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Cell Adh Migr. 2012 May-Jun;6(3):249-60. doi: 10.4161/cam.20567. Epub 2012 May 1.

Why the stroma matters in breast cancer: insights into breast cancer patient outcomes through the examination of stromal biomarkers.

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Department of Cell and Regenerative Biology, the Laboratory for Cell and Molecular Biology, Laboratory for Optical and Computational Instrumentation (LOCI), UW Carbone Cancer Center, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, USA.


Survival and recurrence rates in breast cancer are variable for common diagnoses, and therefore the biological underpinnings of the disease that determine those outcomes are yet to be fully understood. As a result, translational medicine is one of the fastest growing arenas of study in tumor biology. With advancements in genetic and imaging techniques, archived biopsies can be examined for purposes other than diagnosis. There is a great deal of evidence that points to the stroma as the major regulator of tumor progression following the initial stages of tumor formation, and the stroma may also contribute to risk factors determining tumor formation. Therefore, aspects of stromal biology are well-suited to be a focus for studies of patient outcome, where statistical differences in survival among patients provide evidence as to whether that stromal component is a signpost for tumor progression. In this review we summarize the latest research done where breast cancer patient survival was correlated with aspects of stromal biology, which have been put into four categories: reorganization of the extracellular matrix (ECM) to promote invasion, changes in the expression of stromal cell types, changes in stromal gene expression, and changes in cell biology signaling cascades to and from the stroma.

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