Tag Archives: Cancer Surgery

Surgery for Breast Cancer May Awaken Sleeping Cancer Cells

Surgery for Breast Cancer May Awaken Sleeping Cancer Cells
Surgery for Breast Cancer May Awaken Sleeping Cancer Cells

One of the challenges in developing immunotherapy for cancer treatments is that benefits of a method are sometimes offset by drawbacks. In a recent example, scientists have found that breast cancer surgery may trigger micrometastases that are too small to be found on imaging.

Seeking Treatment for Metastatic Breast Cancer

Approximately 35 percent of women who are diagnosed with breast cancer already have thousands of these micrometastases lying dormant in their system. Only half of them develop into full-blown metastatic cancer, and scientists believe the half that remain dormant are controlled by immune system activity.

A research team at the Whitehead Institute wanted to explore the problem, but they didn’t want to withhold surgery from breast cancer patients to form a control group. Testing was conducted on mice that had been injected with breast cancer cells and undergone simulated “surgery.”

“Surgery-Driven Interruption of Dormancy”

Of the mice that had “surgery,” 60 percent had continued growth of cancer cells, while only 10 percent of the mice that didn’t receive surgery had the same result. The team concluded that “surgical wounding” superseded attacks by the immune system, allowing the tiny malignancies to grow.

The test also uncovered a possible solution. When the mice were given non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) pre- and post-“surgery,” it appeared to counteract the negative effects of the wounds. This opens the door to the possibility of over-the-counter products such as aspirin and ibuprofen being used as treatments.

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Study Finds that Older Lung Cancer Patients May Still Benefit from Surgery

Lung Cancer
Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is the second most common form of cancer in both men and women, and nearly all the patients are over the age of 45. Despite the fact that the average age of diagnosis is 70, cancer surgery is proving to be a viable treatment option that can extend the lives of these patients.

Is Surgery Appropriate for Older Patients?

The general opinion, even among healthcare professionals, is that surgery is too hard on the aging bodies of older patients to be considered as a solution for lung cancer. Treatment then focuses on controlling the symptoms rather than attempting curative solutions.

Evaluating Surgical Treatment for Lung Cancer

In October 2016 the Journal of Clinical Oncology published a study headed up by Dr. Prasad Adusumilli, a thoracic surgeon at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. Participants included more than 2,000 patients diagnosed with Stage 1 non-small cell lung cancer. Approximately 70 percent of the subjects were 65 or older.

After these patients had surgery to remove the tumors, the group experienced a remarkable track record of success. The first year follow-up showed that patient deaths to that point were most often due to causes other than lung cancer. Even more encouraging news was that after five years nearly 90 percent of the patients were alive and cancer-free.

Instead of Surgery Consider Immunotherapy for Cancer

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