A group of Australian scientists' claim that they have discovered how exactly cancer spreads and why drugs such as aspirin are beneficial to cancer patients, leading to hopes that new forms of treatments can be developed to combat the spread of cancer.
Researchers from the Peter MacCallum Cancer Institute in Melbourne focused on lymphatic vessels in the body's circulatory system and found that they are often "hijacked" when affected by cancer. The researchers found that the lymphatic vessels act as a pathway for cancer cells to spread out from the primary tumor and affect other parts of the body.
"Basically, the growth factors released by tumors also encourage nearby collecting lymphatic vessels to widen, increasing the capacity for these 'supply lines' to act as more effective conduits of cancer spread", lead researcher Associate Professor Steven Stacker said.
Professor Stacker added that their findings can be used to developed treatments that may act as a form of early warning system, identifying the presence of cancer tumors and provide effective treatment before the cancer becomes unmanageable. The study has been published in the journal Cancer Cell.