CU Cancer Centre

Tumors Can Mask Itself From Radiotherapy

Tumors usually form in the human body as part of cell decay or as a reaction from other diseases. One most common cause of tumors is the presence of cancer in the human body. However, cancerous tumors can be treated using radiation. Yet, it has been observed that tumors can actually shade itself from the immune system which causes radiation to be ineffective.

A new study led by PhD holder Sana Karam, who is an investigator at CU Cancer Center and assistant professor of Radiation Oncology at the CU School of Medicine. He published the study and the results in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

The observation was shown as radiation uses the immune system to reach the tumor cells. If the tumor was able to mask itself in the body, then the radiation will be worthless. The main target is to amend the radiotherapy to help the immune system located the tumors.

Dr. Sana commented on her results, “We’ve tried numerous combinations with radiotherapy – triple therapy, different targeted strategies – and still we cannot eradicate the tumors. Tregs are immunosuppressant cells that put the brakes on the effector t cells. But Tregs also stop T cells from doing their job of killing the cancer cell. If you go at it just by taking away Tregs, there are no effector T cells. You need something to inflame the environment, something to excite T effector cells, and in this case that was the role of radiation.