Latest Issue of Science News


News

Unintended consequences of cancer therapies

Radiation and chemotherapy can destroy a tumor, but they may also indirectly promote metastasis, the spread of cancerous cells to other organs.

Scientists knew that these traditional cancer therapies increase blood concentrations of a protein called transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta), which performs many functions in a healthy individual. Now, researchers have shown that in mice with a form of breast cancer, TGF-beta promotes survival of stray tumor cells in the bloodstream, which in turn increases the number of new tumors in the lungs 17-fold.

"Nobody before has clearly pointed out the connection between TGF-beta and the increased metastases," says Swati Biswas of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville.

Note: To comment, Science News subscribing members must now establish a separate login relationship with Disqus. Click the Disqus icon below, enter your e-mail and click “forgot password” to reset your password. You may also log into Disqus using Facebook, Twitter or Google.

X
This article is available only to subscribing members. Join SSP today or Log in.