Cephalopods and Cancer


O. vulgaris
Jul 13, 2004
Hi everybody,
I have read on the cephschool website (http://www.cephschool.utmb.edu) that cephalopods do not develop cancerous cells. I heard before that elasmobranchs seldom develop cancer but was surprised to know that it was also the case in cephalopods!
I have made a quick litterature search and don't seem to find any papers describing this. Does anybody have more information?


I've seen A. aculeatus (Abdopus aculeatus- formerly known as Octopus (Abdopus) aculeatus) in the wild with abnormal growths, but this was during a behavioral study, so I didn't kill and preserve them to see what type of growth they were. They seemed to be embedded in the muscle, and formed big round lumps (one in each animal) in the arm, mantle, and arm crown respectively. They were at sites with fairly clean water, although mercury pollution at one of the sites is debatable (gold mines nearby- trawling isn't the only evil out there). Three animals out of ~175.
Hey, I have only found the abstract of this paper...which would be interesting to read

Lee PG, Lu LJ, Salazar JJ, Holoubek V. 1994. Absence of formation of benzo[a]pyrene/DNA adducts in the cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis, Mollusca: Cephalopoda).Environ Mol Mutagen. 23(1):70-3.

Benzo[a]pyrene (B[a]P) injected intramuscularly into the base of the arms of cuttlefish was released continuously from the injection site and removed from the organism. Only a portion of the compound accumulated in the body. Twenty-four hr after its injection, 75% of B[a]P applied in olive oil was removed from the cuttlefish, and 1.2% was found in the body outside the head, the site of injection. If the carcinogen was dissolved in dimethylformamide, the removal of B[a]P was slower, so that only 18% of the injected B[a]P was removed from the organism and 0.36% accumulated in the body outside the head 24 hr after injection. The high level of B[a]P in gills and hemolymph 4 hr after injection and the kinetics of the decrease of its concentration with time indicate that these two organs could be involved in the excretion of B[a]P from the body. The B[a]P/DNA adducts characteristic for vertebrates could not be demonstrated in gills, skin, brain, hepatopancreas, and lymphocytes of the cuttlefish 24 hr after injection of B[a]P. The dose of the carcinogen injected into the cuttlefish was 2-4 times higher than the dose resulting in the formation of a high level of B[a]P/DNA adducts in the vertebrates. A different metabolism of B[a]P in the tissue of cephalopods, compared to vertebrates, could be less favorable to the process leading to malignant transformation and could explain the absence from the literature of reports of tumors in cephalopods.

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