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Darwin’s theory of evolution suggests a new approach for treating cancer

Cancers that have spread, known as metastatic disease, are rarely curable. The reasons that patients die despite effective treatment are many, but they all trace back to an idea popularized in 1859 by Charles Darwin to explain the rise and fall of species of birds and tortoises. Today we call it evolution.

Think of a cancer cell like Darwin’s Galápagos finches… . The key is that when two groups of critters compete in the same small space, the one better adapted to the environment wins out.

In normal tissue, regular noncancer cells thrive because they are a good fit for the biochemical growth signals, nutrients and physical cues they get from surrounding healthy tissue. … But if the surroundings are further damaged by inflammation—sometimes a growing cancer can cause this itself—or old age, the cancer cell does better and starts to outcompete normal cells that used to crowd it out. 

The overall implication is that we can best understand cancer by looking at its surroundings rather than solely focusing on the mutations inside a cell. By reducing tissue alterations caused by processes such as inflammation, we can restore a more normal environment and … prevent cancer from gaining a competitive edge.

Read full, original post: Darwin’s Ideas on Evolution Drive a Radical New Approach to Cancer Drug Use

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