Surgery may Increase Tumor Growth

Researchers reported in an April, 2018 study that the wound-healing process (the research focused on “after cancer” surgery) can cause dormant tumors to begin growing in injured mice (Science Translational Medicine). The finding may help explain what I’ve been saying for some time: metastatic recurrence is often more

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common in cancer patients following surgery.

“It’s not the actual surgery, but instead, it’s the post-surgical wound response,” coauthor Robert Weinberg, a biologist at MIT, tells USA Today. “It is provoking already disseminated cells to begin to grow into clinically detectable metastases.”

Weinberg and his colleagues observed that T cells prevented tumors from proliferating by keeping them in a dormant state. They hypothesized that when the immune system is preoccupied with wound recovery, its ability to keep cancer cells in check is compromised. To test whether cancer surgery could cause the cancer cells to awaken, they first injected mice with breast cancer cells, allowed tumors to grow, and then surgically removed previously implanted sterile sponges from the mice. The sponges were used to model the resection of a mass, while the tumors were left intact to avoid disturbing them and to maintain consistency across the animals.

I’ve previously stated that growth hormone and mTOR up-regulation necessary in the body’s normal response to help heal a wound is similar to throwing gasoline on a fire. The research found that in mice who were operated on, 60 percent of the tumors continued to grow. In control mice that did not undergo surgery, only 10 percent of tumors persisted, revealing that factors are at play post-surgery.

One may want to choose to forego elective surgeries when also dealing with cancer.