Despite some of my numerous ramblings, the negative press, and anti-conventional therapy crusaders out there, there has been a tremendous amount of success made in the war against cancer over the last ten to twenty years. We know a tremendous amount more than we used to. We can prevent many cancers from occurring in the first place or delay their onset. We can remove surgically many cancers and we are identifying at earlier stages more and more cancers now than ever before. Newer technologies are also being introduced such as affordable bedside instrumentation that allows for instant or near instant cancer screening and better imaging instruments to help stage the cancer.
So, what seems to be the trouble? Why so much negativity surrounding modern cancer therapies and pessimism about where we are in the war against cancer.
There are several reasons as I have mentioned in various places in this blog before. The first one that is the least obvious for many people is the overly high optimistic attitude we had in the first place. A number of politicians and NIH directors in the past have commented that we would win the war on cancer in X number of years and thought that just like other diseases, it was only a matter of time (short time) that we understand cancer and cure it. Others have set such impossible timelines for the eradication of cancer, that we were doomed to fail. Still others felt that throwing enough money and brains behind the problems would inevitably lead to complete solutions. This was perhaps premature and we should have asked that there was restraint amongst those in power or in the press, to limit our expectations.
The second factor (relating to the first) is that cancer is not one thing. It is hundreds of different diseases some with extensive overlap and others with little. Thus, small defeats will take place for one cancer or another as we learn about it, but the war is not a singular event. Treatment for one cancer will NEVER work as treatments for them all…that is a fact that I think even doctors sometimes lose sight of. Companies producing anti cancer compounds will never find a magic bullet that will treat all cancers. All treatments, no matter how small, will have some limitations such as side effects or short acting efficacies or cost, etc. Finally, cancer is so much more complex that I think we ever imagined it would be. It seems like the only ones who realize this and say it are the scientists….not the folks selling anti cancer products. it should be made clear to everyone, how complex cancer is and how much we still don’t know. The same goes for AIDS which has undoubtedly taken so many of our resources (both financial and manpower) and yet we still have not found a cure for that single viral disease.
The last point is the most difficult of them all…us. We have not as a society and as individuals (in many cases) done the things we need to do to help keep cancer at bay. How many people do you know make sure they walk 10,000 steps a day? How many folks do you know that lead a healthy lifestyle low is processed foods, unbleached flours and sugars, and so on? How many people do you know that take the time to learn about cancer and cancer prevention? How about the millions who continue to smoke and drink in large amounts. By asking these questions, I am not advocating taking away personal choices (and I never would), but am offering a reason why cancer as a disease still ravishes us so much. Much of it has to do with us. Drugs and other people can not solve everything…we can and should take some charge over our own health.
So, just some words for thought today. I hope you enjoyed reading this. Please do let me know if you have your own ideas or you think I may be way off somehow and leave me a comment. As usual do visit the cancer made simple site for more information. Thanks
- Anti-Cancer Food – by gordon mustain (stevemacandyou.wordpress.com)
- Can anti-cancer medication help me live longer? (zocdoc.com)
- How effective are anti-cancer drugs? (zocdoc.com)
- Coffee: Anti-Cancer Drink Extraordinaire (connectwithwellness.wordpress.com)
- A Vaccine to Attack Cancer Early (technologyreview.com)