Why Does Breast Cancer Come Back?

Breast cancer recurrence remains a critical concern, with one type responsible for 80% of UK deaths from the disease. A leading charity figure urges scientists to re-examine the mystery of cancer dormancy.

A Call for Deeper Understanding

Baroness Morgan of Drefelin, outgoing chief executive of Breast Cancer Now, stresses the need for extensive research on the recurrence of breast cancer in patients deemed cured. She highlights a prevailing “complacency” due to early detection successes and effective primary cancer treatments.

The Enigma of Dormancy

Unlike other cancers, breast cancer can reappear after a decade or more of dormancy, a phenomenon less common in other types. This prolonged dormancy period raises significant concerns among patients concluding their primary treatment, as uncertainty about recurrence remains high.

The Next Frontier in Research

Baroness Morgan emphasises the urgent need for impactful research to understand why and how dormancy occurs. Current knowledge gaps mean patients often feel misunderstood and neglected by clinicians. Education for healthcare providers is crucial to improve patient support and understanding.

ER-Positive Breast Cancer: A Persistent Threat

ER-positive breast cancer, associated with oestrogen, accounts for 80% of cases and remains a significant threat. For around 25% of women, dormant cancer cells can reactivate years later, leading to incurable secondary cancer that spreads throughout the body, causing most of the 11,500 annual breast cancer deaths in the UK.

Urgent Research Questions

Key research questions include: How can we detect dormant cancer cells? Why do these cells wake up? Can we induce dormancy again or prevent further spread? Answering these questions could provide personalised risk assessments post-treatment, offering peace of mind to those unlikely to develop secondary cancer.

Support for Research Initiatives

Robert Swannell, former chairman of Marks and Spencer, whose wife Patricia succumbed to secondary breast cancer, has launched an appeal to fund further research. Swannell highlights the lack of knowledge about dormancy and late recurrence as central to advancing treatment and ultimately finding a cure for secondary breast cancer.

Conclusion recurring breast cancer

Understanding and addressing breast cancer dormancy and recurrence is vital. With enhanced research and education, we can offer better support to patients and potentially find ways to prevent secondary breast cancer, giving hope and clarity to many facing this unpredictable journey.

But sometime medical professionals may get wrongly diagnose breast cancer, there could be a delay in breast cancer diagnosis that could lead to more invasive treatment and worse outcomes.  Should this be applicable to you please contact us for free legal support and advice under our NO WIN NO FEE service.

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