British scientists have made a breakthrough that could stop breast cancer in its tracks.

A team from the Institute of Cancer Research has unlocked the secret of how the disease moves around the body, allowing its deadly spread to vital organs.

It’s long been known that the cancer gets into the blood stream to travel to other parts of the body, but until now it was not known how it got into the blood.

This latest research has identified a ‘chemical key’ that ‘unlocks’ the blood vessels allowing the cancer to enter.

The findings pave the way for the development of new treatments to contain the disease and potentially save thousands of lives.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, with one in eight in the UK developing the disease.

While contained in the breast tissue the cancer rarely does any damage, but once it spreads it becomes deadly.

The ‘key’ to the blood vessels is a molecule called endosialin. It is produced on cells known as pericytes, which wrap around blood vessels.

The study found that breast cancer was more likely to spread in women producing more endosialin.

Co-leader of the study Professor Clare Isacke said: “We believe that endosialin could be a useful marker of how likely a woman’s breast cancer is to spread around the body. And it might even be possible to block cancer spread by targeting this molecule with new drugs – something we plan to explore in future studies.”

Our GP, Dr Najma Hussain has welcomed the news, describing it as ‘a very promising development’. But she says the best defence is still early diagnosis and she urges all women to attend regular mammograms.

Any women wishing to book an appointment for a mammogram can do so by calling us on 966 860 258.