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Killing Cancer By Retraining the Patient's Immune System

Soulskill posted about 9 months ago | from the you-can-get-'im-rock dept.

Medicine 175

An anonymous reader writes "There's an interesting story on CNN about the University of Pennsylvania's human trial results on curing intractable cancer by retraining the patient's own immune system. Quoting: 'Nick Wilkins was diagnosed with leukemia when he was 4 years old, and when the cancer kept bouncing back, impervious to all the different treatments the doctors tried, his father sat him down for a talk. John Wilkins explained to Nick, who was by then 14, that doctors had tried chemotherapy, radiation, even a bone marrow transplant from his sister. ... A few months later, Nick traveled from his home in Virginia to Philadelphia to become a part of the experiment. This new therapy was decidedly different from the treatments he'd received before: Instead of attacking his cancer with poisons like chemotherapy and radiation, the Philadelphia doctors taught Nick's own immune cells to become more adept at killing the cancer. Two months later, he emerged cancer-free. It's been six months since Nick, now 15, received the personalized cell therapy, and doctors still can find no trace of leukemia in his system. ... Twenty-one other young people received the same treatment at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and 18 of them, like Nick, went into complete remission -- one of them has been disease-free for 20 months.'"

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How long were his previous remissions? (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45632209)

I think it is a bit premature to consider his cancer has been "killed" but good luck to him and good luck to the researchers with their Slashverisment.

Re:How long were his previous remissions? (5, Informative)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 9 months ago | (#45632305)

You're correct about the fact that the term "cancer-free" essentially means "we can't detect very small numbers of cells" in common-sense English, but the fact remains that this therapy (which isn't [slashdot.org] exactly [slashdot.org] news [slashdot.org] , BTW) leaves a large persistent population or cancer-killing modified leukocytes in a patient's body even after a period of over a year, and reappearance of large numbers of cancer cells simply doesn't seem likely under these circumstances.

Re:How long were his previous remissions? (4, Interesting)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 9 months ago | (#45633113)

Some people have an evolutionary resistance to cancer in the way their killer t-cells target it more aggressively. Others contract the HIV virus and never get AIDS, and there has been interesting speculation folks with these immunities may be descended from plague survivors from centuries ago. If this immunity can be taught to a cancer-ridden patient's own immune system, essentially someone with no other options, its side effects can then be carefully studied. I would look carefully at autoimmune disorders first.

Re:How long were his previous remissions? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45633341)

Do people with HIV virus remember their PIN number at the ATM machine?

Re:How long were his previous remissions? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45634043)

... and there has been interesting speculation folks with these immunities may be descended from plague survivors from centuries ago.

Aren't we all descended from plague survivors centuries ago?

Re:How long were his previous remissions? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45634099)

Aren't we all descended from plague survivors centuries ago?

Its a good question, but there is always a possibility that we are descended from people who did not get the disease, rather than those who survived an infection.

Re:How long were his previous remissions? (4, Insightful)

tibit (1762298) | about 9 months ago | (#45634419)

I would say this: as long as this therapy, even if it were to have serious side effects, simply lowers the mortality rate by, say, a factor of 2, it's a win. There is nothing else out there that, at the moment of introduction, would lower cancer mortality by such a factor, AFAIK. So far, presumably, most of the patients who received the therapy in this limited trial would have been dead by now. That's way, way over a 2x decrease in mortality. As far as I'm concerned, this is an unqualified success. Even if those patients turned into zombies 1 year from now, it'd still be a success, for crying out loud. There is nothing at this point in cancer therapy history that's this good, nor has there been anything that was that good on human subjects so quickly after the initial trials, IIRC. Feel free to correct me, of course.

Re:How long were his previous remissions? (4, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 9 months ago | (#45633235)

It's also worth noting (not that it means that kiddo is necessary not doomed; but just as a general thing) that culling abnormal cells is something that the immune system does quite regularly. It doesn't always do it well enough; which is when you get to have a chat with the oncologist, but this isn't some fundamentally artificial capability that fades as soon as treatment stops.

