Posted on January 20, 2020
Metastasis is the spread of cancer to other regions of the body, and is responsible for 90% of cancer deaths.
The Spanish oncologist Joan Massegué and other scientists at the Sloan Kettering Institute in New York have finally discovered the reason why the cancer cells extend to other parts of the body. It is not because of genetic mutations, as it was believed until now. Instead, they spread following the same process of regenerating a wounded tissue. Yes, by following their healing abilities! That is to say, the regeneration of the wrong tissue -the tumour- in the wrong place.
To spread, cancer cells must successfully separate from their neighbours, pass through the layers of tissue that separate them from the circulation, swim or crawl to a new location in the body through blood or lymph fluid, leave these vessels, then take root and start growing in the new location. And once cancer cells learn to survive in a strange environment, it is very difficult to get rid of them.
The fact that it has been found in which way the metastasis develops provides a novel framework to think about how to treat it. If it can be reached before the disease can spread to any place in the body, this would enable a more effective treatment to fight cancer. The results of the research provide a different path of knowledge and that is very hopeful because it means that research in oncology continues to progress...