Defeating Metastasis
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cancer war

In science and medicine, we get excited when a new idea changes the way we've thought and that's happening with cancer. We're talking about the concept of sleeping cancer cells. And what's astounding is that the healthy cells around them are keeping them asleep so they do not do harm.

First, it's important to know that scientists have for some years now reconsidered the convention that cancer spreads or metastasizes as a natural progression. As the tumor grew into an advanced stage, some cancer cells would travel to distant sites, colonize tissues there and form new masses.

Recent studies show instead that the metastatic process starts when a tumor first forms. Some cells migrate even before the original mass can be diagnosed. These colonizing cells can stay "dormant" for extended periods because neighboring healthy cells are apparently sending molecular signals to keep them inactive. At some point, stressed healthy cells stop sending these signals which then trigger the dormant cancer cells to awaken and grow into a new tumor.

The other explanation is that cancer cells accumulate mutations so that when they do metastasize, they can ignore the "dormant" signals from surrounding cells. So, they begin replicating once they travel to new tissues.

Now scientists are exploring how to control these "dormant" signals and create a long-term treatment for cancer. The idea is to manage it as a chronic disease like HIV so that people can live out a normal lifetime with their cancers.

For more information…

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