Despite tremendous progress in the screening and treatment of early breast cancer, which have resulted in a ~30% reduction in annual mortality from breast cancer, metastatic breast cancer remains understudied and a major public health burden. In collaboration with clinical investigators at UPCI and Magee Womens Hospital, and Dr Adrian Lee’s laboratory, we are performing comprehensive studies to identify mechanisms of metastases. In these studies, we are focusing on metastases to bone, and on metastatic sites that are enriched in patients with invasive lobular breast cancer (ILC).
ILC is the second most common histological subtype, and accounts for approximately 10-15% of breast cancer cases, following the more common histological subtype, invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC). Both ILC and IDC can metastasize to common sites, such as bone, brain, liver, and lung. However, in patients with ILC, the tumors frequently metastasize to the gastrointestinal tract (e.g. colon and stomach), peritoneal surface, retroperitoneum, and uro-genital organs (e.g. ovaries). It is currently unknown what causes the unique pattern of metastatic spread in ILC. We are developing models faithfully representing the disease, and we are collecting and characterizing metastatic tissue, in order to build a comprehensive molecular and clinicopathlogical landscape that will aid in understanding the unique ILC spread. Our goal is to identify targets for prevention and therapy of metastatic ILC.