In endometriosis the lesions form their own vasculature and compromise organs, arteries, and nerves. It can spread and embed throughout the body. It's difficult to treat as the adhesions resulting from repeated surgeries can cause the same symptoms as the lesions. Treatment often leaves patients with the original level of disability after the 2 year mark.
My question is, for these reasons could one treat and research endometriosis as if it were a form of cancer?
Could the immune system be utilized in treatment as the lesions induce high levels of certain cytokines?
Why or why not?
According to Endometriosis: benign, malignant, or something in between? (PubMed, 2017), endometriosis is not considered cancerous because:
- Does not appear as an expansille tumor mass
- Is not destructive
- The cells in the lesions are normal, like in the uteral endometrium
- Is not lethal
Immunotherapy of endometriosis is in the experimental phase - you can read more here: Novel Therapies Targeting Endometriosis (PubMed, 2011). Other treatments mentioned are anti-inflammatory drugs, selective estrogen or progesterone modulators, statins and antiangiogenic agents. There is also a study Open Label Immunotherapy of Endometriosis running - it is briefly described on ClinicalTrials.gov.
Chemotherapy, which is effective in some cancers, is based on killing quickly-dividing cells, but cells in endometriosis do not divide so quickly, so you can't treat it by chemotherapy in the same way.
It is important to note that cancer includes loss of the property of contact inhibition in cells. This leads to uncontrolled divisions in cancerous cells. Although endometriosis includes cells dividing at ectopic locations, they still possess the property of contact inhibition. So, endometriosis can't be called a form of cancer.
For information on Contact inhibition, visit the following link: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contact_inhibition