A new research claims that chemotherapy could cause cancer to spread and not curb it. The study also claims that the new cancer could be more deadly.
Chemotherapy is often considered to be the first option in breast cancer patients which see a shrinking in the tumor and even curb the disease altogether.
However, scientists at New York's Albert Einstein College of Medicine have found evidence that this is only a short-term solution, suggesting that while shrinking the tumors, chemotherapy simultaneously opens a gateway for tumors to spread into the blood system enabling them to be back stronger.
Cancer at this point becomes impossible to treat as it often gets into Stage 4.
According to lead author Dr George Karagiannis, the findings, however, should not deter patients from seeking treatment but there could be a better way to monitor tumor movements in patients undergoing the treatment.
The treatment is often regarded as the first option for breast cancer patients to shrink tumors and even blitz the disease altogether.
However, scientists at New York's Albert Einstein College of Medicine have found evidence that this is only a short-term solution.
Their research suggests that, while shrinking the tumors, chemotherapy simultaneously opens a gateway for tumors to spread into the blood system, making it easier to grow back stronger.
Cancer becomes incredibly difficult to treat - often fatal - once it spreads to other organs; it is then classified as Stage 4.
Chemotherapy can be administered as a pill or through an intra-venous drip.
The drugs travel throughout the body in the bloodstream.
It is tipped as an effective way to reach cancer cells that may have spread away from the tumor, as is common with breast cancer. Senior author Peter Nelson, a human biology professor, said that in theory chemotherapy is perfect for killing cancer cells - mix a toxic dose of the drug with a tumor in a lab dish, and the tumor will not be able to survive or spread.
However, he said, the dose required to kill tumors is lethal for patients.
As such, doctors have to administer a lower dose, and it seems that has two key downsides. First, it facilitates dangerous spreading. Second, it allows some tumor cells to survive, become resistant to chemotherapy, and spread to other organs.
Secondary cancer is also referred to as metastatic cancer. It means the cancer has spread from the original site to another organ, via the lymph nodes.