There are instances when after removing tumors and undergoing chemotherapy, patients experience relapse and cancer cells show up again. So what gives? Well, cancer researchers have long wondered that this may be caused by the surrounding environment wherein the tumor had been. And surprisingly, they have learned that normal cells are accomplices of cancer cells.
Cancer researchers have long noticed that doses of chemo drugs that reliably kill cancer cells in laboratory cultures tend to be strikingly less effective in actual patients. They surmised that something about the environment in which a tumor sits — the tumor microenvironment — must be helping to shield it from the drugs’ full lethal effect.
They’ve learned that noncancerous cells within and around the tumor can physically block delivery of chemo drugs to the cancer, or send chemical signals that encourage tumor cells to survive, or prevent the immune system from launching an effective attack.
Find out more on Knowable Mag.
(Image credit: Allie Smith/Unsplash)