Stem cells found in tumors may indicate spread of disease

Dec 08, 2010

Research finds signs that cancer is spreading

Over the years, progress has been made in diagnosing and treating cancer. Now, research from the UCLA Health System may bring further understanding to the role stem cells play in lung cancer.

The study, published in Cancer Research, found an association between finding adult stem cells in tumors removed from lung cancer patients and a higher chance that cancer spread to other organs.

The American Cancer Society estimates that 157,300 people will die this year from lung cancer. They say that 1 in 13 men have a chance of developing the disease.

People who are diagnosed with cancer may find themselves paying more for life insurance. This may be particularly true given the high mortality of those with lung cancer.

"The overall five-year survival for lung cancer is only 15 percent, and this is mostly due to cancer recurrence and distant spread of the cancer," said co-senior study author Brigitte Gomperts. "This fits nicely with the idea that adult stem cells in the lung that are normally involved in repair become cancer stem cells, which are resistant to our conventional therapies."

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