Many cancer patients feel fearful when knowing cancer metastasis that is difficult to treat and cure. Nearly 90% of cancer -related deaths are reportedly caused by metastatic cancer rather than primary tumors.
Surgery is a conventional treatment, known for good therapeutic results, especially for early and mid-stage cancer. Many cancer patients tend to hold high expectation on surgery and think that everything will be okay after receiving surgical treatment. This thought is overly optimistic and neglects possible surgery-induced cancer metastasis.
Why cancer metastasizes after surgical removal of the tumor? There are four reasons for this.
Causes for surgery-induced cancer metastasis
1) Surgery fails to completely remove tumor cells
Microscopic residual lesions are possibly left after surgery and these lesions smash down into the body’s circulatory system and trigger cancer metastasis and recurrence.
Additionally, surgery fails to completely remove tumor stem cells. Tumor stem cells are able to self-renew and proliferate uncontrollably, playing a key role in promoting tumorigenesis, especially tumor recurrence and metastasis. Although surgery can significantly reduce the tumor volume and even achieve complete remission, it may not completely remove the cancer stem cells.
2) Surgery causes systemic inflammatory response
Patients after primary breast tumor resection are facing the risk of cancer metastasis and recurrence. Though diagnosed with localized breast cancer, one-third of patients are found that tumor cells have spread to distant sites. Most of these tumor cells are in the resting stage like hibernating babies, and some take years to relapse after surgery while some metastases shortly after the primary tumor resection.
The researchers found that Anti-inflammatory treatments in the perioperative period significantly reduced tumor growth and improved patient prognosis. They believe that tumor metastasis may be caused by the systemic inflammatory response during surgical healing.
In addition, clinical trials have shown that intraoperative administration of the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, ketorolac, can reduce the risk of distant recurrence by 41% in breast cancer patients undergoing primary tumor resection.
3) Surgery harms the immune system
Surgery can cause noxious stimulation and induce stress response to affect the immune system. Besides, anesthesia-related conditions in surgery can also inhibit the immune system, thus triggering tumor recurrence.
Previous Studies have shown that surgical removal of tumors can impair the ability of NK cells to attack and kill cancer cells within one month after surgery. Surgery stimulates the expression of myeloid-derived suppressor cells that inhibit NK cells to impair the immune system.
Prevention of surgery-induced cancer metastasis
Reducing the risk of cancer metastasis and recurrence after surgery playing an important role in improving the efficacy of surgery and prolonging the survival of patients.
First of all, It is helpful to receive adjuvant chemotherapy which can enhance the efficacy of surgery and reduce the risk of cancer metastasis and recurrence.
Exercise after surgery is also necessary. Proper exercise can promote physical recovery and improve body immunity. Also, a nutrient and healthy diet can provide adequate nutrition and regulate intestinal floras, which is very helpful for patients’ recovery and prevention of cancer metastasis and recurrence.
Some supplements help work against tumor metastasis and recurrence. Ginsenosides are anticancer active ingredients extracted from Araliaceae plants. Rare ginsenosides, the metabolites of prototype ginsenosides, exhibit strong anticancer activities. They can inhibit the growth and reproduction of tumor cells and induce apoptosis of cancer cells. Moreover, their anti-inflammatory properties can also improve the patient’s immunity. The combination of rare ginsenosides with surgical therapy is an effective means to improve the efficacy of surgery and reduce the risk of postoperative cancer metastasis and recurrence.