Sunday, December 15, 2013

Tumor signalling

What do crab apples and tumors have in common? Read below
Turns out tumors can message each other. This has been suspected for years though the precise pathway involved in this signalling has yet to be identified. The main evidence seems to be is a blossoming of  existing mets when the primary tumor is removed. It is as if the mother tumor in its death throes tells her children It's up to you my sweeties to carry out the work of destroying our host(ess). Get crackin'!!!!

To me, this signalling seems similar to that of the apple trees. 2012 was a bust for apples due to the early spring and then winter again. It's as if the trees said to themselves Well if we want babies, we are going to have to try twice as hard the next year leading to the bumper crop of apples in 2013. Some trees overdid it leading to splitting branches due to the increased weight of so much fruit.

Every year in early December there is a meeting in San Antonio showcasing recent progress against breast cancer. I read reports from this with a jaundiced eye. So many promises that rarely pan out into something useful. Some clinicians now are changing the treatment of newly diagnosed stage 4 patients based on the suspicion (I assume there is real evidence) removing the primary tumor will just make the mets grow that much faster. So they are leaving the primary tumor alone. It will probably die with chemo anyway. No one dies from the primary tumor and the surgery will just further weaken the patient.

Another nugget that came out of this meeting is the preliminary results of that clinical trial that I passed on 5 years ago.  They were giving one of 3 bone strengtheners, Zometa being the most well known inconveniently delivered as a monthly infusion, to stage 1 and 2 breast cancer patients and then watched for mets versus patients not on bone strengtheners So far, regardless of receptor status, mets have been 34% less prevalent in the treated patients. And not just bone mets but all mets. So maybe I should not have passed. But I don't seem to have mets so there.

More progress has been made extending the lives of stage 4 estrogen+ BC patients (never a cure however) but still a stage 4 TNBC patient's average survival is a mere 12 months, up from 6 months. Part of the problem is that TNBC is a catchall for many different tumors requiring different treatments. To be successful, each tumor needs to characterized and a treatment plan individualized. There are lots of irons in the fire but I suspect it will be years until something truly useful results.

Not a fan of Electra. Still snowing and my muscles are unused. I guess I could shovel...
But I am in project mode. Yesterday's work: x mas photo ornaments

No comments:


Blog Archive