Cancer – Solid Tumour
Tumours are any abnormal growth of cells, which can be benign (harmless) or malignant (cancerous). There are many different forms of cancerous tumours and they can grow in many different tissues in the body – the name they are given depends on where they are found: for example, carcinomas are found in the skin in the lining of internal organs; sarcomas can be found in bone and cartilage, fat, muscle, blood vessels or connective tissue; lymphomas develop in the immune system. If solid tumours are benign and localized, they can generally be removed and pose no long-term threat. However, solid tumours that have acquired aggressive properties are able to spread (metastasize) via the blood or lymphatic (immune) systems to another part of the body. Once cancers metastasize the prognosis for the patient becomes poor, but why some tumours metastasize and others do not is still a mystery.
Hematopoietic stem cell transplants (from bone marrow and umbilical cord blood) have approval from Health Canada and the U.S. FDA Administration to help treat some patients with solid tumours. But not all tumours can be treated this way and researchers are using stem cells in the lab to study the underlying cause of cancer (which may originate in the stem cells themselves) and to quickly and safely test drugs that might help curb the spread of the disease.