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The air we all breathe contains oxygen, which is essential for life. Each of the tiny cells that make up our bodies needs oxygen, although they need different amounts. Whenever a cell does not receive enough oxygen, it is said to be hypoxic, which means “low oxygen”. Normally, if a cell is very hypoxic it stops working and eventually dies. As we age, things can go wrong in our bodies and tumors can develop. The cancer cells inside the tumor can experience hypoxia. Unlike normal cells, cancer cells can adapt to living in hypoxic conditions and survive instead of dying. Hypoxic cancer cells are very difficult to kill using the standard therapies given to cancer patients, so the degree of hypoxia is in a tumor can determine whether the cancer can be cured. We understand how hypoxia makes cancer worse, but we are still working on ways to get rid of hypoxic cancer cells.

Original publication




Journal article


Frontiers for Young Minds


Frontiers Media SA

Publication Date