If he has a cancer cell population that punched through the various safeguards and reached clinically relevant levels once, his odds are probably worse; but holding the line against some modest population of dangerously aberrant cells isn't a terribly abnormal condition.

Obligatory (5, Funny)

ezdiy (2717051) | about 9 months ago | (#45632213)

AIDS [xkcd.com]

Re:Obligatory (3, Informative)

botnick (3457275) | about 9 months ago | (#45632895)

I knew this was familiar, here's a similar article in ny times from 2011. [nytimes.com] The therapy isn't quite risk free, in the linked article it says that a 39-old woman died when the retrained T-cells targeted a protein in her lungs; just 15 minutes after the injection and she developed breathing problems which I guess goes to show how potent destroyers T-cells can be.

Re:Obligatory (2)

tibit (1762298) | about 9 months ago | (#45634437)

Wait a minute, so there are two outcomes:

1. A reasonably quick death in few cases,
2. A semi-permanent cure in most cases.

If that's not a perfect cancer cure, I don't know what is. Either way you don't suffer much. That's like the win of all wins, given that many cancer patients typically go from Pre-Kindergarten all the way to a postdoc in suffering, last time I checked.

Cancer cured! (3, Insightful)

transporter_ii (986545) | about 9 months ago | (#45632219)

Cancer gets cured about once a decade, sometimes by real doctors, sometimes by "quacks." I could show stats from real doctors with similar results to this one, which never saw the light of day once it was discovered (or rediscovered).

People don't actually like creativity, even in medicine:

http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2013/12/creativity_is_rejected_teachers_and_bosses_don_t_value_out_of_the_box_thinking.html [slate.com]

Staw says most people are risk-averse. He refers to them as satisfiers. “As much as we celebrate independence in Western cultures, there is an awful lot of pressure to conform,” he says. Satisfiers avoid stirring things up, even if it means forsaking the truth or rejecting a good idea.

In medicine, innovative things happen all the time. When *you* go to the doctor, you get the same ol' thing that has been done since 1952.

Re:Cancer cured! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45632279)

Cancer gets cured about once a decade, sometimes by real doctors, sometimes by "quacks." I could show stats from real doctors with similar results to this one, which never saw the light of day once it was discovered (or rediscovered).

People don't actually like creativity, even in medicine:

http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2013/12/creativity_is_rejected_teachers_and_bosses_don_t_value_out_of_the_box_thinking.html [slate.com]

Staw says most people are risk-averse. He refers to them as satisfiers. “As much as we celebrate independence in Western cultures, there is an awful lot of pressure to conform,” he says. Satisfiers avoid stirring things up, even if it means forsaking the truth or rejecting a good idea.

In medicine, innovative things happen all the time. When *you* go to the doctor, you get the same ol' thing that has been done since 1952.

Let's not dance around the real reason shit hasn't changed since 1952.

Cures are not perpetually profitable. Only treatments are.

Cures are never welcome in the industry, and if you run across one, I promise you that no insurance company will ever cover it, leaving most with the only option of death, since they don't have $500,000+ lying around.

As far as how Obamacare will treat it, cures will be classified as first-degree felonies. You will abide by the party line and continue to obtain perpetual treatments so the vacuum can continue to suck the life out of you and your bank account, and keep you alive just long enough to empty both.

Laugh now. You'll be crying later.

Re:Cancer cured! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45632373)

You and Alex Jones are pals, I bet.

Re:Cancer cured! (4, Insightful)

camperdave (969942) | about 9 months ago | (#45632439)

Ridiculous. All one pharmaco has to do is say "We've got the cure!" and everyone will come to them, cash in hand. Perpetual treatments require two things that companies are not good at:
- giving up short term gains for long term gains.
- cooperating.

Re:Cancer cured! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45632583)

Ridiculous. All one pharmaco has to do is say "We've got the cure!" and everyone will come to them, cash in hand.

Really?

Excuse me while I don't hold my breath for federal approval on these trials that have been going on for years now.

And fat chance of your insurance provider covering it. That was my main point. Even if there are cures, few can ever afford them, which is the wrong way to go about providing a cure for the masses. What you want to casually call "everyone" with "cash in hand" is realistically the 1% in society who can fucking afford it.

