A mathematical model of breast cancer development, local treatment and recurrence

Heiko Enderling, Mark A. J. Chaplain, Alexander R. A. Anderson, Jayant S. Vaidya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

159 Citations (Scopus)


Cancer development is a stepwise process through which normal somatic cells acquire mutations which enable them to escape their normal function in the tissue and become self-sufficient in survival. The number of mutations depends on the patient's age, genetic susceptibility and on the exposure of the patient to carcinogens throughout their life. It is believed that in every malignancy 4?6 crucial similar mutations have to occur on cancer-related genes. These genes are classified as oncogenes and tumour suppressor genes (TSGs) which gain or lose their function respectively, after they have received one mutative hit or both of their alleles have been knocked out. With the acquisition of each of the necessary mutations the transformed cell gains a selective advantage over normal cells, and the mutation will spread throughout the tissue via clonal expansion. We present a simplified model of this mutation and expansion process, in which we assume that the loss of two TSGs is sufficient to give rise to a cancer. Our mathematical model of the stepwise development of breast cancer verifies the idea that the normal mutation rate in genes is only sufficient to give rise to a tumour within a clinically observable time if a high number of breast stem cells and TSGs exist or genetic instability is involved as a driving force of the mutation pathway. Furthermore, our model shows that if a mutation occurred in stem cells pre-puberty, and formed a field of cells with this mutation through clonal formation of the breast, it is most likely that a tumour will arise from within this area. We then apply different treatment strategies, namely surgery and adjuvant external beam radiotherapy and targeted intraoperative radiotherapy (TARGIT) and use the model to identify different sources of local recurrence and analyse their prevention.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)245-259
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Theoretical Biology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • Mathematical models
  • Cancer development
  • Mutation
  • Loss of heterozygosity
  • Tumour suppressor gene
  • Targit
  • Recurrence
  • Targeted intraoperative radiotherapy (Targit)


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