Almost all cancer-related deaths, 90% in fact, are due to cancer metastasizing.
Metastatic cancer is the term used when the cancer has spread out of its original location and now involves other areas of the body.
Once cancer has begun to spread through the body and infect other organs and systems, it becomes much more difficult to treat and outcomes are not as positive.
But now, researchers believe they have figured out how cancer is able to spread throughout the body to new areas.
Before they can move into a new area of the body, cancer cells have to do some preparation first. If they do not do this preparation, then the new area will be too hostile for them to grow in.
Cancers prepare their new target area by sending out an enzyme called lysyl oxidase, or LOX.
Now that researchers have discovered this enzyme and its role in cancer metastasis, the next step will be to see if they can find a way to block this enzyme or to turn it off.
The original research was done in mice with breast cancer, but the researchers believe their findings will apply to other types of cancer in humans as well.
Typically cancer that has metastasized is termed as Stage IV.