It has long been known that nearly all cancer patients develop a certain degree of resistance to chemotherapy after receiving the treatment for varying periods of time. This means that for some patients, especially those that suffer from lung cancer and other forms that are prone to spreading, chemotherapy treatment can actually cause worse cancers to come back, leading to greater illness and, in many cases, death.
Because chemotherapy is one of the most common methods of treatment for most forms of cancer, including mesothelioma and lung cancer, researchers have been hard at work for many years, attempting to determine why chemo resistance often ends up making the disease worse. Now, researchers have made an important finding by isolating a protein cell that, when exposed to chemotherapy drugs, may produce molecules that encourage tumor growth.
Specifically, the protein is a normal, noncancerous cell that “lives in the cancer’s neighborhood.” Generally, those cells play an important role in healing and maintaining healthy cell structure. But recent research shows that, when the cell is exposed to chemo, its DNA becomes damaged and produces molecules that are connected to the growth of cancerous tumors. Further, the chemo may cause the cells to multiply exponentially, further increasing their impact and potential harm.
Although the recent finding is not a definitive answer to the question of why chemo resistance leads to additional tumors, it is a promising development in this long research process. Hopefully, doctors will soon know more about using chemotherapy to treat mesothelioma and all other forms of cancer.
Source: CBS News, “Chemotherapy resistance in cancer treatment tied to nearby proteins,” Ryan Jaslow, Aug. 6, 2012