In the first of this series we explained how the ‘neighbourhood’, or microenvironment, around a cancer affects how it grows and spreads.
In this next post we’re taking a look at how blood vessels grow into, and feed, a tumour.
As we’ve said before, a tumour can be thought of as a ‘rogue organ’ in the body – not one that is useful to us, but one that has the same requirements as any other. This includes a network of blood vessels (vasculature), supplying the cancer cells with oxygen and nutrients, and removing waste products. And, in the case of cancer, enabling it to survive, grow, and spread around the body.
But while the blood supply feeding our healthy tissues grows as we develop in the womb, a tumour has to ‘plumb in’ its own blood supply from nearby blood vessels – a process known as angiogenesis.
And because angiogenesis is so fundamental to how cancers grow and spread, it’s an exciting focus for cancer researchers all over the world.