Researchers at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville say a drug used to treat blood cancers may also stop the spread of invasive breast cancer.
About one in eight U.S. women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.
Andrea Zephal, a mother of two, was 35 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had a double mastectomy and 16 rounds of chemo.
"Life is good. I mean, I'm cancer free, so that's all good," Zephal said. "I feel like I'm definitely a survivor and I've beat it."
Zephal was a patient at Mayo Clinic when she was fighting cancer.
"The doctors are so caring," she said. "They really spend a lot of time with you. Everything is there."
In a new study, Mayo Clinic found that in animals, the drug decitabine activates a protein that halts the ability of cancer cells to separate from a tumor and spread to other organs.
Treatment with low doses of the drug in an animal with breast cancer reduced tumor size and blocked it from spreading to the lung.
The research team found the protein was inactive in most types of invasive breast cancer.
"The gene coding for PRKD1 was increasingly silenced as breast cancer becomes more and more aggressive and invasive," said Sahra Borges, Ph.D., Mayo Clinic.
The hope is that this test can be further developed and used to predict which patients are at risk for breast cancer.
For cancer survivors like Zephal, it's good to hear researchers are making gains in the fight to beat the disease.
"I love the new research. It's close to my heart, you know," she said. "Hopefully that prevents a lot of young women to not go through what I've gone through."
Doctors hope this study offers a new avenue to prevent breast cancer, or at least make it more treatable.