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One Breast Cancer Therapy Could Have Counter-Productive Effects
By HCat at 2007-02-08 07:36
One Breast Cancer Therapy Could Have Counter-Productive Effects

    A potential side effect of cancer patients treated with chemotherapyterm is a decrease of white blood cells. Cytotoxic chemotherapeutic agents work by destroying fast-proliferative cells. Unfortunately chemotherapy does not distinguish between normal and cancerous cells, thus normal fast-growing cells could also be destroyed. One group of cells that are affected by chemotherapy is white blood cells. White blood cells are needed by the immune system to fight infections, and the reduction in white blood cells may result in febrile neutropenia, a fever caused by reduced white blood cell count. Breast cancer patients treated with chemotherapy are often also treated with granulocyte-monocyte colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF).

    GM-CSF, is a protein secreted by macrophages that stimulates stem cells to produce granulocytes and macrophages, specific types of white blood cells. However, new evidence from the University of Michigan reports that treatment with GM-CSF could have adverse side effectsterm. Patients with breast cancer may experience metastasistermterm of cancer cells to the bone. The authors found that breast cancer cells known to be poor at producing bone metastasis in mice have low levels of GM-CSF. On the other hand, another breast cancer cell line, known to be very effective at producing bone metastasis in mice, has elevated levels of GM-CSF.

    In order to confirm that GM-CSF plays an important role in bone metastasis, the authors used an inhibitor of GM-CSF. Inhibition of GM-CSF reduced remarkably the number of bone metastasis in the metastaticterm proficient cell line. These findings suggest the importance of GM-CSF in the promotion of bone metastasis and in the potential counter-productive effects of treating patients with GM-CSF. Although these findings are very convincing in mice, caution should be given to the actual affects on bone metastasis in humans. Further studies are needed to confirm the role of GM-CSF in stimulating bone metastasis in humans.

This is the abstract for the article on GM-CSF and breast cancer treatment.

 



1 comment | 4702 reads

by HCat on Fri, 2007-02-09 08:31
I was discussing this article with a friend as well as the other article implicating GM-CSF having additional negative effects. My friend's boss is an MD, PhD so she asked her boss about the treatment implications. Her boss told her that GM-CSF is a standard treatment and not prescribing it could result in a law suit against the doctor. It seems that since this article is about mice studies and not humans, there is no immediate impact on physicians' choice when news of this type comes out. HC

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