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The Boston Globe

Science

Science in Mind

Study offers clue about how cancers become aggressive

As tools for detecting cancer early have improved, medical understanding simply has not kept up. Finding tumors early is of limited help when doctors still struggle to tell which cancers are highly aggressive and likely to spread and which are slow-growing and benign, leading to a long-running debate over the benefits and possible harm of screening.

A new study may offer a valuable clue about how cancers become aggressive, identifying a genetic switch that in some breast cancer cells is poised to be flipped by signals from the surrounding tumor environment.

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