Stem cells and breast cancer heterogeneity

Understanding the origins of breast cancers, and the biological basis of the differences between them, could open up new avenues in both treatment and prevention.

Furthermore, it will enable currently available treatments to be better targeted to those patients that will benefit the most while avoiding unnecessary treatment of tumours that will not respond.

Dr Smalley is also studying the basis for the different behaviour of cells within an individual tumour in response to therapy, including whether cancer stem cells can be continually formed over the life of a tumour. Blocking cancer stem cell formation will greatly reduce the likelihood of relapse and regrowth following therapy.