Cancer is a natural function
The treatment and attitude toward cancer in our society is a sad story.
I realise it is completely understandable that doctors and families of cancer patients will promote aggressive drug treatment and radiotherapy.
Our attitude may change, however, if cancer were to be viewed not as a disease, but as a natural function of all cell-based life.
Cells have finite life spans
All cells have finite life spans.
They grow, live and die to a strict time-line and have a “killer” gene which switches them off at the right time.
Cancer cells, where the killer gene malfunctions, arise in every organism and are usually destroyed by the immune system.
Environmental degradation compromising our immune systems
But, largely due to our mismanagement, the environment is rapidly degrading.
This degradation amplifies the naturally occurring carcinogens such as viruses, atmospheric particles, radiation, tobacco, asbestos, a wide range of chemicals and probably many unknown factors. What then happens is that our immune systems fail and cancers arise.
Cancer is a natural consequence of aging and aging cells are more likely to mal-function. Of course, cancer can strike at any age which only illustrates the complexity and randomness of this life function.
I repeat: cancer is NOT a disease.
Yet we spend a fortune treating it like it is.
Disturbing information about new cancer drugs
Some recent information about the cost of new drugs to treat cancer is disturbing.
A drug used to treat leukaemia in the elderly has been approved at a cost of $5000 per month for each patient, because it has been shown to increase the median survival rate by 7 months compared to 5 months using placebo.
A drug used to treat metastatic colon cancer increased the median survival rate by 1.4 months, but cost $11,000 per month. This was actually greeted by a few howls of outrage and it was replaced by a drug only costing $6000 per month.
Our fear of death drives this drug insanity
While our society has such a fear of death and is driven by an insane desire to stay healthy forever, these absurdities will continue.
Even Australia’s one-time richest man, the late Kerry Packer, supplying himself with his very own MICA ambulance and seemingly having an inexhaustible supply of helicopter pilots willing to donate an organ or two, couldn’t bribe the Grim Reaper to look the other way.
Over-diagnosis another sorry cancer story
Another recent report concerns the dangers of over-diagnosis.
With constant screening for breast cancer, cervical cancer, prostate cancer, bowel cancer and other cancers of the month, more cancers are being detected.
On the surface, this is a good thing, the orthodoxy being early detection means early treatment and saved lives. Look beyond the “early-detection saves lives” orthodoxy, however, and you will discover that many of these cancers will not kill you in the first place.
So many, in fact, that oncologists call them “incidental-omas”.
It has been estimated that for every woman who doesn’t die of breast cancer because of screening, three are over-diagnosed and subsequently over-treated with the usual distressing side-effects of chemotherapy.