According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention every year 7.6 million people die from cancer
Hopefully the fact that scientists have found a way of knowing when a cancer
is about to recur will help reduce these numbers. This means doctors will have a way to attack a tumour
before it begins to spread.
is especially prone to making an unwelcome comeback. Nearly a quarter of women with the disease will experience it a second time within ten years, Herald Scotland
Scientists find a way of knowing when a cancer is about to recur
In the Herald Scotland
report, Lead scientist Professor Alan Melcher, from the University of Leeds, says: “The ability to predict when a patient's cancer will come back would be an invaluable tool in treating the disease, allowing doctors to treat the recurrence rapidly and effectively before it takes hold. But we now need to find a way of using this knowledge to develop a test for patients whose cancer could take several years to reappear.”
The main cause of cancer recurrence is small groups of tumour
cells that lie dormant, only to re-awaken once they have learned to evade the immune system
explains that for the purposes of the study, researchers used mice. They looked for early signs of an immune response triggered by a dormant cancer waking up. They found that detecting the signal made it possible to predict accurately when a cancer was about to return.
The scientists also discovered it was possible to force a cancer out of its slumber prematurely. The immune system
’s defences could track down the cancer cells and wipe them out.
The findings published in the journal Nature Medicine
are certainly good news considering that World Health Organisation projects that, without immediate action, the global number of deaths from cancer will increase by nearly 80% by 2030.