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EJC News Focus – February 2015

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Mathematicians address the puzzles in metastasis

Complex genetics involved in the spread of a cancer tell only half the story, according to a group of US-UK mathematicians and oncologists. Understanding the physical process by which circulating tumour cells (CTCs) move around the body would give a fuller picture of how and why cancers spread.

The researchers have developed a model based on blood flow around the body, plus the filtration of the CTCs by organ capillary beds. They suggest that taking a few extra measurements from patients could provide a more accurate prognosis, and influence treatment options in, for example, stage II colorectal cancer.

Here, Jake Scott (Lee Moffitt Cancer Center, Tampa, Florida, UK) and Philip Maini (Mathematical Institute, Oxford, UK) explain more to Helen Saul.

(See EJC 2014. Scott JG et al. A filter-flow perspective of haematogenous metastasis offers a non-genetic paradigm for personalised cancer therapy.)