BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: UK: Wales  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
Politics
Education
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Wednesday, 11 December, 2002, 14:19 GMT
'Zips' stop spread of cancer
Doctor shows woman pills
New treatments could be developed
Scientists in Wales say they have made a discovery which could help halt the rapid spread of breast cancer.

They found cancer can be stopped from spreading around the breast tumour and to other parts of the body by "zipping" cells tightly together.

Researchers from University of Wales College of Medicine (UWCM) revealed their findings to the world's largest conference on the topic in Texas, US on Wednesday.

Understanding how cancer spreads from the breast could yield treatments which contain the cancer itself in its early stages, they said.

Women currently face a one-in-nine risk of contracting breast cancer - the most common female cancer in the UK from which 38,000 women suffer each year.

Cancer spreads to other parts of the body when a cell breaks away from the primary tumour and burrows into a surrounding blood vessel to enter the blood stream.

Cell "zips"
Zips bind cells together
Stronger junctions reduce chance of spread
Focus now on strengthening
But study author Dr Wen Jiang's team in Cardiff studied molecules called "tight junctions", which act like zips sealing the gaps between the bodies' cells.

It analysed breast tumours taken from 114 women and measured the levels of tight junctions in the tissue.

They found that patients with fewer of these zips were more prone to the spread of breast cancer.

The discovery is one of a series of ongoing research projects which could result in incremental cancer breakthroughs.

Symptoms
Lump in breast or armpit
Change in breast's size/shape
Changes in skin texture
Nipple discharge or change in direction
Unusual pain
Cardiff researchers believe designing therapies to boost the levels of tight junctions could stop breast cancer cells from invading other parts of the body by closing-up their "escape routes".

Professor Robert Mansel of UWCM said: "There are currently very effective methods to treat cancer confined to the breast.

"But treatment becomes more difficult when abnormal cells spread to other parts of the body.

"Doctors could use this information to predict the likelihood of the disease spreading at diagnosis and strategically plan treatments.

"We will now aim to look at ways of increasing the levels of tight junctions to see if this will help control the disease."

See also:

18 Feb 98 | Science/Nature
03 Jul 02 | Health
11 Jul 02 | Health
17 Mar 00 | C-D
Links to more Wales stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Wales stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes