Understanding the evolution of late breast cancer relapse as a route to improving clinical outcome


  • Dr Lucy Yates

    Wellcome Sanger Institute

Project summary

Breast cancers frequently relapse many years after they have apparently been cured. Late relapse is difficult to predict and it is usually incurable. Relapses arise from persistent disseminated tumour cells (DTCs), which can often be found in the bone marrow during disease-free follow-up and are thought to exist in a dormant state. Preventing relapses is an important clinical challenge.

I aim to understand how late relapses arise and determine if the genetic features of DTCs can be used to predict cancer recurrence. I hope to identify vulnerabilities of the DTCs that can be used as a therapeutic target. Genomic techniques will be applied to a collection of samples from primary breast cancers, late relapses and bone marrow. Computational analyses will reveal the evolutionary events that underlie the behaviour of this disease.

This study will provide insights into cancer dormancy and provide a basis for new approaches to predict and manage late breast cancer relapses.