The size of the tumor cells in melanoma allows us to predict the best prognosis and therapy for each patient, potentially allowing us to maximize the chances of successful treatments. This was revealed by research published in the journal Science Advances.
Cancer cells were generally thought to be ‘a hodgepodge of different sizes’, says Chris Bakal of the Institute of Cancer Research in London who led the work using high-power imaging to assess how genetic changes affect the size of millions of cells. melanoma cells.
Melanoma develops from skin cells called melanocytes and is the most serious type of skin cancer.
The scientists found that the smallest cells were around 17 micrometres (μm) in size, while the largest had an average size of 50μm. The smaller cells contained higher amounts of DNA repair proteins, suggesting that they can tolerate more DNA damage. These cells may therefore be more vulnerable to drugs that block DNA repair, particularly when combined with chemotherapy, which damages DNA, Bakal explains.
The larger cells, however, contained DNA damage and relied less on DNA repair tools. According to the researchers, this could make chemotherapy less effective on these cells and immunotherapy more effective, if they appear “more foreign” to the immune system. In fact, immunotherapy helps the immune system recognize and attack cancer cells.
Creating a treatment strategy based on the size of the melanoma cells could help reduce the side effects some people experience when taking cancer drugs, Bakal says. The findings could also improve our understanding of cancer cells in general.
Researchers are studying whether similar findings could be applied to head and neck cancers. (HANDLE).
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