A blood test for cancer; is the early detection of a cancer good enough without a cure?
Medical Daily recently reported that scientists are working on a test that may help us diagnose most types of cancer earlier than ever before. For those of us who are cancer phobic, it can be a blessing or a curse. For those of us who are more even tempered, it can allow us to act on disease processes that kills hundreds of thousands of people yearly.
The good news is that scientists are likely realizing that their is a commonality to most cancers that allows a test like this to work. Apparently, bio markers found in the blood can help us find out if tumors are in their early stages and where.
Apparently, they have developed a database of bio markers that are common to different tumors. The test can potentially find these bio markers and depending on the type, also help scientists determine where and which organ the cancer is originating from.
From an oncologists point of view, this can be a game changer, since their job may become less invasive from a testing perspective with perhaps fewer biopsies. You can read more about this here.
The problem is, diagnosis without an actual cure is half the job. As we have already found out, many of the screens we have been using for early detection either led to invasive diagnostic procedures and treatments to tumors that were not actually problem, causing problems for those who experienced them. This is why many of the screens for breast and prostate have been reevaluated and are now being recommended less frequently or eliminated entirely. They were based on the idea of early diagnosis, yet many of these people who found a tumor were treated for problems that were not problems at all, while others who found tumors even with early diagnosis did not survive.
While many of us are bombarded with advertising that tells us that centers such as Sloan Kettering or other cancer centers have the best care, they do not advertise their cure rates which are not great. Oncologists would love to have a better tool than just chemo and radiation, no matter how accurate you pinpoint the problem. The problem is that maybe 25% of those who are diagnosed are actually cured, and if they are, they need to be constantly monitored to make sure the cancer did not return.
The good news is that there are a number of bio techs developing treatments using our own genetics to cure tumors, however the treatments are not yet perfected, have a large amount of side effects and are very expensive when they come to market. The problem is, when you show the body where the tumor is and use the body to fight it, it can shrink and eradicate a tumor, but will it attack our other healthy organs too? The idea is sound in that with metastasis, the body will search out those tumor and cancer cells as well. A cure is what happens when the tumors are gone, and we do not have to be constantly monitored and testing. A treatment is what happens when we find a tumor, and throw a treatment at it that may help, which is not the same thing.
Skin cancers are on the rise as well. We may be paying for the sins of yesteryear or perhaps, there is something we again do not understand, yet we treat it be excision and other methods.
What if all cancers have a common denominator? The current business model is to treat, not cure. According to German Medical Literature, most cancers are viruses that cause tumors. Do drug companies look at this to cure, or is it more profitable to treat? Last year, Cuba had apparently found a cure for a type of lung cancer, and the cost was about $4 dollars a dose. The “cure” is being given a trial in NYC right now but it shows that innovations and cures are possible, with the right motivation and approach to research. We will soon find out about their approach.
Amazon was a game changer for retail. A cure is a game changer for cancer, with large winners and losers. The winners are the population. The losers will be those who have profited from treatments and surgeries to excise cancers what are still poorly understood as to why they occur. Find the common denominator, find the cure; then, and only then can early intervention be truly meaningful in the prevention of cancer.