Cancer cells spread by disguising themselves

Researchers from Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, may have discovered how cancer cells can sneak into the lymphatic system and spread throughout the body to form secondary tumors. They appear to "disguise" themselves as white blood cells.

The research team found that a protein tied to inflammation--called TGF-beta--can help cancer cells “disguise” as white blood cells by giving the cancer cells surface receptors only seen on white blood cells in the lymphatic system. That allows the disguised cells to move through the lymphatic system and target certain areas, such as the lymph nodes.

The scientists say their findings provide more evidence of a link between inflammation and cancer, and could lead to new treatments to help slow or prevent the spread of cancer. 

The study was published in Oncogene.

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