UNITED NEWS INTERNATIONAL (UNI) — New research may have uncovered the reason for why breast cancer patients are more likely to see their cancer spread after surgery.

A study published April 11 in the journal Science Translational Medicine suggests the post-surgery healing process is the trigger.

After a breast cancer patient undergoes a lumpectomy or mastectomy, the body’s immune system kicks into overdrive to try and heal the surgical scar.

But this could mean the immune system is too busy to restrain any cancer cells leftover at the original tumor site.

The study suggests these cancer cells are free to migrate and grow into new, even worse, tumors.

While the very surgery meant to save a person may be hindering their chances of remission, the study suggests a possible fix: take an anti-inflammatory drug.

In tests on mice, study authors say strong anti-inflammatories stopped the wound healing from suppressing the immune system.