Researchers take a new approach to beating breast cancer

Queensland researchers are working on a new approach to beat breast cancer, targeting the microenvironment around tumours to stop them from evading existing therapies.

A team at UQ’s Diamantina Institute, led by Dr Roberta Mazzieri, has been funded by Cancer Council Queensland to investigate the treatment.

Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift said the organisation was proud to be funding the potentially life-saving research.

“This research provides great promise that we can improve outcomes for women diagnosed with breast cancer,” Ms Clift said.

“Breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in Queensland women – around 2900 new cases are diagnosed each year, and about 500 women die from the disease.

“Clinical research like this is key to developing better treatments for women diagnosed, to improve survival outcomes and quality of life.

“We look forward to seeing the results of Dr Mazzieri’s work and commend UQ’s Diamantina Institute on the quality of their work and world-class caliber of their researchers.”

Dr Mazzieri said despite historical progress in the treatment of individual forms of cancer, many were still resistant to treatment.

“Current cancer treatments focus on treating the tumour itself. As a tumour grows and evolves it develops genetic mutations to evade treatments,” Dr Mazzieri said.

“Rather than developing new treatments targeting the tumour, our research is focused on targeting the microenvironment around the tumour.

“We are looking at the microenvironment around the tumour because it doesn’t accumulate mutations as quickly as tumour cells, making it a more stable treatment target.

“We have identified specific interactions between tumours and a sub-population of blood cells called TEMs (Tie2-expressing monocytes). Through these interactions these monocytes help the tumour grow and disseminate.

“The goal of this research is to improve treatment outcomes for cancer patients by eliminating opportunities for the cancer to spread and reoccur later,” she said.

Cancer Council Queensland recommends women aged 50-74 have a mammogram every two years through BreastScreen Queensland.

“Queensland women should be breast aware by getting to know the normal look and feel of their breasts,” Ms Clift said.

“Women who notice any changes should see a doctor immediately.”

More information about Cancer Council Queensland is available via 13 11 20 or

For more information or interviews, please contact:

Katie Clift, Executive Manager, Media and Spokesperson, Cancer Council Queensland

Ph: (07) 3634 5372 or 0409 001 171