In The Genes?

When it comes to tumors (i.e. cancer), size doesn’t matter that much. It’s more about genetics. In a New Yorker article, The Picture Problem, Malcolm Gladwell interviewed several experts about the pros and cons of our current approach to early detection.

The danger posed by a tumor is expressed visually. Large is bad; small is better—less likely to have metastasized. But here, too, tumors defy visual intuitions. According to Donald Berry of the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, “we don’t know whether it’s tumor size that drives the metastatic process or whether all you need is a few million cells to start sloughing off to other parts of the body.”

… scientists discovered that even with tumors in the one-centimeter range…the fate of the cancer seems already to have been set.

However, while genes may be the starting point for cancer, they don’t necessarily have the last word! Listen to what Dr. Servan-Schreiber, a cancer survivor himself, says:

All research on cancer concurs. Genetic factors contribute to at most 15 percent of mortalities from cancer. In short. There is no genetic fatality. We can all learn to protect ourselves.

It must be stated at the outset that to date there is no alternative approach to cancer that can cure the illness. It is completely unreasonable to try to cure cancer without the best of conventional Western medicine: surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, immunotherapy, and soon, molecular genetics.

At the same time, it is completely unreasonable to rely only on this purely technical approach and neglect the natural capacity of our bodies to protect against tumors. We can take advantage of this natural protection to either prevent the disease or enhance the benefits of treatment.

People with cancer should not be fatalistic but realistic. In my third year with the disease, my survival strategy is threefold:

  • advanced medical treatment,
  • aggressive natural protection,
  • all the prayer I can get from people like you. Thanks.

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