WWB WATCH: Trending in Cancer Treatments–Immunotherapy and More Drugs
The NYT Health section posted an article yesterday entitled “Breaking Through Cancer’s Shield” which I will share right here http://nyti.ms/19JkrGK. It’s about a new area of cancer treatment called “Immunotherapy”. (click this link and scroll all the way down and notice sadly a small paragraph dedicated to natural immune therapy). What I found extremely interesting and alarming about this article is this statement: “Researchers think they are seeing the start of a new era in cancer medicine”. Here are a few more direct quotes from the specialist and researchers in this article below.
For patients battling cancer this exciting news is filled with hope and promise. For many of us it represents a better option than the powerful killer therapies like chemo and radiation. For the medical community it represents a “game changer” and dare I say more profits. A win for “big pharma” because immunotherapy is yet another group of “drugs” simply encouraging the immune system to do what it is meant to do–and that is to fight off an attack.
When reading the NYT article, what came to my mind was a Pulitzer Prize winning book I read called “The Emperor of All Maladies” by Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee (a World Wise Beauty recommended read). The book can be described as an authoritative history of cancer but I liked how the Publisher candidly presents the book “It is really a story of human ingenuity, resilience and perseverance but ALSO of hubris, paternalism and mis-perception”.
Dr. Mukherjee himself observed ” to keep pace with this malady; you need to keep inventing and reinventing, learning and UNLEARNING strategies.” His book ends with humble and what sometimes sounds like defeatist thoughts such as “Cancer is the new normal and the question will not be if we encounter the immortal illness in our lives but when.”. I could write a whole other post about this conclusion and it makes me furious not at this particular doctor but at our society at large because we keep throwing money at cancer treatment research but very little funds at understanding why cancer cases are increasing. To quote the doctor from the book again “We are inherently destined to slouch towards a malignant end. Indeed as the fraction of those affected by cancer creeps in inexorably in SOME NATIONS (America for sure) from one in four, to one in three, to one in two cancer will become the new normal.“
Given everything this doctor has encountered with cancer (especially here in the U.S) this might be his personal perspective. But it’s his narrow view simply because he is only looking at the treatment of cancer and not what might be done to research the prevention of cancer and learn more about why cancer is proliferating. What about investigating the ramifications of the chemical onslaught ( in our bodies, on our bodies, in the air we breathe) we are enduring and tolerating in the name of industry?
There are so many areas we can be researching and practices we could be UNLEARNING but this post is not my rant. This post is meant to highlight how trends pick up momentum and how “industry” keeps spinning the cogs in the wheel. After you read the WWB recommended book “Emperor of All Maladies” you can’t help but think ” we are fumbling in the dark when it comes to “treatment” and that the wisdom and expertise “of the day” is often one powerful school of thought controlling the options you have in the time and prevailing culture you are living in. Just only two decades ago women allowed doctors to do complete mastectomies and remove their breasts at very early stages of cancer. If you think this is barbaric go travel back to the turn of the century with Dr. Mukherjee and see what the prevailing treatment was back then! Gory details can be found in the book…
More recently in the last decade breast cancer prevention has been about treating abnormal findings on a scan, calling it Stage Zero or DCIS as if it is real cancer and treating it with lumpectomies and chemo/radiation treatments. To me this approach is even more barbaric because we are treating “the potential” of cancer occurring. As we head into 2014, scientist and our medical community are now questioning this early over-reactive treatment approach. But how many women went through unnecessary treatments in this last decade because powerful industries pushed through their agenda in the name of preventing breast cancer? Pink power indeed…
World Wise Beauty is dedicated to exploring ideals for wellness culture and the point of the Trendscapes department is to pay attention, learn more and then WATCH. Trends are not always good and not necessarily bad but thinking with a strong objective mind and figuring out what is best for you is challenging especially when the prevailing culture says “this is your only choice” and “everyone is doing it.”
No doubt there are wonderful doctors and researchers out there who earnestly believe they are fighting cancer and coming up with solutions. This is what we humans do and often we do good! But today you have a powerful layer of business industry creating the agenda and influencing where research dollars go because that’s what “industry” does. They control markets and profit. Thankfully there are new organizations like Beyond the Pink and LessCancer.org who are working hard to keep “prevention” on the forefront of the cancer conversation and have gained the attention of lawmakers, scientist and educators. Another thought provoking book to add to your reading list is “A World Without Cancer” The Making of a New Cure and the Real Promise of Prevention” by Margaret I. Cuomo, MD. It took courage to write a book like this and for Dr. Cuomo to step back from her own peers and challenge the status quo. Stay informed…
Is Immunotherapy an exciting development in the battle against cancer? For some maybe–but it’s also scary when they are calling it a “game changer”. I see yet another “camp of pharma companies ” now deciding what is going to make us better and it will use all it’s power and might to CONTROL OUR OPTIONS. As you will learn from reading the book about the history of cancer–doctors, surgeons, researchers, and scientist are HUMAN and with that comes many “false notions”. Dr. Cuomo author of the second book featured, is a living example of this and her candid story and personal learning experience as a diagnostic radiologist is important for us to hear…
It seems once we humans all sign on to an “idea” ( with limited data behind it) and consider it “the game changer” we can’t seem to help ourselves from myopically focusing on the success of the idea. So we keep at it like a “horse with blinders on” and when treating patients this means we can recklessly kill a lot of people in the name of success. Wish I could be happier about the latest research but I personally think we are throwing millions of dollars to pharma researchers to “maybe” extend a few lives but in the meantime we are becoming a sicker society and we’re dropping off like flies.
As always be your own guru and consider the best OPTIONS for you. Just make sure you always have options.