Certain methods of killing cancerous tumours can end up creating resistant cells, but researchers have now discovered a protein which help prevent tumours from coming back.
Researchers from University of Central Florida found KLF8, a protein present in several types of cancer, including those of the breast and ovaries, that could prevent tumours from returning.
KLF8 appears to protect tumour cells from drugs aimed at killing them and even aid the tumour cells' ability to regenerate, the Journal of Biological Chemistry reports.
"All cells have a DNA-repair mechanism," explained Jihe Zhao, doctor and professor researching the role of proteins, among others, said a university statement.
"That's why we survive constant DNA damage threats. But KLF8 is over expressed in specific cancers, such as breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
"The thought is that if we can stop it from switching on, we may be able to stop the tumours from coming back as part of therapy. We still need to do a lot more research, but it is plausible," said Zhao.
There are between 2.5 million and 2.7 million women who have breast cancer in the US alone and 10 to 20 percent will experience a recurrence, according to the American Cancer Society.
Current treatment options, depending on the stage of cancer, include surgical removal followed by chemotherapy using a combination of cancer killing drugs.
Each year about 22,200 women are also diagnosed with ovarian cancer.