One doesn't have to read between the lines too hard to understand why cures will not be covered either, which speaks to my other point about ensuring profits. They have investors and boards to answer to as well. Don't be blindly ignorant. It's a business, just like any other.

Re: Cancer cured! (4, Insightful)

JWW (79176) | about 9 months ago | (#45632625)

In the long run what will make the drug companies more money. Drugs that treat the patient for a few months and then they die, or a working treatment that the patient has to receive over their entire (longer now) life?

A cure for cancer would be a gold mine for a pharmaceutical company.

Re: Cancer cured! (3, Informative)

segedunum (883035) | about 9 months ago | (#45632817)

Drugs that treat the patient for a few months and then they die, or a working treatment that the patient has to receive over their entire (longer now) life?

A cure for cancer would be a gold mine for a pharmaceutical company.

That is not a cure.

Re: Cancer cured! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45633109)

Excuse me, but if researchers find a way to transform cancer from near-death sentence into a condition that people and their doctors can manage for decades, much as they do many other medical conditions today, then that's close enough to a "cure" as any of us could reasonably hope for. Or is that too difficult a concept for the average person on this myopia-infested site to handle?

I lost both of my parents to cancer, my father when I was 12 and my mother when I was 22, plus other loved ones. I cannot put into words how much I would love to see cancer downgraded from threat to annoying, long-term condition like this.

Cure vs. life support (2)

tepples (727027) | about 9 months ago | (#45633913)

if researchers find a way to transform cancer from near-death sentence into a condition that people and their doctors can manage for decades, much as they do many other medical conditions today, then that's close enough to a "cure" as any of us could reasonably hope for. Or is that too difficult a concept for the average person on this myopia-infested site to handle?

The difference is that a treatment with ongoing costs is more like life support than like a cure. Insulin is not a "cure" for diabetes mellitus caused by pancreatic failure (type I). Nor is metformin a "cure" for diabetes mellitus caused by insulin resistance (type II). But I still agree with you that an upgrade from a horrible disease to a condition managed through life support is worthwhile.

Re: Cancer cured! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45634227)

That's the funny thing about this article- doctors have essentially already done this for leukemia. I believe current survival rates are like 95% even without this "innovation."

Re: Cancer cured! (1)

nospam007 (722110) | about 9 months ago | (#45633491)

"A cure for cancer would be a gold mine for a pharmaceutical company."

You mean 4327 cures for 4327 types of cancers would.

But a cheap vaccine preventing any cancer would not.

Makes the patient a user of other drugs (2)

tepples (727027) | about 9 months ago | (#45633921)

A cure for cancer would make the patient a potential user of more drugs for conditions acquired later in life, such as drugs to control erectile dysfunction, drugs to increase bone density, drugs to control autoimmune arthritis, etc.

Re: Cancer cured! (1)

Gr8Apes (679165) | about 9 months ago | (#45634079)

But a cheap vaccine preventing any cancer would not.

It wouldn't be cheap for the first 17-20 years....

Re: Cancer cured! (1)

Beeftopia (1846720) | about 9 months ago | (#45634385)

In the long run what will make the drug companies more money.

The companies are merely vehicles for the people leading them. A cancer cure would make them wealthy beyond avarice, and allow those people a generational legacy. A cure would yield an immediate massive profit for the corporate leaders than would suppressing it.

It may destroy the company (exceedingly unlikely) but if destroying the company yielded a massive short term profit, lifting the company officers into the ranks of the ultra wealthy, the company would be beached on the rocks without a blink. The company is just a logical construct, a vehicle used to enrich the officers. Look at the financial sector. Wreckage of companies but massively enriched executives. Google Joseph Cassano and AIG to see an example. [cbsnews.com]

Re:Cancer cured! (5, Informative)

sandytaru (1158959) | about 9 months ago | (#45632727)

Oh, your insurance company will cover it if it's a genuine cure. A lifetime of leukemia treatments sets them back a cool million bucks. Half of that to make you healthy so they never have to pay another cent except for checkups? They'll jump right on top of it.

