Scientists Discovered How Cancer Spreads and How to Slow It

Now that they know how it spreads, researchers are looking at ways of slowing it down.

June 20, 2017 11:34 am
beating cancer
The process of cancer spreading throughout the body is called metastasis. (Getty Images)

In order to keep cancer from killing patients, doctors need to slow down the disease.

Scientists now believe they know how cancer spreads, a key discovery that could help doctors learn how to slow it and even stop it all together.

Metastasis, the process of cancer spreading, causes 90 percent of deaths, according to the Baltimore Sun. It occurs when a piece of the tumor breaks off and travel to other parts of the body, usually through the lymphatic system or the bloodstream.

Hasini Jayatilaka, left, a post-doctoral fellow and Denis Wirtz, professor of chemical and biomedical engineering, who work together at Johns Hopkins University, discuss their discovery that a biochemical signaling process that causes the spread of cancer cells can be slowed down with the use of two existing drugs. (Amy Davis/Baltimore Sun/TNS via Getty Images)

Researchers at John Hopkins University have identified the biochemical method that starts metastasis. The Baltimore Sun reports the scientists also found two drugs, already approved by the FDA, that can dramatically slow down the spread of cancer.

Typical cancer treatments focus on shrinking cancerous tumors, but the John Hopkins researchers argue that suppressing metastasis would improve the patients’ odds of survival.

The team published the results of their findings in the journal Nature Communications. Looking ahead, the scientists will conduct trials with the drugs in humans to see how effective they will be in slowing metastasis.

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