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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Cancer

So I've been thinking a lot about Cancer. THE disease. The more I learn the more I realize how interesting it is to have a disease on our hands that is bound to become the #1 killer in our nation. It is second now only to Cardiovascular diseases. The rates of cancer have increased dramatically over the last decade. No doubt the reasons behind this prevalence rate is two-fold
1. We are living longer and therefore it gives the cells a larger window for a mistake. Not to mention our cellular machinery is somewhat run down in old age less likely to catch a mistake, halt a cell cycle into G2, or prevent abnormal cell replication.
2. The amount of chemicals, radiation, and toxins that are now in our environment. Not only are they are increasing but we are exposed to them longer.
Enough about these causes, because we are clearly stuck with them, we aren't going to die younger to prevent cancer, and we certainly aren't going to stop using microwaves, getting X-rays, talking on cell phones etc...anytime soon.

The interesting thing about cancer is that it is our own body attacking us. Its almost like an autoimmune disease of the cells. The trick is to kill the cancer without killing the person. What substance, chemical, therapy , treatment can we administer that will only "detonate" upon the abnormal cancer cell. And what defines an abnormal cancer cell from a normal cancer cell. Aren't they one and the same except that one is more desperate for survival, bent on reproducing itself magnificently, veracious for blood nutrients and any other substances that will proliferate its growth? In a sense isn't a cancer cell just a better adapted normal cell?

So how do we define this cell, what is a recognizable marker, or tag that differentiates a cancer cell from a normal cell. And how can we target this difference enough to exploit it. Shouldn't a huge portion of our anti-cancer efforts be focused on developing these exact differences, so that we can kill the disease without killing the individual.

I think we will look back on radiation and chemotherapy as an extremely primitive method of treating patients. Analogous to lobotomies in the early 20th century or curing the plague with purging the blood of the patients. Sure you might get some effect, but look what are you doing to the healthy parts of the body. It is pure hit or miss, a game of can we kill the cancer cell before we destroy what life is left. How...1900's.

Targeted Therapy to me is the clear direction of cancer advancement. Sure they have lots of things in the works, but none of these has been a major breakthrough or it would be provided to dying cancer patients throughout the country right now. A tidal wave of heroic therapy to be mass produced and given to patients as quickly as possible. This clearly has not arrived. I am not saying there is a magical bullet we haven't discovered yet, just that there must be a better way of attacking cancer out there.

The first cancer therapy started with the discovery of anti-folates, folic acid which facilitates normal cell growth does the same for cancer cells. So if you stop the production of folic acid, boom,  you stop the growth of cancer cells as well. Metabolic rates, cell turnover, anything that helps a healthy body grow and thrive will do the same for cancer! But, its clear you can't starve the patient. Kill the darker evil and bring the patient back from the bring of death. So from a preliminary thought process I see two possible solutions.
1. Find a therapy targeted enough to seek know the difference between a normal and cancerous cell, bind and attack. This hinges on scientists and researchers being able to recognize these subtle yet possibly life-saving discrepancies between the two.
2. Preventative medicine in which we find a way to bolster the natural cell protection process cycle and halt cell production.

-What if in a 100 years we look back on cancer research as a huge oversight. How could we have possible thought that black bile inside a person was possible for depression. Clearly its an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain...
-How could we have thought that diseases were once caused by the "gods"  in the sky back in Socrates's era
It is the essence of science to make mistakes. Big ones. But, if we have historically and up to this day continue to make these monumental mis-calculations what is stopping us from making one now, with cancer.
One thing is sure--if we have not found a cure or even progressive therapeutic solutions to cancer in over 20 years, we are not operating with the correct paradigm. We are not thinking outside the box. We have the wrong classifications , and most likely incorrect assumptions upon which we are basing all of our theories and hypothesis. Lets take a step back and remember when we thought that all psychological illnesses were a reaction to child trauma. Oh Freud, how far we have come. And Oh, cancer how far we must go.



1 comment:

  1. Question - please, I don't mean to be rude - you are clearly incredibly intelligent but you did not com across like that on The Hills. Was that intentional?

    ReplyDelete

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