Stress is implicated in increased tumor progression risk and poor survival in cancer patients. A number of recent studies have linked these effects to the promotion of tumor cell dissemination through the bloodstream via stress-induced pathways, reports THE SCIENTIST.
Now, a mouse study led by researchers in Australia has revealed the mechanisms by which stress modulates cancer’s spread through another transport network open to tumor cells—the lymphatic system. The findings were published March 1 in Nature Communications.
“Stress not only affects your well-being, but it also affects your biology,” said study coauthor Erica Sloan, a cancer researcher at Monash University in Melbourne. “Our study particularly highlights the early steps of tumor cell dissemination into the lymphatic system.”
Chronic stress, mediated partly through the sympathetic nervous system, has been associated in cancer patients with a number of physiological changes that promote metastasis (the spread of cancer), including the promotion of blood vessel formation and the recruitment of inflammatory cells like macrophages.