The Way Cancer Cells Spread Is Even Scarier Than We Thought

Cancer cells have a terrifying-yet-ingenious way of passing through even the smallest blood vessels to spread throughout the human body, according to a new study by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital. Figuring out how to prevent them from doing so may help slow down the spread of this killer disease.

Source: The Way Cancer Cells Spread Is Even Scarier Than We Thought

It’s interesting but very, very preliminary.

They are circulating tumor cells xenografted into a fish embryo. We don’t really know much about ciruculating tumor cells (CTC’s) except that some early studies have shown that if they can be found, the risk of recurrence is higher. We haven’t yet found a way to impact those findings so the recommendation is to not even look for them. Finding them does not change therapy, and finding them does not guarantee relapse although the companies that make the assay try to sell it on “don’t you want to know?” In fact, no. I do not want to know a number that may scare people, may not lead to bad outcomes even though it sounds like it does, and has no bearing on actual treatment decisions.

That said, this begs the question of why these cells are capable of the behavior… How do they attain this ability?

Antioxidants May Lead to Cancer Spread, Study Says

Since the term “antioxidants” made the leap from the realm of biochemistry labs and into the public consciousness in the  1990s, Americans have come to believe that more is better when it comes to consuming the substance that comes in things like acai berries, green tea and leafy veggies.

A provocative new study published Wednesday in the journal Nature raises important questions about that assumption.

Source: The latest study about antioxidants is terrifying. Scientists think they may boost cancer cells to spread faster.

This article leaves off a couple of important points on the research

  1. Anti-oxidants increase the rate at which metastases form, and do not appreciably affect the growth of the primary tumor.
  2. The study focused on melanoma xenografts only, some of which are highly metastatic. This will probably apply to other kinds of cancer as well, but that needs to be more fully investigated.
  3. N-acetylcysteine isn’t just an antioxidant.

Here’s the journal article itself (behind a paywall).