New research conducted in the US has shown how cancer cells break free from tumours.
According to a study conducted at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the exact mechanism that allows cancer cells to spread from one part of the body to another has not been well understood.
The new findings, which were published this month in Nature Communications, offer potential new cancer drug targets, stated Sangeeta Bhatia, the John and Dorothy Wilson Professor of Health Sciences and Technology and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT.
"As cancer cells become more metastatic, there can be a loss of adhesion to normal tissue structures," said the study leader, who is also a member of the David H Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT.
He explained that as the cancer cells become more aggressive, they go on to gain the ability to stick to - and then grow on - the molecules that are not normally found in healthy tissues but are found in sites of tumour metastases.
Cancer Research UK figures suggest around 320,500 people were diagnosed with cancer in the UK in 2009, which is the latest year data is available for.
Read about support and personalised care at Barchester care homes for anyone with cancer concerns.