New advances in breast cancer research and treatment

Tigerlily is excited to share new advances in breast cancer research and treatment that can benefit our patient community. We hope these updates will help keep you on top of the latest developments, inform your conversations with your doctor, and empower you in your healthcare decisions.

**NOTE: These posts are intended for informational purposes only. ALWAYS discuss with your physician before making any treatment decisions.

In this post, we discuss a new study1 that suggests a potential option for preventing further metastasis of breast cancer that has spread to the bone.

The study, published in Breast Cancer Research on Nov. 20, focused on circulating tumor cells, or CTCs. Circulating tumor cells are cancerous cells that detach from tumors and move into the blood. (In some cases, they can lead to the development of metastasized tumors in new locations in the body.2) Fewer than 50% of breast cancer patients display circulating tumor cells, but for those who do, CTCs are generally considered dangerous, and scientists have been at a loss as to how to predict whether or when a patient may produce them.

Based on this particular study, however, it appears that there is one particular factor which may help prevent CTCs from the bone. When the researchers looked at patients whose cancer had already metastasized to the bone, they found that those who had received the drug denosumab were less likely to have circulating tumor cells (CTCs) in their blood. This finding suggests that denosumab may help prevent the cancer from further metastasizing beyond the bone.

In patients with breast cancer, denosumab is normally used to counteract bone loss from cancer therapy, or to protect against bone damage when the cancer has moved into the bone.The scientists behind the recent study hypothesized that, since denosumab helps prevent the bone from breaking down, it also prevents the opportunity for cancer cells located in the bone to break off and move into the blood. Another theory is that the denosumab may have an effect on the tumor cells themselves. Importantly, the researchers noted that the same anti-CTC benefit is not seen with the drug bisphosphonate.

Although further research is needed to determine the effectiveness of denosumab in this new capacity, it may prove to be a useful preventative option in keeping metastasized breast cancer from spreading beyond the bones.




[1] Nicola Aceto, Catharina Balmelli, Francesc Castro-Giner, Cinzia Donato, Sofia Gkountela, Viola Heinzelmann-Schwarz, Ilona Krol, Christian Kurzeder, Julia Landin, Alexandra Malinovska, Christoph Rochlitz, Ramona Scherrer, Barbara Maria Szczerba, Marcus Vetter, Walter Paul Weber, and Alfred Zippelius. “Denosumab Treatment is Associated with the Absence of Circulating Tumor Cells in Patients with Breast Cancer”, Breast Cancer Research 20:141 (November 2018),

[2] Seungpyo Hong, Daniel P. Lindsay, Dominic H. Moon, and Andrew Z. Wang, “Clinical Indications for, and the Future of, Circulating Tumor Cells”, Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews 125 (February 2018), 143-144,

[3] “Denosumab (Subcutaneous Route)”, Mayo Clinic, accessed November 24, 2018,


In this post, we share an articleon an up-and-coming option for breast reconstruction surgery that could significantly reduce negative aftereffects for patients.

Traditionally, breast reconstruction surgery has been performed by cutting into the chest’s pectoralis muscle and inserting implants into a space made beneath it. Because the muscle is being damaged and overextended, patients often experience pain after having this type of breast reconstruction surgery, and do not have the same amount of strength in the muscle that they had had before. Additionally, with this method, the implants may become displaced whenever the muscle moves, since they are located right below it.

Now, however, an alternative technique is offering patients an improved experience. Prepectoral reconstruction is a different method of breast reconstruction surgery, wherein the implants are inserted right beneath the skin instead of beneath the muscle. A material known as a biologic mesh is also placed around the implant, below the skin, to prevent infection or scar tissue. In a prepectoral reconstruction, the pectoralis muscle never has to be cut, so patients can avoid the resulting pain and unwanted implant movement that go along with the traditional method.

While the new prepectoral reconstruction method is not offered everywhere, it offers patients the possibility of a much more comfortable outcome than traditional breast reconstruction surgery, and may be a worthwhile option for some women to explore.


[1] Kathleen Masterson, “New Method of Breast Reconstruction May Reduce Pain for Some Cancer Survivors”, UCSF News Center, November 20, 2018,