buju
01 Jan 1970 |

CANCER

 

 

 

 

WHAT YOU KNOW ABOUT

CANCER

For the treatment of cancer in general, doctors use three methods to treat cancer:
surgery, followed by
A) Chemotherapy. ( treatment of disease with chemicals )
B) Radiotherapy.. ( treatment of disease with radiation )

When surgeons operate to remove a tumour they also release millions of cancer cells into the surrounding area and blood stream of the patient.

can3Most of these cancer cells do not usually survive, but thousands more embed itself into an organ such as the liver, lungs or brain where they can survive and start multiplying forming new tumours which become apparent in 5 or 10 years’ time.
A few years ago there was a case report of a female patient who underwent an abdominal exploratory operation and for one reason or another, the surgeons were unable to remove the tumour at the time but they made a biopsy ( biopsy examination of tissues removed from the body )

which confirmed cancer.

They operated on the patient 3 months later to remove the tumour. On opening the abdomen, however, they found hundreds of small tumour colonies growing all over the surface inside the abdomen. As there was nothing they could do they stitched her back up.

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This is the reason why following surgical removal of a malignant tumour doctors use chemotherapy to destroy the millions of tumour cells the doctors have liberated in the body and which can start multiplying forming new tumours.
Radiotherapy is also used for the same purpose; the difference is that chemotherapy applies, more or less, to the whole body, radiotherapy is usually directed at the tumour site especially if the margins of the tumour have not been removed completely, which sometimes happens.

can7Unfortunately some tumour cells become resistant to chemotherapy, in the same fashion that bacteria become resistant to antibiotics, and start multiplying forming new tumours called metastases. ( metastases, transmission of disease from an original site to one or more sites elsewhere in the body, as in tuberculossis or cancer. )

Cancer cells can detach themselves from the main tumour without the intervention of surgery and start forming metastases which will have to be surgically removed as well; this is the main reason why health professionals advocate early diagnosis. Early diagnosis also helps improve statistics, because if the average life-expectancy for a particular cancer is say five years, if for example, it is discovered a year earlier the patient appears to survive beyond the expected average survival of five years.

In general, every dose of chemotherapy kills 50 per cent of cancer cells circulating in the blood and lymphatic system at the time; it may therefore take years of chemotherapy treatment to kill the last surviving cancer cell.

can6Chemotherapy, by definition, kills fast growing cells in the body such as cancer cells. This is the reason why hair falls off following chemotherapy because the hair-root cells are among the fastest-growing cells in the body. Yet hair grows back. It is therefore plausible that some cancer cells may escape death and start multiplying again. Other fast-growing cells in the body are those lining the gut and the chemotherapy agents kill most of these as well. This is the reason for vomiting during chemotherapy.

Another group of fast-growing cells destroyed by chemotherapy are blood cells, especially those that are in the process of formation in the bone marrow. This results in immune system deficiencies and resultant infections which are difficult to treat. Furthermore many of these chemotherapy agents are themselves carcinogenic and this is the reason there are many reports in the scientific literature of different types of returning cancers after five or ten years following chemotherapy.

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There are a number of cancers in which the tumour is usually not disturbed by surgery: for example testicular cancer, where the testicle is usually removed without disturbing the tumour; this is the reason why this cancer is in the main curable, unless a biopsy has been carried out beforehand without due care as a number of studies have shown cases of cancer developing along the needle path following biopsy.
This usually happens when the pathology lab wrongly reports a benign tumour (not as active tumour), whereas in fact the tumour was malignant (very active tumour).
Radiation acts in a similar way to chemotherapy, killing some cancer cells, but not all of them. Of course increasing the dosage of chemotherapy or radiotherapy may kill the patient as well.

In the case of prostate cancer diagnosis is still rudimentary. After determining the PSA level in the blood, biopsies are performed to determine if there are tumours in the prostate. However the PSA level is not a very good indicator: two-thirds of all biopsies turn out afterwards to have been unnecessary. Biopsies also have disadvantages; for example they are not targeted, but instead tissue is sampled randomly using 6 to 12 needles. The chance that the needles will miss a tumour is high, causing a false negative result. In around one-third of cases with negative biopsies, tumours are later found to be present. Furthermore doctors often operate after a positive biopsy, but find a tumour so small that it would have been better not to operate.

The diagnosis of cancer is made by the pathologist following microscopic examination of the stained tissue removed following biopsy or surgery and it is obvious that some mistakes are made some of the time. A recent article in the New York Times by David Leonhardt entitled “Why Doctors So Often Get It Wrong” goes on to say that “Studies of autopsies have shown that doctors seriously misdiagnose fatal illnesses about 20 per cent of the time. Therefore millions of patients are being treated for the wrong disease. Under the current medical system, doctors, nurses, lab technicians and hospital executives are not actually paid to come up with the right diagnosis. They are paid to perform tests and to do surgery and to dispense drugs”. As mentioned, all these errors were verified following post-mortem examination.

can4It is obvious from the above study that up to one in five cancer patients may have been misdiagnosed and possibly never have had cancer in the first place, which means that all these patients fall into the statistics of “cured” after receiving chemotherapy and radiotherapy as well as surgery. Obviously it is very rare for the patient to be told that the tumour that has been removed was benign. Can one imagine the litigation and adverse publicity that would follow, especially if the patient had chemotherapy as well as radiotherapy.

This is the main reason why patients are asked to sign “informed consent” documents prior to treatment. But are there any unfair terms in these documents?

It is clear from the aforementioned that many cancer patients who claim they have been cured may never have had cancer in the first place.

There have of course been reports of cases of “cures” for childhood leukaemia. The reason for this is that children with cancer are treated with extremely high doses of chemotherapy drugs because children can cope with very high dosages which unfortunately do a lot of long term damage both mental and physical. If the equivalent doses are given to adults the patient would die very quickly.

Cancer and lifestyle

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RAWROO TS.