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What is the Stroma?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 26 August 2016
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The stroma is the framework that supports an internal organ. In most cases, this type of support network is made up of connective tissue that helps to hold the organ in position, as well as providing a degree of protection. While closely associated with the organ, the stroma is not the same as the parenchyma, which is made up of the main functional elements of the organ proper.

The main function of the stroma is to act as the support and connecting network for cells and the organs composed of those cells. While not actually adding to the function of the organ, the supporting tissue does in fact help to make it easier for the organ to function at peak efficiency. This is because the stroma holds the organ in place, alleviating stress that would inhibit the function of the organ if the supporting framework were not in place.

Many different forms of organs and animal tissue rely on this type of framework. Both the iris and the cornea of the eye are supported with stroma. In females, the ovaries are kept in place and protected to some degree by the surrounding support framework. In like manner, the thyroid gland is supported by the presence of the network of connective tissue. There is even stroma involved with the protection and maintenance of bone marrow.

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As with any type of tissue, this connective network can become infected with abnormal cells. When this happens, stroma cells can develop into a tumor. As with all tumors, the abnormal stroma cells can develop into a benign mass that may disappear over time, or require surgery to remove. Those same abnormal cells may develop into a malignant tumor that could metastasize and threaten the organs supported by the infected framework. When this is the case, surgery is often required to remove the malignancy before it can begin to spread to surrounding organs and tissue.

Just like any of the tissues found in the body, it is possible to place stress on the stroma and cause the framework to weaken. Any infection or virus that interferes with the normal process of cell repair and replacement can have an adverse effect on the supporting tissue network, and place the organs supported in a state of danger. Fortunately, modern medical technology is capable of identifying situations where the connecting tissue surrounding an organ has weakened considerably, and take appropriate measures to treat the health issue before any permanent damage can take place.

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SkyWhisperer
Post 2

@hamje32 - That’s an excellent question. While I am not a doctor, I don’t believe that there are any good tumours, regardless of where they are grown.

I assume that a tumour grown in the stroma would be surrounded by (and supported by) that connective tissue, and so yes, I guess it would be a challenge. That’s my non-scientific opinion.

I do know that when tumours grow in the body, their precise location does have an impact on the nature of the prognosis when a doctor determines how easy it would be to remove.

Regardless of the challenges posed by a tumour in the stroma region, I still believe you’d be worse off with a tumour in the organ itself.

hamje32
Post 1

Since the stroma basically acts as a canopy that holds organs in place, what effect does this have on a stroma tumor – one that grows in the stroma itself, not the organ?

Does the stroma hold the tumors in place, basically making them even more difficult to remove? I wonder if a tumor grown in the organ proper would be easier to remove than a tumor grown in the stroma.

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