Chemotherapy causes breast cancer relapses in some women | The USA Print

Chemotherapy causes breast cancer relapses in some women

The chemotherapy It is an effective treatment against cancer and, specifically, prevents many relapses in women operated on for breast cancer. However, despite its effectiveness, Between 10% and 15% of women with breast tumors continue to relapse. One of the reasons, according to an experimental study published this Tuesday in the ‘PLOS Biology’ magazine, is that, in some cases, the very standard chemotherapy It damages non-cancerous cells and causes relapses.

“This does not mean, in any case, that without chemotherapy women would not have had breast cancer again,” says oncologist Joan Albanell.

“This research studies one of the mechanisms by which this relapse occurs. Specifically, it describes how chemotherapy damages non-cancerous cells, and these, in turn, ‘awaken’ tumor cells that remain dormant after the operation. This cancer cell reactivation mechanism could be one of the causes of resistance to chemotherapy and can lead to relapses,” he points out. Joan Albanell, Head of Medical Oncology at Hospital del Mar (Barcelona). “This does not mean that chemotherapy is the cause of women getting breast cancer again,” she says.

“However, understand this mechanism of resistance to chemo, if validated in studies in patients, It will help us, in the future, to design studies that counteract these mechanisms and increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy”, adds this oncologist, who values ​​the finding of this study.

Chemo, this oncologist insists, is what prevents many women from suffering breast cancer relapses. But it doesn’t work on all of them. The research published in ‘PLOS Biology’ is experimental, that is, it has been carried out only in laboratory models and not in patients, but it opens a door to continue investigating.

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Objective: attack proliferating cells

He aim of chemotherapy is to eradicate cancer cells and, above all, destroy those that “they are dividing”, which “proliferate.” However, after a surgical interventionthere may be ‘sleeping’ cells, latent, which are those that could lead to a relapse.

Between 10% and 15% of women with breast cancer relapse because chemotherapy is not effective

What chemotherapy would do in some cases, according to this study, is “trigger the production of proteins by non-tumor cells which, in turn, awaken dormant tumor cells.” “This should be tested in patients -Albanell clarifies-. But what [el estudio] describes is that, If we are able to counteract these proteins, “chemotherapy could stop having this ability to awaken tumor cells.” That is, the research draws a line in which keep investigating to design even more effective chemotherapy treatments.

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He risk of breast cancer relapse, It is usually reduced in relative terms by 50% or 60% in patients receiving chemo. However, there are women with breast cancer (between 10% and 15%) for whom chemotherapy is not effective and relapses again. This study of the Sea adds to the growing evidence that chemotherapy can harm, in some cases, non-tumor cells that are part of cancers and specifically demonstrates that can reactivate growth of latent tumor cells.

Importantly, it describes mechanisms causing this tumor re-emergence in breast cancer that may be pharmacologically counteracted at an experimental level. His clinical translation (i.e., its impact on patients) is still a “question mark”.

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