Scientists have recently shown the successful reduction of metastasis in post-surgery colorectal cancer patients. The study, reported in Cancer earlier this summer, concludes a three-year period during which researchers followed 34 patients receiving treatment for colorectal cancer.
The Tel Aviv University scientists leading the study administered medication to the patients during the pre- and post-surgical period in order to monitor corporal stress responses and physiological inflammation. The drugs administered were Propranolol (Deralin), an anti-anxiety and blood pressure reducing dru, and Etodolac (Etopan), an anti-inflammatory analgesic. The patients received them starting five days before surgery throughout the two weeks following the surgery. Half of the patients were administered a placebo treatment as a control group.
Reducing stress and inflammation aided in impeding the development of metastases, say the researchers. "When the body is in a state of stress, whether physiological (from surgery) or psychological, this causes a release of high amounts of two types of hormones, prostaglandins and catecholamines," explains Professor Shamgar Ben-Eliyahu from TAU's School of Psychological Sciences and Sagol School of Neuroscience.
"These hormones suppress the activity of the immune cells, indirectly promoting the development of cancer metastases. In addition, these hormones also directly promote the acquisition of metastatic traits in cancer tissue. Our study shows that inexpensive, accessible medication treatment could be used in order to reduce body stress responses and inflammation associated with surgery, which affects the tumor, significantly reducing the risk of metastases that might be detected months or years after surgery."
Together with Professor Oded Zmora from Shamir (Assaf Harofeh) Medical Center, Professor Ben-Eliyahu found that 12.5% (2 out of 16) of patients administered the drug treatment showed metastasis, compared to 33% (6 out of 18 patients) in the control group. While the findings suggest significant improvement, the researchers say that in order to confirm their findings further tests with larger populations should be established.
The team analyzed cancerous tissues from the patients to determine how the medications reduced metastasis. They found that the medications positively affect in the number and type of infiltrating tumor leukocytes, creating a microenvironment that is hostile to cancer cells’ growth.