Chemotherapy spreads cancer! You get the message? Is it a joke of some kind? And in this present age, is it fake news? Many people would argue — if chemo is that bad as implied by the title of this article, why then governments all over the world endorse such treatment? Chemotherapy for cancer is supposed to be proven and scientific, right? Why do doctors give chemo to their patients if it is that bad? Do I need to answer such questions?
Here are some facts presented by scientists.
On 30 December 2018, a group of medical researchers from the School of Life Sciences, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Lausanne, Switzerland; Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA and Department of Developmental and Molecular Biology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York, NY, USA, wrote an article in the Nature Cell Biology journal: Chemotherapy elicits pro-metastatic extracellular vesicles in breast cancer models https://www.nature.com/articles/s41556-018-0256-3.
Below is the abstract of this research report:
- Primary tumours release extracellular vesicles (EVs), that can facilitate the seeding and growth of metastatic cancer cells in distant organs.
- Two classes of cytotoxic drugs broadly employed in pre-operative (neoadjuvant) breast cancer therapy, taxanes and anthracyclines, elicit tumour-derived EVs with enhanced pro-metastatic capacity.
- Chemotherapy-elicited EVs are enriched in annexin A6 (ANXA6), a Ca2+-dependent protein that promotes NF-κB-dependent endothelial cell activation, Ccl2induction and Ly6C+CCR2+ monocyte expansion in the pulmonary pre-metastatic niche to facilitate the establishment of lung metastasis.
Don’t blame yourself if you don’t understand what these researchers are talking about. You and me are just laymen — how are we to understand such scientific language? Moreover, some of us don’t read English! How to understand if you only learn your native language in school? Such is our world today.
Let me try to explain what these researchers are trying to tell us by reproducing what others wrote about this particular research results. Perhaps it is easier to understand if it is written in layman’s language.
On 1 January 2019, the Science Daily posted this article, Tumors backfire on chemotherapy. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/01/190101094531.htm. There is another article in the Daily Mail, UK – Chemotherapy may cause breast cancer to SPREAD: Two commonly used drugs encourage the disease to develop in the lungs. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-6542277/Chemotherapy-cause-breast-cancer-SPREAD.html
If you have breast cancer, chemotherapy is often given before surgery. This is called neoadjuvant therapy. The idea in this case is to shrink the tumour and make it easier to remove. Or the chemotherapy is given to “weaken” the cancer. After chemo, the patient’s remaining tumor is removed by surgery.
Unfortunately, the treatment does not always shrink the tumour. If the growth resists neoadjuvant therapy, the cancer is more likely to spread to other parts of the body.
Basically these are what can happen when patients undergo chemotherapy:
- The commonly prescribed chemo drugs: paclitaxel (or Taxol) and doxorubicin (or Adriamycin) cause breast tumours to release small fluid-filled sacs called exosomes.
- Chemo-treated tumours makes exosomes that contain a protein called annexin-A6. Annexin-A6 is not found in sacs released from untreated tumours.
- Once released from tumours, exosomes circulate in the blood until they reach the lungs.
- They then give out annexin-A6, which stimulates lung cells to release another protein called CCL2.
- CCL2 then attracts immune cells called monocytes, which fight certain infections and help other cells remove dead or damaged tissue.
- This immune reaction can be dangerous, because those monocytes can facilitate the survival and growth of cancerous cells in the lung, which is one of the initial steps in metastasis.
Is this the only research showing the chemotherapy spreads cancer? NO – there are many more researchers in the US who have also reported the same message — chemotherapy spreads cancer!
On 6 August 2012, researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, USA, published their research results in Nature Medicine. https://www.nature.com/articles/nm.2890. These are what they said:
- Cancer cells inside the body live in a very complex environment or neighborhood. Where the tumorcell resides and who its neighbors are influence its response and resistance to chemotherapy.
- In the laboratory, you can “cure” almost any cancer — you just give a huge dose of toxic chemo-drug to the cancer cells in the petri dish and the cancer cells are destroyed. But you can’t do that to patients, because the high dose would not only kill cancer cells but also healthy cells. The dose you would need to give the patient to wipe out the cancer would also kill the patient. So in real life, if you want to kill all cancer cells, you can also kill the patient at the same time!
- So chemo treatment of common solid tumors has to be given as smaller doses paced out in cycles, to give healthy cells time to recover in the intervals. But the drawback is that this approach may not kill all the cancer cells. Those cancer cells that survive can become resistant to subsequent cycles of the chemotherapy.
- Normal, non-cancerous cell, the fibroblast, that lives near cancer tumors are important for healing wounds and producing When their DNA is damaged, by chemotherapy, fibroblasts can release a broad range of compounds that stimulate cell growth. So you see, in the process of trying to kill cancer cells, chemotherapy may also spur healthy cells in the neighbourhood to release a compound that stimulates cancer growth, eventually leading to treatment resistance.
- The researchers examined cancer cells from prostate, breast andovarian cancer patients who had been treated with chemotherapy. They found that when the DNA of fibroblasts near the tumor is damaged by chemotherapy, they start producing a protein called WNT16B in the microenvironment of the tumor.
- When the protein reaches a high enough level, sometimes increased by thirty-fold. This protein, WNT16B, when secreted, would interact with nearby tumour cells and cause them to grow, invade, and importantly, resist subsequent chemotherapy.
Read these articles:
- Can chemotherapy before surgery fuel breast cancer metastasis? https://www.facingourrisk.org/XRAYS/neoadjuvant-chemotherapy-and-metastasis
2. Neoadjuvant chemotherapy induces breast cancer metastasis through a TMEM-mediated mechanism. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28679654
3. Chemotherapy could cause cancer to SPREAD and grow back even more aggressive, new study claims
- Can chemotherapy before surgery fuel breast cancer metastasis?
