A new study has suggested that chemotherapy could allow cancer to spread, and trigger more aggressive tumours.
Chemotherapy is often the treatment regarded as the first option for breast cancer patients to shrink tumors and even blitz the disease altogether. Scientists at New York’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine have found evidence that this is only a short-term solution.
Their research suggests that, while shrinking the tumors, chemotherapy simultaneously opens a gateway for tumors to spread into the blood system, making it easier to grow back stronger.
Cancer becomes incredibly difficult to treat – often fatal – once it spreads to other organs; it is then classified as Stage 4.
Dr George Karagiannis, of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, New York, found the number of doorways was increased in 20 patients receiving two common chemotherapy drugs.He also discovered that in mice, breast cancer chemotherapy increased the number of cancer cells circulating the body and in the lungs. Dr Karagiannis said women could be monitored during chemotherapy to check if cancer was starting to circulate and doorways were emerging. “One approach would be to obtain a small amount of tumour tissue after a few doses of preoperative chemotherapy,” he said.
“If we observe that the markers scores are increased we would recommend discontinuing chemo and having surgery first, followed by post-operative chemo. We are currently planning more extensive trials to address the issue. In this study we only investigated chemotherapy-induced cancer cell dissemination in breast cancer. We are currently working on other types of cancer to see if similar effects are elicited.”Photo Credit: Getty