New research findings by University College Dublin scientists published in the British Journal of Anaesthesia indicate that the type of anaesthetic used during surgery could affect the metastatic potential of cancer cells - that is their ability to spread to other parts of the body.
To conduct the research, the scientists took blood before and after surgery from breast cancer patients who had been given different types of anaesthetic and pain relief. Some of the women had used standard inhaled general anaesthetics with morphine based pain relief*(2), and others had been anaesthetised using regional (breast numbing) techniques with a single intravenous general anaesthetic called propofol to minimize morphine dosing*(3). In laboratory conditions, breast cancer cells were then exposed to these blood samples.
The scientists found that the blood from patients who had been given standard inhaled general anaesthetics with morphine pain relief reduced a process known as “apoptosis” whereby the body’s cells naturally die off. “Apoptosis” is crucial to preventing the metastatic spread of cancer. In contrast, cancer cells exposed to blood from patients who had been given regional anaesthesia and propofol showed a higher rate of apoptosis, or natural death of cancer cells.
Press release: http://bit.ly/1yi1UfC
Source: University College Dublin