Botox may have cancer fighting role

Cancerous tumors can be sneaky little things. Tumors are born at the cellular level, when mutations cause healthy cells to turn into diseased ones that multiply out of control. Cancer cells grow and divide rapidly to form new tumor growths, which can invade nearby tissues and break off from a primary tumor to metastasize (spread) throughout the body.

This new “bad” tissue can put pressure on the surrounding healthy cells. It can cause an obstruction, or it can invade new areas and block or damage important structures like nerves, blood vessels, lymph nodes, ligaments, etc., which poses a threat to the patient’s health.

Treatments exist that attack tumors themselves; but sometimes, the damage that tumor growths cause–such as inflammation and pressure–is what kills people. The cancer itself might not be the thing doing the killing; it’s more often simply a side effect of cancerous tumors growing or metastasizing where they shouldn’t or obstructing important structures.

But what if there were a way to stop tumor growths from causing so much damage in the first place?

Enter botulinum toxin, or Botox. Researchers have found that injecting small amounts of Botox into tumors can actually stunt their growth and metastasis. This is not about killing cancer cells; this is more about halting their invasion and preventing dangerous obstructions.

Unfortunately, the researchers found that this treatment works best on tumor types (like pancreatic and lung cancers) that grow and spread quickly. And, of course, it doesn’t help people who have already developed cancerous tumors by the time they receive their injection. But anyone whose life is threatened by fast-growing tumors might soon benefit from a few injections of Botox.