While obesity has long been known to pose an increased risk for breast cancer and to lead to a worse prognosis for women suffering the disease, very few published studies have investigated the role of fatty tissue surrounding tumours.
Hannah Palmer spent her summer studying how fatty tissue can make breast tumour cells more invasive, leading to increased metastasis (the spread of cancer beyond the breast) and, ultimately, more cancer deaths. Through her research, Hannah proved that proteins secreted by fatty tissue are contributing factors to the incrased invasive potential of a tumour.
“Hannah worked incredibly hard over her time here and we are in the process of incorporating the findings from this project into a paper for publication,” said her supervisor Dr Elisabeth Phillips. “There’s been considerable interest regarding the work – it’s a worthwhile and exciting pilot study and we would like to investigate our findings further to examine what the adipocytes (fatty tissue cells) located near tumours are doing to promote breast cancer cells to become more invasive and metastatic.”