"The Lance Armstrong Effect"

Heating cancer cells may make them more responsive to treatment

(RxWiki News) Why do 70 out of a 100 men with testicular cancer beat the disease, while only 6 in 100 people with pancreatic cancer live five years after diagnosis? Researchers have a new theory that could impact how all cancers are treated.

What two scientists have dubbed the "Lance Armstong Effect" could turn out to be a way to annihilate cancer cells that have become resistant to traditional cancer treatments.

"Heating cancer cells may help them respond better to conventional treatments."

As the world knows, Lance Armstrong not only survived testicular cancer that had spread to his lungs and brain, but went on to ride into the cycling world record books.

Robert Getzenberg and Donald Coffey reckon that the environment in which testicular cancer cells grow is different from other tumor sites.

Because they are outside the body, the testicles are several degrees cooler than the rest of the body.

So when testicular cancer cells sprint to other areas such as the lungs or brain, the climate is warmer.

Getzenberg and Coffey theorize that the higher temperatures in these organs shock the cells, making them more responsive to cancer treatments - which in turn results in higher testicular cancer survival rates.

Thus, the "Lance Armstrong effect."

The researchers are currently working with nanoparticle therapies to test this theory by  heating other kinds of cancer cells to see if the effect crosses the finish line and is a true winner.

This research is published in American Chemical Society journal Molecular Pharmaceutics.

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Review Date: 
October 20, 2011
Last Updated:
October 21, 2012