A new study has revealed that chemotherapy actually spreads cancer other than curing it.
Scientists say that the chemotherapy drugs reportedly increase a risk that cancer cells will migrate elsewhere in the body and trigger a ‘repair’ system which makes them grow back stronger.
The study was conducted on breast cancer patients by scientists from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York to examine the impact of chemotherapy on the patients.
They found that the blood vessels that allow cancer to spread throughout the body increased in 20 patients that were receiving two common chemotherapy drugs.
The experiments were conducted on mice where they found that the number of cancer cells circulating in the blood stream was increased when they received chemotherapy.
The researchers also revealed that the findings of the study also explains why some patients after undergoing chemotherapy and declared cancer free could have the cancer resurfacing and in most cases makes it more aggressive than the first time.
The study’s lead author, Dr. George Karagiannis did however make it clear that the findings of the study does not mean that cancer patients should avoid chemotherapy but rather patients on chemotherapy should be monitored in order to check whether the cancer was spreading or not.
“One approach would be to obtain a small amount of tumour tissue after a few doses of preoperative chemotherapy. If we observe that the markers scores are increased we would recommend discontinuing chemo and having surgery first, followed by post-operative chemo," he explained.
The study was only conducted on chemotherapy-induced cancer cell dissemination in breast cancer but Dr. George Karagiannis and his team revealed that they are currently testing out their experiment on other types of cancer to see if it will elicit the same effects.
"We are currently planning more extensive trials to address the issue."
100,000 lives are lost each year to non-communicable diseases with cardiovascular illnesses and cancers being the leading causes of death after infectious diseases – this is according to a report by the Ministry of Health released in April this year.
Chemotherapy is one of the preferred treatments of breast cancer.