Infection causes cancer to spread

Canadian researchers have discovered that there is a relationship between infection and cancer spreading.

When the body experiences an infection (for e.g. pneumonia after surgery), white blood cells are produced by the body to fight this infection.  This results in inflammation.  The white blood cells have a web-like net that captures bacteria.  However, this web has been shown to capture circulating tumour cells, and a protein in this web activates cancer cells.

“Over and over again, surgeons the world over were noticing that cancer recurred sooner if patients developed infectious complications such as pneumonia after surgery. “We were seeing this with many different cancers — head and neck cancer, colon cancer, stomach cancer, esophagus and lung cancer …”

So, a defense mechanism that is supposed to help the body is actually helping cancer spread.

Are there any solutions?

“Scientists are testing drugs already on the market to block or tear down those cellular webs in patients at risk of developing infectious complications after surgery.

A drug used to treat cystic fibrosis, and another used to prevent sepsis, or blood poisoning, have been tested on mice with cancer. The treated rodents were far less likely to have their tumours grow or spread. It was true for numerous cancers.”

[With thanks to Steve of]

Here’s an article on inflammation and cancer: