Researchers Trace The Origins Of Colorectal Cancer

First Posted: Feb 09, 2015 09:26 PM EST

Researchers at Keck Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC) have traced the origins of colorectal cancer cells, showing important clues to why tumor cells are relatively harmless or metastasize, in certain cases.

"It's like going back in time," Darryl Shibata, M.D., professor of pathology, Keck School of Medicine of USC, said in a news release. "The history of each tumor is written in its genomes. To prevent tumors, you want to see what happened early on and how to stop their first cell divisions."

Researchers looked at samples from the opposite sides of colorectal tumors that had been reconstructed via the first few divisions that took place when the nascent tumors were too small to detect.

When taking samples from opposite sides of colorectal tumors, researchers were able to reconstruct the first few divisions that occurred when the nascent tumors were too small to even detect.

Researchers found that many cancer cells, from the start, expressed abnormal mobility or even intermixing with cells that increased the risk of metastasizing in the body. However, tumor cells that were destined to form benign adenomas did not intermix, suggesting that some tumors are a lot more dangerous than others from the beginning.

A better understanding of which tumors are harmless or hold the possibility to metastasize will help future patients and health officials make decisions about surgery and tumor removal.

Now, researchers will work on the genesis of tumor cells to help determine if other cancers also behave in this fashion.

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