How blood flow helps cancer to spread?

How blood flow helps cancer to spread?
How blood flow helps cancer to spread?

Metastasis is the spread of cancer to other parts of the body and the main reason why the disease is so serious. Now, brand new research reveals that blood flow is a key factor in this process.

What role does blood play in the spread of cancer?
In a paper that has now been published in the journal Developmental Cell, the scientists — who are from the National Institute of Health and Medical Research in France — describe their tests on zebrafish and humans.

The experiments confirmed that blood flow influences the locations at which migrating cancer cells "arrest" inside blood vessels.

They also detail how these cancer cells exit through the blood vessel walls and set up secondary tumor sites.

"A long-standing idea in the field," explains senior study author Dr. Jacky G. Goetz, head of the laboratory at the University of Strasbourg in France — where the study was conducted — "is that arrest is triggered when circulating tumor cells end up in capillaries with a very small diameter simply because of size constraints."

However, as Dr. Goetz explains, their findings show that "physical constraint" is not the only driver of metastasis, because "blood flow has a strong impact on allowing the tumor cells to establish adhesion with the vessel wall."
Metastasis and its main steps
Metastasis is the process through which tumor cells depart and migrate from their primary sites and travel through the lymph system or bloodstream to establish secondary, or metastatic, tumors in distant parts of the body.

Metastasis is a leading cause of cancer death and of "primary importance in the prognosis of cancer patients."

It is a complex process and proceeds as a sequence of steps, each of which must be completed in order for the secondary tumor to flourish. The series of steps, known as the "metastatic cascade," proceeds as follows:
  • invading nearby healthy tissue
  • crossing the walls of neighboring blood vessels and lymph nodes
  • traveling through the bloodstream or lymph system to distant parts of the body
  • arresting in remote, small blood vessels, or capillaries, invading their walls, and crossing over into the surrounding healthy tissue
  • seeding a viable, tiny tumor in the healthy tissue
  • generating a dedicated blood supply by growing new blood vessels to feed the new tumor
The new study concerns the fourth step, in which circulating tumor cells arrest in a capillary and cross through their endothelium, or the barrier of cells that line the vessel walls, into the surrounding tissue.

Study explores 'mechanical cues' in blood
In their study paper, the authors explain that "very little is known about how [circulating tumor cells] arrest and adhere to the endothelium of small capillaries and leave the bloodstream by crossing the vascular wall."

An area that is particularly unclear, they add, is the "role played by mechanical cues encountered in the blood" during this step.

Original Post: Medicalnewstoday
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