Chemotherapy can increase aggressivity in cancer, causing malignant cells to migrate and triggering more dangerous tumors — thereby also increasing the disease’s fatality — researchers in the United States found.
“The blood vessels of patients receiving chemotherapy drugs have more ‘entry points’ through which cancer cells can get into the blood flow and disperse throughout the body, scientists report today in Science Translational Medicine. In mice with breast cancer, chemotherapy shrinks the primary tumor but boosts the number of cancer cells in the lungs and circulating the body.”
Although it appears chemo effectively shrinks primary tumors, the treatment ultimately triggers the spread of malignant cells, causing cancer to act aggressively and often, leading to the patient’s death.
“It is thought the toxic medication switches on a repair mechanism in the body which ultimately allows tumours to grow back stronger. It also increases the number of ‘doorways’ on blood vessels which allow cancer to spread throughout the body,” the Telegraphreports.
“Dr George Karagiannis, of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, New York, found the number of doorways was increased in 20 patients receiving two common chemotherapy drugs.
“He also discovered that in mice with breast cancer chemotherapy increased the number of cancer cells circulating the body and in the lungs.”
Due to this astonishing risk, Karagiannis recommends breast cancer patients be meticulously monitored upon beginning chemotherapy for signs the dangerous cells have begun circulating elsewhere or indications those ‘doorways’ are opening.
“One approach would be to obtain a small amount of tumour tissue after a few doses of preoperative chemotherapy,” the doctor explained.
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“If we observe that the markers scores are increased we would recommend discontinuing chemo and having surgery first, followed by post-operative chemo. We are currently planning more extensive trials to address the issue.”
Karagiannis emphasizes this does not mean patients should abandon chemotherapy outright; rather, medical personnel should closely observe patients to ensure cancer cells aren’t spreading elsewhere.
Although this study focused on breast cancer, Dr. Karagiannis and the other researchers intend to study other cancers to see if chemotherapy acts equivalently.
“In this study we only investigated chemotherapy-induced cancer cell dissemination in breast cancer,” Karagiannis said. “We are currently working on other types of cancer to see if similar effects are elicited.”
Another recent study of chemotherapy found, in the treatment of leukemia, following the traditional treatment with cannabinoids — the active compounds in the federally-banned cannabis plant — significantly improved patients’ success rates.
Published in the International Journal of Oncology, the study found,
“In addition to the well-known palliative effects of cannabinoids on some cancer-associated symptoms, a large body of evidence shows that these molecules can decrease tumour growth in animal models of cancer. They do so by modulating key cell signalling pathways involved in the control of cancer cell proliferation and survival. In addition, cannabinoids inhibit angiogenesis and decrease metastasis in various tumour types in laboratory animals.”
Smoking cannabis, the researchers noted, does not provide similar benefits to the highly-concentrated plant extracts, and cannabinoids showed no increased advantage in treatment unless administered after chemotherapy.
Although researchers studying the deleterious effects of chemotherapy on breast cancer did not examine cannabis or cannabinoids for benefit, it must be emphatically noted the U.S. government — the same government responsible for the continuation of cannabis prohibition which lands countless medical patients behind bars — states plainly on its website for the National Cancer Institute,
“Cannabis has been shown to kill cancer cells in the laboratory.”