Children's Hospital Boston launches an interactive look at cancer
Web feature explores the progression of carcinoma from a single cell to metastasis
March 28, 2007
Carcinomas, a type of cancer that arises in epithelial cells, accounts for more than 90 percent of all cancer cases. In this Web-based presentation, cancer researchers Bruce Zetter, PhD, and Marsha Moses, PhD, identify fourteen possible stages of a carcinoma and show the possible paths the disease can take as it moves from one stage to another.
How Cancer Grows and Spreads is an animated Flash presentation that illustrates the growth, progression and metastasis of carcinomas. Using the presentation's "roadmap," users are able to choose their own routes as they travel from one possible cancer stage to the next. At each stop along the way, they learn details about that stage through descriptions and animated illustrations, and they can learn about current treatments and the latest research advances.
Most people who die from cancer do not succumb to the original tumor. In fact, the vast majority of tumors that establish themselves in our bodies never make it beyond the initial stages, and of those that manage to make it through to malignancy, many can be successfully treated. For cancers that do continue to grow and spread (metastasize), the disease can progress through up to fourteen possible stages. These stages include angiogenesis, tumor expansion, lymphangiogenesis, local invasion inside the tumor, local invasion outside the tumor, travel to regional lymph nodes, single cell metastasis, and micro and macro metastases.
Bruce Zetter, PhD, is a pioneer in understanding how cell movement affects tumor metastasis. In 1980, he made the key discovery that interferon alpha, which inhibits viral proliferation, also inhibits the locomotion of endothelial cells necessary for angiogenesis. His work led to the use of interferon alpha to treat hemangiomas. Zetter's laboratory currently focuses on tumor metastasis and on identifying diagnostic and prognostic markers that can guide treatment decisions, including a new prognostic marker for prostate cancer.
Marsha Moses, PhD, is an expert in the identification and characterization of the biochemical and molecular mechanisms underlying the regulation of angiogenesis during tumor progression, from the angiogenic switch through metastasis. Moses and her group have discovered five different angiogenesis inhibitors, three of which are in clinical development for use against a variety of cancers. In addition, the Moses Lab, as part of their long-term Urinary Proteomics Initiative, was the first to identify a panel of urinary biomarkers that predicts disease status and stage. This panel -- the first to be developed as a urine test for cancer -- will provide a sensitive and non-invasive test for a variety of human cancers.
Children's Hospital Boston is home to the world's largest research enterprise based at a pediatric medical center, where its discoveries have benefited both children and adults since 1869. More than 500 scientists, including eight members of the National Academy of Sciences, 11 members of the Institute of Medicine and 10 members of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute comprise Children's research community. Founded as a 20-bed hospital for children, Children's Hospital Boston today is a 347-bed comprehensive center for pediatric and adolescent health care grounded in the values of excellence in patient care and sensitivity to the complex needs and diversity of children and families. Children's also is the primary pediatric teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School. For more information about the hospital and its research visit: www.childrenshospital.org/newsroom.