Medical insurance news - 'Fatty Apron' helps spread ovarian cancer
A "fatty apron" found within the abdomen helps fuel the spread of ovarian cancer, new research has claimed.
The study, published in Nature Medicine, discovered that once ovarian cancer cells reach this apron, they take it over. In 80 per cent of cases it is found that the cells have spread to this apron - otherwise known as omentum - by the time the disease has been diagnosed.
In the body, the omentum is located in the upper abdomen near the stomach and it helps support organs near to it, however, it is not essential. It was found that cancer growth in the omentum often exceeds the growth of the original ovarian tumour.
To get these results, the researchers from the University of Chicago injected cancer cells into healthy mice and found that they had reached the omentum within just 20 minutes. They noticed that protein signals emitting from the apron attracted the tumour cells, however, disturbing these signals helped reduce the attraction by at least 50 per cent.
Researchers believe the protein known as fatty acid binding protein - carrier of excess fat - could be key to the process and treatment could be directed towards it.
Lead author of the study and professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at the university Ernst Lengyel said of the group's research: "The cells that make up the omentum contain the biological equivalent of jet fuel. They feed the cancer cells, enabling them to multiply rapidly. Gaining a better understanding of this process could help us learn how to disrupt it."
Dr Kat Arney of Cancer Research UK said these are important results as it suggests it has found potential targets for the development of new treatments for the disease, which is the fifth most common to affect women in the UK.
"At the moment these are early experiments using mice and cells in the lab, so there's still a lot of work to turn this knowledge into a treatment that could help women," she added.
Last week, a study published in the British Journal of Cancer suggested that female medical insurance customers who take the contraceptive pill for ten years or longer could reduce the risk of suffering from ovarian cancer by up to 45 per cent