Life is tough when you are a fast growing-cancer, because your host has difficulty meeting your increasing needs for oxygen. You can cope by stimulating your host to grow more blood vessels to carry oxygen to you or by metastastising your cells to oxygen sources elsewhere in the body. But some hypoxic cancers have an even more impressive trick up their sleeve when they can’t enough oxygen: They switch their energy supply over to glycolosis (The breaking down of glucose).
The advantage of glycolosis to otherwise suffocating cancer cells is that oxygen is no longer needed. The disadvantage is that clever researchers can fix your location by looking at sugar absorption rates within your host’s body.
Dr. Kristin Sainani relates the fascinating science of hypoxic cancer cells in this month’s Stanford Magazine.