Photo: Phil and Pam Gradwell/Flickr
Despite its life-saving qualities, chemotherapy has long had a nasty reputation, known as a necessary poison for people suffering from cancer.But in some cases, chemotherapy is so damaging that it may even backfire and make the cancer worse, a new study has found.
The study, published in Nature Medicine, found that chemotherapy causes damage to healthy cells, which triggers them secrete a protein that actually sustains tumour growth, Cancer UK reported.
The researchers made the finding while trying to figure out a major mystery: why are cancer cells are so easy to kill in a lab, but so difficult to kill in the human body? The findings were “completely unexpected,” researchers told AFP.
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In cancer treatment, tumors often respond well at first, only to rapidly regrow and become resistant to chemotherapy later on, AFP reported. “Our results indicate that damage responses in benign cells … may directly contribute to enhanced tumour growth kinetics,” the research team wrote. A solution to this problem would be chemotherapy that is better at targeting cancer cells and avoiding healthy cells.
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