Researchers have claimed that one of cancer’s treatment options – chemotherapy – could actually be one of the causes of cancer spread within the body.
Scientists at New York’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine say they have found a possible link between chemotherapy and metastatic cancer. Researchers say that while chemotherapy is a treatment option, it is a short-term solution because while it may reduce the size of tumors, chemotherapy opens up doors for spread of tumor into the blood system enabling the cancer the spread and come back even stronger.
When the cancer has spread across the body or to a new organ, it becomes impossible to treat as it often gets into Stage 4. According to lead author Dr George Karagiannis, the findings, however, should not deter patients from seeking treatment but there could be a better way to monitor tumor movements in patients undergoing the treatment.
The treatment is often regarded as the first option for breast cancer patients to shrink tumors and even blitz the disease altogether. Chemotherapy can be administered as a pill or through an intra-venous drip. The drugs travel throughout the body in the bloodstream.
It is tipped as an effective way to reach cancer cells that may have spread away from the tumor, as is common with breast cancer. Senior author Peter Nelson, a human biology professor, said that in theory chemotherapy is perfect for killing cancer cells – mix a toxic dose of the drug with a tumor in a lab dish, and the tumor will not be able to survive or spread.
“This explains why some patients, after undergoing chemotherapy and declared cancer free, the disease resurfaces and becomes more lethal ,” they said.
However, he said, the dose required to kill tumors is lethal for patients. As such, doctors have to administer a lower dose, and it seems that has two key downsides. First, it facilitates dangerous spreading. Second, it allows some tumor cells to survive, become resistant to chemotherapy, and spread to other organs.