Tumor cells can eat cancer-fighting stem cells, triggering breast cancer to reappear

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A cluster of breast cancer cells (Credit: Annie Cavanagh. Wellcome Images [email protected] via Flickr)

What many [breast cancer] survivors worry about…is that their breast cancer may come back. It has puzzled scientists and health care providers that cancer can suddenly reappear, often with a vengeance, months or years after treatment is over.

Now, researchers at the Texas A&M College of Medicine have found that these dormant tumor cells might have become latent because they cannibalized — basically ate — the body’s own stem cells.

Bartosh and the team realized that if breast cancer cells in the body behave the same way, it might explain cancer recurrence.

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The cancer cells that have cannibalized MSCs are highly resistant to chemotherapy and nutrient deprivation that fairly effectively kills other cancerous cells. Because there are only a few of them, the surviving cells are not detected with existing scanning methods.

The hope is that now a possible mechanism for recurrence has been explained, a treatment could be found that would keep those cannibalistic cells dormant, and doing no harm, for the rest of the person’s life.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: A Possible Explanation for Recurring Breast Cancer

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