Standard chemotherapy drugs damage surrounding non-cancerous cells, which can then awaken dormant or dormant cancer cells and promote cancer growth.
This is one of the conclusions of a study that has just been published in the journal Plos Biology, led by Ramya Ganesan from Emory University, in the USA. The finding is important to understand the cancer recurrence and can open the door to new approaches and ways of approaching.
Advances in cancer treatment, including new generations of chemotherapy, have significantly reduced mortality from many types of cancer, including breast cancer. However, up to 23% of breast cancer patients experience a relapse within the first five years. Treatment aims to destroy all cancer cells, but often some cells enter a latency state, in which they stop dividing and stop responding to chemotherapeutic agents. Recurrence occurs when dormant cells reawaken and begin dividing again.
Some studies have indicated that chemotherapy itself may promote escape from torpor, but the mechanism of this effect has been unclear. To explore that question, the authors of this study worked with a cell model and a mouse model of breast cancer.
Importantly, the cell model contained both cancer cells and noncancerous stromal cells, connective tissue cells found in the breast and other tissues.