I lost a good friend to colon cancer a few-years-ago. I had worked with him for almost 20 years and he had never been sick a day in his life. Then one day he complained of a pain in his side. The doctors at first thought that it was something wrong with his stomach. Then they found a grapefruit-sized tumor in his intestine.
After a several hour operation that removed 20-feet of his colon, he looked a lot better. He was happy that he didn’t have to wear one of those colostomy bags. I remember going camping with him and his wife that summer and we went on a 2-mile hike. I had trouble keeping up with him.
Then, the following summer, he was back in the hospital. The cancer had spread to his lungs, liver and kidneys. He was in an incredible amount of pain. I didn’t hear from him for a couple of months. His wife had left him and he had moved in with his sister. After I finally got a hold of her, she told me that Eric had passed away a few days earlier.
Eric was told that since he was young and healthy and had a lot to live for (he had just had a new baby.) his prognosis was good. But the thing that got him in the end was what is called metastasis, the process where cancer spreads throughout the body. It is the most dangerous part of having cancer.
Now scientists may have found out how this happens, how cancer spreads from one part of the body to the other. The cancer cells actually use their feet.
According to Medical News Today:
“Scientists now know that some cancer cells spread, or metastasize, throughout the body the old-fashioned way — by using their feet. But researchers at Duke Cancer Institute have discovered a way to short-circuit their travels by preventing the development of these feet, called invadopodia.”
This discovery is of double importance because these “feet” are also the way that the cells invade other cells in the body. They more or less stick their stinky feet in and kick the cell open by using protons in their feet.
This could lead to new treatments that stop the spread of the cancer as well as killing the cancer cells themselves. This combination treatment could be much more effective than either type of treatment alone.
The researcher found a protein in cancer cells that was important in the making of these little invading feet that also allow the cancer cells to move from one place to another in the body. By blocking the formation of this protein, they noticed that the feet disappeared.
Since it’s the metastasis that usually kills the victims of cancer, this could just be one of the important discoveries in cancer treatment in years.