Computer Simulation of the Metastatic Progression and Treatment Interventions
Authors: Anja Bethge, Bertin Hoffmann, Udo Schumacher, Gero Wedemann
In Germany, cancer is the second most common cause of death. In 90% of these cases, death was contributed not by the primary tumor but the metastases. Despite intensive research in the last decades, many details of this process are still not understood. A computer model was developed that enables quantitative investigations of the metastatic progression. Different models of metastatic progression were compared with clinical and experimental data to gain new insights. The computer model is based on a discrete event simulation. Analytical functions describe the growth of the primary tumor and the metastases. Intravasation event models the invasion of cancer cells from the primary tumor into the bloodstream. Further events simulate the behavior of this cell until it either dies or founds a new metastasis. Clinical and experimental was analyzed to investigate, whether metastases spread early or late in the course of the disease, if metastases themselves are also able to metastasize and the impact of the immune system on the process of metastasis. Furthermore, different therapies such as resection of the primary tumor, chemotherapy or radiotherapy and its impact on the number of metastases and the tumor burden were simulated.