Angiogenesis is a process by which new blood vessels are formed. Some cancerous tumors are efficient at creating new blood vessels, which increases blood supply to the tumor and allows it to grow. Doctors and scientists are seeking ways to inhibit angiogenesis and short-circuit cancer development.
Cancer cells initiate angiogenesis by sending signals to nearby tissue and activating proteins that foster blood vessel growth. As researchers gain an understanding of this process, they hope to discover new methods to block those signals before tumors take root. Blood vessels feed tumors the nutrients and oxygen they require to thrive and spread, so researchers also are investigating whether a tumor’s established blood vessel network can be made to fight the cancer.