, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 71-82

Microenvironment of the Involuting Mammary Gland Mediates Mammary Cancer Progression

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Abstract

Breast cancer diagnosed after a completed pregnancy has higher metastatic potential and therefore a much poorer prognosis. We hypothesize that following pregnancy the process of mammary gland involution, which returns the gland to its pre-pregnant state, co-opts some of the programs of wound healing. The pro-inflammatory milieu that results, while physiologically normal, promotes tumor progression. In this review, the similarities between mammary gland involution after cessation of milk-production and pathological tissue remodeling are discussed in light of emerging data demonstrating a role for pathological tissue remodeling in cancer.