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Cancer Treatment Effects at the Cellular Level

By Lisa Schulmeister, MN, RN, ACNS-BC, FAAN
Cancer survivors may experience post-treatment effects, including frailty, cardiac dysfunction, osteoporosis, pulmonary fibrosis, hormone disruption, and secondary cancers. It’s unknown how or why these effects occur at the cellular level.

To learn more about the cellular biology of aging and the effects of cancer treatment on aging, researchers from Mayo Clinic, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and City of Hope Medical Center conducted a comprehensive literature search.

The researchers noted that cancer treatment is associated with accelerated aging. They theorize that multiple pathways contribute to it, as well as the development of late complications among cancer survivors.

Several chemotherapeutic agents are associated with the pathogenesis of senescence and acquired telomeropathies, which culminate in morbidity and mortality due to frailty phenotypes and aging-associated diseases. Additionally, the researchers wrote that few studies evaluate aging parameters (telomeres, p16INK4a+ senescent cells, miRNA, methylomes) in the context of clinical outcomes.

They recommend additional research to explore the mechanisms of accelerated aging-like phenotypes among cancer survivors with a goal of using this information to prevent or mitigate late complications of cancer treatment.
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