LONDON, ONT. -- It’s called triple-negative breast cancer, a form of cancer that makes up to 20 per cent of all breast cancer cases, and also often ends up in the patients' lungs.

"This is one of most aggressive types of breast cancer and also one of the types of breast cancer where there really aren’t many if any targeting treatments," says Dr. Alison Allan, scientist at Lawson Health Research Institute. 

In fact, when looking at triple-negative breast cancer cases, approximately 60-70 per cent of those patients will die from lung metastasis. 

Allan explains, "Metastasis is the spread of breast cancer cells or any cancer cells from the origin. In breast cancer it’s from the breast, and when the cells get aggressive they can escape into the blood stream." 

The team also found that these triple-negative cancer cells may be sending signals to the lungs to help attract the cancer cells into the blood stream

"Once the cells escape into the blood stream they are hard to find and track and know where they are going," says Allan.

That’s what she and her research team are looking to find out - what is it about the lungs that make them a common resting place for these cancer cells?

"The fact that it’s moved to the lungs and adapted its characteristics to survive in the lungs means it tends to be more resident to treatment." 

Researchers hope these initial findings will lead to further studies and the development of targeted treatments, to stop these cells from taking a deadly turn to the lungs. 

The ultimate goal is to save the lives of these patients who usually have a less than positive prognosis.