Scientists at New York’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine, US, have found evidence that chemotherapy is only a short-term solution and can be dangerous. In their study they investigated chemotherapy-induced cancer cell dissemination in breast cancer.
- While chemotherapy may shrink the tumors, chemotherapy could causecancer to spread and become more deadly.
- And once cancer spreads to other organs it becomes almost impossible to treat and is often fatal.
- Three standard chemo-drugs used in neoadjuvant treatment for breast cancer are: paclitaxel (Taxol), doxorubicin (Andriamycin) and cyclophosphamide. They are shown to increase the number of microscopic structures in breast tumors called tumor microenvironment of metastasis (TMEM), as well as the number of tumor cells circulating in the blood.
How chemo spreads cancer: Scientists believe that in order for metastasis to occur, three types of cells must come in close contact with each other on a blood vessel wall:
- tumor cells, that produce high levels of a specific protein.
- immune cells called macrophage, and
- endothelial cells (cells which line organs such as blood vessels).
These spots, called “tumor microenvironments of metastasis” or “TMEMs” are found on blood vessels within tumors.
To enable the cancer cells to spread, the macrophages in a TMEM loosen the normally tight connection that exists between endothelial cells, creating a temporary opening in the wall of a blood vessel for the tumor cell to squeeze through and enter the bloodstream, facilitating its spread to other parts of the body.
Watch this video. Hopefully it can help you better understand the complicated process. https://www.youtube.com/embed/IvyJKrx5Xmw?feature=plcp&rel=0&showinfo=0&autoplay=1
This article, Is an anticancer drug helping cancer to spread? https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318846#1
reported the work of another group of scientists at the Ohio State University (OSU) led by Tsonwin Hai, a professor of biological chemistry and pharmacology at OSU. They studied the effects of the commonly used chemo-drug paclitaxel (Taxol) on the spread of breast cancer cells to the lungs. Taxol is also commonly used as a frontline medication in treating ovarian and lung cancer (besides breast cancer).
How a chemo drug can help cancer spread from the breast to the lungs? You can get the answers by reading these two articles: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-08/osu-hac080417.php, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318846.php#1
- Paclitaxel may activate Atf3 (Activating Transcription Factor 3) gene: In those who had received chemotherapy, the gene Atf3is overexpressed, compared with patients who were not administered chemotherapy. ATF3 is overexpressed in a large fraction of various cancers including solid tumors in the breast, lungs, pancreas, and colon. ATF3 is hyperactivated in most cells in Hodgkin’s disease. Overexpression of ATF3 in cancer cells have been proposed to promote proliferation and inhibit cell death.
- According to the OSU researches, the findings suggest that paclitaxel may have a carcinogenic effect by activating this gene. This gene seems to do two things at once:
- essentially help distribute the ‘seeds’ (cancer cells)- increasing “the abundance of the tumormicroenvironment of metastasis, and
- fertilize the ‘soil’ (the lung – by improving “the tissue microenvironment (the ‘soil’) for cancer cells (the ‘seeds’) to thrive” at the level of the metastatic lung.
These changes, include increased inflammatory monocytes and reduced cytotoxicity.
Prof. Hai says: What is surprising to us is the multitude of pro-cancer effects that paclitaxel has! It not only enhances the escape of cancer cells from the primary tumor but also facilitates the preparation of distant sites (lung in our case) in such ways that when the cancer cells arrive, they can set up shop and grow.
Chemotherapy is ‘a double-edged sword: Paclitaxel seems to set off a molecular chain reaction, the end result of which is the creation of a cancer cell-friendly environment in the lungs. Prof. Hai ventures a possible explanation for the study’s findings. She says, I think it’s an active process – a biological change in which the cancer cells are beckoned to escape into the blood – rather than a passive process in which the cancer cells get into the bloodstream because of leaky vessels.
- Researchers found that the use of chemotherapy — extremely toxic class of drugs — can trigger the onset of new tumors in other parts of the body.
- Chemotherapy drugs in breast cancer results in production of specific proteins. These circulate in the blood and, upon reaching the lungs, cause the release of further proteins and immune cells that can facilitate the development of metastatic cancer cells.
- It is like, chemo makes the cancer tumor produce more seeds. These seeds are then carried away to other parts of the body. The chemo also makes the soil so fertile and conducive for the seeds to grow!
Why condone and still “selling” such therapy?
- Through its continued sale and promotion of toxic chemotherapy drugs for cancer, the pharmaceutical industry is thus ensuring that, far from eradicating the disease, it continues to exist.
- Small wonder, therefore, that the size of the global oncology market is expected to reach an eye-watering $200 billion annually by the year 2022.
- The World Health Organization estimates that cancer is now responsible for 9.6 million deaths per year. Breast cancer and lung cancer are the most common forms of the disease, with each seeing over 2 million cases per year.
- The total annual economic cost of cancer is equally startling, amounting to more than $1 trillion each year. Not only is there no sign of this decreasing, but with the price of some new so-called monoclonal antibodies or biosimilar molecules for cancer now reaching $700,000 per patient per year.
Cancer Drugs Are The Most Profitable For Big Pharma
Drugs for cancer have been the largest business sector of the global pharmaceutical industry for several years now. This is the real reason why cancer still exists.
With annual revenues from the disease exceeding $123 billion a year, drug companies have no interest in preventing the disease. Instead, they prefer to profit from it by selling patented chemical treatments that don’t address its primary cause.
For more information you can read our previous articles
Chemotherapy Spreads Cancer and Makes It More Aggressive: Articles From the Internet
Compiled by Yeong Sek Yee & Khadijah Shaari