How skin cancer spreads: a simple explanation

Photo credit: Unsplash+.

Cancer is a terrible disease. One of the things that makes it so difficult to deal with is its ability to spread.

This is called metastasis.

Put simply, metastasis occurs when cancer cells leave the original tumor and migrate to other parts of the body. There, these cells form new tumors.

This is a big problem because these new tumors can cause serious damage and are often the main reason cancer can be fatal.

Melanoma skin cancer, a type of cancer that starts in the skin, is one of the most rapidly spreading types of cancer.

How the study worked

A group of scientists at the Barts Cancer Institute, part of Queen Mary University of London, decided to investigate this problem.

They wanted to understand more about how these cancer cells can move and spread so quickly. They recently published their findings in a scientific journal called Nature Communications.

For their study, they examined how cancer cells move in a special model system.

With this system, they can see movement in three dimensions, which is much more similar to the movement of cells in the real world, compared to traditional models that only allow movement in two dimensions.

They observed that the cancer cells move in two ways.

The first type of movement is called mesenchymal migration. It’s a bit like crawling, where cells latch on to their surroundings and pull themselves forward. This requires a lot of energy.

The second type is called round amoeboid migration and is more like gliding. Here the cells do not cling to anything. Instead, they squeeze through the surrounding tissue. This requires less energy.

what they found out

The researchers found that the cancer cells, which were able to spread or metastasize, preferred the less energy-intensive style of movement, the gliding one.

To achieve this, the cells had to make changes to their mitochondria, which are like the powerhouses of a cell.

In normal cells, the mitochondria are large and branched in a network. They work in high-performance mode.

But in the cancer cells that were able to spread, the mitochondria became small and fragmented. They worked in energy saving mode.

The scientists found that these changes allowed the cells to move much more efficiently, which could help them survive and spread.

Interestingly, the researchers found that if they forced the mitochondria in these cancer cells to connect more tightly, like in normal cells, the cancer cells lost their ability to spread.

Conversely, when they fragmented the mitochondria in normal cells more, those cells began to behave more like cancer cells.

The main player: AMPK

The scientists also found a molecule called AMPK that appears to be responsible for these processes.

It is like a control center that keeps an eye on the energy needs of the cell and also manages the internal structure of the cell that determines how the cell moves and behaves.

What that means for us

These findings could be incredibly useful in finding new ways to prevent cancer from spreading.

If we can find a way to stop cancer cells from making these changes to their mitochondria, we may be able to stop them from spreading. This could lead to new treatments that could save lives.

If you care about the health of your skin, please read studies showing that smoking can cause this chronic skin condition Vitamin B3 could help prevent skin cancer.

If you are interested in skin cancer, please read the relevant studies A low-carb diet could increase the overall risk of cancerAnd Vitamin D supplements significantly reduce cancer death rates.

The study was published in nature communication.

Copyright © 2023 Knowridge Science Report. All rights reserved.

Related Articles

Back to top button