South Korean scientists have discovered for the first time how cancer cells grow and spread in lymph nodes. 

Doctor Koh Gou-young of the Institute for Basic Science led the team that discovered that cancer cells spreading in lymph nodes boost the expression of genes related to fatty acids to produce energy. In previous studies, the established theory had been that glucose, and not fatty acids, was the key energy source of most cancer cells. 

Lymph nodes are tiny structures that contain immune cells such as lymph and white blood cells to fight harmful substances, including cancer. 

Doctors determine how long a cancer patient has to live and what kind of treatment should be administered by how far cancer cells have spread in lymph nodes. So far, though, no study has found how the cancer cells in lymph nodes grow and spread. 

The study results were posted in the latest online edition of the international journal Science on Friday.

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