Lausanne, Switzerland: A new study has shed light on why pregnant women with cancer face an increased risk of their tumors metastasizing.
The study found that during pregnancy , a decline in the number of natural killer cells that are a type of immune system cell, ripens conditions in the body for existing tumors to spread to new locations, reports Live Science.
"Our work provides evidence that innate immunity plays a major role in protecting tissues against metastatic tumor growth," said study researcher Ivan Stamenkovic, director of the Department of Experimental Pathology at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland .
Stamenkovic and his colleagues found pregnant mice had fewer natural killers than other mice, and the natural killer cells they had were less effective at doing their job.
Further, the scientists found that what`s keeping the natural killers from doing their job are other cells called myeloid-derived suppressor cells.
Therefore, a treatment that blocks the activity of these cells could boost the immune system and make the body more resistant to metastasis, noted Stamenkovic.
The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation , June 6.