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Friday, 22 June 2018

Chemotherapy can actually trigger the spread of cancer in adjacent areas, science confirms

Cancer News


Cancer patients have to face a lot of tough decisions, and one of the biggest ones is whether or not to get chemotherapy if it’s offered for their particular diagnosis. A lot of people struggle with this decision because they’re concerned about the side effects, which are admittedly pretty severe, but there’s one very big reason that some people decide against it: Studies have shown that it can actually trigger the spread of cancer into nearby areas of the body.

One study carried out by researchers from The Ohio State University showed how chemotherapy triggers the cellular responses that spur the spread. Previous studies showed that chemotherapy leads to cellular changes in breast cancer patients, so they decided to explore the effects that the very common frontline chemotherapy drug paclitaxel has on breast cancer patients. The researchers chose the lungs because they are the closest organ to the breasts.

They discovered that breast cancer patients who were given paclitaxel chemotherapy had overexpressed Atf3 genes, a transcription factor activated by stress. Those who did not get chemo didn’t have an overexpression in this gene. The gene causes damage in two ways. First, it distributes cancer cells throughout the lungs, and then it primes the area to boost the cells’ chances of surviving and thriving.

In other words, the chemotherapy had a carcinogenic effect on the body by activating this gene. The researchers were surprised just how much this drug seemed to make patients’ bodies conducive to cancer.

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