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Breast cancer link found

4th December 2006

Breast cancer sufferers have a higher number of certain immune cells in their breast tissue which stop the body’s immune system fighting the disease, say researchers.

Scientists at Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital claim to have discovered a new way of identifying certain patients at risk of the disease. Their research focussed on immune cells called regulatory T cells, which normally work to stop the immune system attacking the body's own tissue. However, they found that in breast cancer patients the regulatory T cells are found in higher numbers and prevent the immune system from recognising and attacking cancerous cells.

The researchers said that such high-risk patients are unlikely to respond well to current treatments but hoped that their findings would assist with monitoring and relapse-prevention.
The research has been described as “groundbreaking? by the charity Breast Cancer Campaign.

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