Mathematical Biology and Ecology Seminar
Wednesday, April 25, 2012 - 11:05am
1 hour (actually 50 minutes)
Idaho State University
Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE Over the last several decades, cancer has become a global pandemic of epic proportions. Unfortunately, treatment strategies resulting from the traditional approach to cancer have met with only limited success. This calls for a paradigm shift in our understanding and treating cancer. In this talk, we present an entirely mechanistic, comprehensive mathematical model of cancer progression in an individual patient accounting for primary tumor growth, shedding of metastases, their dormancy and growth at secondary sites. Parameters of the model were estimated from the age and volume of the primary tumor at diagnosis and volumes of detectable bone metastases collected from one breast cancer and 12 prostate cancer patients. This allowed us to estimate, for each patient, the age at cancer onset and inception of all detected metastasis, the expected metastasis latency time and the rates of growth of the primary tumor and metastases before and after the start of treatment. We found that for all patients: (1) inception of the first metastasis occurred very early when the primary tumor was undetectable; (2) inception of all or most of the surveyed metastases occurred before the start of treatment; (3) the rate of metastasis shedding was essentially constant in time regardless of the size of the primary tumor, and so it was only marginally affected by treatment; and most importantly, (4) surgery, chemotherapy and possibly radiation bring about a dramatic increase in the rate of growth of metastases. Although these findings go against the conventional paradigm of cancer, they confirm several hypotheses that were debated by oncologists for many decades. Some of the phenomena supported by our conclusions, such as the existence of dormant cancer cells and surgery-induced acceleration of metastatic growth, were first observed in clinical investigations and animal experiments more than a century ago and later confirmed in numerous modern studies.