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article imageStudy: Chemotherapy can make cancer worse

By Abigail Prendergast     Aug 7, 2012 in Science
Chemotherapy has long been known as the most effective, albeit highly aggressive form of cancer treatment. However, a shocking new study has found that it may just make the cancer worse by via high production rate of the WNT16B protein.
Chemotherapy, an aggressive form of - and highly popular - cancer treatment, is now being seen in an entirely different light that it has been for decades.
According to New York Daily News, contrary to what many have thought for several years, chemotherapy can actually make cancer even worse, says a shocking new study. The finding was entirely inadvertent, discovered while researchers attempted to ascertain the reason cancer cells' resilience in the human body as opposed to a laboratory.
One of the main concerns with chemotherapy is that it cannot tell cancerous cells apart from healthy ones says GizModo. It pretty much "works by inhibiting reproduction of fast-dividing cells such as those found in tumors," says NY Daily.
Scientists have tested the effects of chemo on men with prostate cancer, and found "evidence of DNA damage" within their healthy cells after the treatment.
The study basically says that chemotherapy, upon damaging normal cells, causes a protein called WNT16B to be excessively secreted. This protein is crucial to the survival of cancer cells.
"The increase in WNT16B was completely unexpected," said study co-author Peter Nelson, of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center to the AFP.
The WNT16B is subsequently picked up by neighboring tumors after being produced by the damaged cells.
Usually cancer treatment regimens start well, but then the tumors return requiring more chemo and more resistance to it from the cancerous cells. The production rate of these cells grows exponentially during the time in between.
Researchers have said that they confirmed their initial findings via studies with breast and ovarian cancers.
These new findings seem that they will be very useful in future, and may even be incorporated with chemotherapy treatments, said Nelson.
"For example, an antibody to WNT16B, given with chemotherapy, may improve responses (kill more tumor cells)," he said through an e-mail. "Alternatively, it may be possible to use smaller, less toxic doses of therapy."
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