Studies show that breast cancer spreads further at night

A team of researchers at ETH Zurich in Switzerland have found that breast cancer cells spread most effectively to other parts of the body during the night when the patient is asleep. The study, published in Nature on Wednesday (22/6), suggests that treatment is most effective when applied later in the day.

The study investigated 30 women with breast cancer, 9 of whom had metastatic cancer and were not treated. Blood samples were taken at 4 am and 10 am. The results showed that 78% of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) were found in the dawn sample.

Scientists performed similar tests on mice transplanted with different types of breast cancer and found that 87% to 99% of CTCs were found overnight, depending on the tumor. These cells also aggregated about 278 times more in the dawn sample (which increases the likelihood of forming new tumors).

“Most cancer treatments are not designed to attack tumor cells at any given time. They are thought to take into account that the tumor is there and should be struck at any time. Now we know we can better understand and improve treatment, “explains in an interview with the website New Scientist, scientist Nicola Aceto, one of the authors of the study.


He states that the results make sense. The immune system respects the circadian cycle and diminishes its effects while the individual is asleep, but the same does not happen with cancers that regenerate at different rhythms.

Scientists have asked some other questions, such as whether the findings have a specific time of sleep when tumor cells are most likely to develop, or whether the patient should sleep more or less to optimize treatment. Is said to be raised.

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