Controlling Cancer or Stable is Good
Although we all wish for scans or tests that show improvement or even elimination of cancer cells, we quickly learn that, in Cancer World, Stable is Good. Of course, it would be fabulous if a CT Scan showed that all those tumors in your lungs had vanished, but showing that they are just sitting there, causing no additional trouble, is good news, too. It does take an attitude adjustment to believe that, but it is true.
If a drug(s) can just hold things steady, we can be relieved and happy. This is a brief introduction to a semi-nerdy article from Time about the value of controlling cancer. Here is the start and a link to read more:
Controlling Cancer May Be Better Than Getting Rid of It Entirely:
Treating cancer is all about elimination — surgery, radiation and chemotherapy are all designed to get rid
of as many cancer cells as possible. But in a new study published in Science Translational Medicine,
cancer doctors provide some strong evidence for turning the all-or-nothing strategy on its head.
A team led by Dr. Robert Gatenby, chair of radiology and co-director of the cancer biology and evolution
program at Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute, say that the current approach of using
aggressive chemotherapy to try to eliminate every last cancer cell goes against basic evolutionary
principles — rules that even tumor cells follow. “We tend to think of cancers as a competition between the
tumor and the host, but at the level of the cancer cell, cancer cells are mostly competing with each other,”
MORE: The Kind of Cancer That May Not Need Chemo
That means cancer cells making up a tumor aren’t all equal. A tumor can consist of numerous different
types of malignant cells, and that’s supported by the fact that when they’re treated with something as
powerful as chemotherapy, some cells will wither and die while others, even weeks or months later, will
start to bloom again. Those are the cells that somehow, by a quirk of their mutations, happen to be
resistant to the chemotherapy.