Funded by Cancer Research UK, findings reported by researchers at Queen Mary University of London found that skin cancer releases molecules that 'reprogram' healthy immune cells to help the skin cancer spread.
The researchers began looking at the high levels of a protein called Myosin II produced by cells on the edges of invasive melanoma in mice and human tumor samples.
The Myosin II caused chemicals to be released that affected the macrophages of the immune system, so instead of the macrophages fighting cancer, they helped the cancer survive.
Some of the chemicals made holes in the blood vessels allowing the cancer cells to access the bloodstream to spread to other parts of the body.
One of the chemicals released is Interleukin 1A, which makes cancer cells more invasive.
The researchers are hoping that blocking Myosin II may be combined with other treatments to reduce skin cancer spread.