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How cuts can spur tumor growth

Cancerous cells flock to wounds, a study finds

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3:25pm, February 14, 2011

The slightest scratch can cause cancerous cells to crawl to the wound and form tumors in mice, a new study finds. The work may explain why certain kinds of cancers seem to cluster around burns, surgical scars and other injuries.

“This work says that if you have a predisposition to getting cancer, wounding might enhance the chance that it will develop,” says cell biologist Anthony Oro of Stanford University School of Medicine.

A variety of human cancers have been tied to wounds, including lung, liver, bone and skin cancers, but just how and why has been unclear. In the new study, Sunny Wong and Jeremy Reiter of the University of California, San Francisco, introduced a potentially cancer-causing mutation into particular stem cells in mice.

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