Don't forget that insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies are at odds with each other. Pharma makes their money charging people as much as they can for stuff. Insurance companies make their money paying out as little of that as they can, so they'll negotiate with the pharm company to pay less than retail (often much less.)

What insurance companies won't pay for is "experimental" treatments - stuff that is still in Phase I-IV human trials - because they're not proven to work and are as liable to permanently injure you as they are to cure you. Or have no effect at all in the long run.

vote GOP and that will happen inless you are in (0)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 9 months ago | (#45632871)

But if you go to prison and or jail then you get healthcare.

Re:vote GOP and that will happen inless you are in (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45633843)

Trust me, you don't want the health care you get in jail or prison, where the goal is to keep you alive long enough to serve your sentence. At least that's been my experience. Unless maybe it's Club Fed you're thinking of.

Re:Cancer cured! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45633771)

Don't forget that insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies are at odds with each other.

Only superficial. The insurance companies are not really interested in lowering the health care costs. Let's say the insurance companies get a 5% margin on the total health care costs. The lower this number the less money they make.

So insurance and pharmaceutical companies are both interested in bigger health care expenditure. They only really fight over who gets the bigger slice of the pie.

Re:Cancer cured! (1)

Gr8Apes (679165) | about 9 months ago | (#45634097)

Don't forget that insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies are at odds with each other.

Wrong - insurance companies make a percentage, so the more things cost, the more they get.

Re:Cancer cured! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45632735)

When your life is on the line, it is amazing what you can afford.

Unlike copyrights, patents expire. (2)

tepples (727027) | about 9 months ago | (#45633927)

Even if there are cures, few can ever afford them

The next generation can more easily afford the generic knockoff of the cure once the patent has expired.

Re:Cancer cured! (2)

segedunum (883035) | about 9 months ago | (#45632915)

You're confusing a cure with paying a company to keep you alive for the rest of your life.

Re:Cancer cured! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45633847)

You're confusing a cure with paying a company to keep you alive for the rest of your life.

You're confusing eating with paying supermarkets and restaurants to feed you for the rest of your life.

Re:Cancer cured! (1)

geekmux (1040042) | about 9 months ago | (#45634001)

You're confusing a cure with paying a company to keep you alive for the rest of your life.

You're confusing eating with paying supermarkets and restaurants to feed you for the rest of your life.

And you're comparing the act of eating (a know biological necessity for the human body) to a company hell-bent on securing profits to the point of restricting/banning/patenting//lobbying to ensure their profits remain perpetual through treatments and half-cures.

One cannot argue we must eat to survive, and no one is spending hundreds of billions trying to find a cure for not eating.

Stupid analogy is stupid.

Not sure what you're talking about (1)

rsilvergun (571051) | about 9 months ago | (#45634397)

companies are great at thinking long term. Look at gerrymandering in the United States. It took 20 years for the Republican party to completely take control of the State Legislatures and use that control to redraw the districts. Look at Hostess Bakery, that spent 10 years dismantling their Union.

If anything, companies are great at screwing us in the long term. Now, doing _good_ in the long term. You're right, that just doesn't happen.

Re:Cancer cured! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45632485)

Hate to break it up to you, but not all countries use a for-profit system for health coverage.

In many countries, like mine for example, health-care costs come out of the pockets of governments.

In other words, if those cures work, it might not be in the interests of the american, for-profit system to use them, but it would be in the interests of the countries where health-care is run in a sensible manne to use them.

Which is the best illustration of why health insurance should never be run for profit, and should be run as a public service the same way fire department and the police are.

If your comment about Obamacare is any indicator of your political affiliation and opinion on private health insurance, your comment shoots your opinion in the foot.

Re:Cancer cured! (3, Insightful)

DrXym (126579) | about 9 months ago | (#45632533)

Cures are not perpetually profitable. Only treatments are.

Well that's a particularly cretinous argument. Purely from a profit perspective which is better for doctors, hospitals, "big pharma" and insurers - a dead kid or someone who is cured and goes on to live another 70 years, requiring all kinds of medical interventions during that time not just for himself but for any children he may have?

Re:Cancer cured! (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45632783)

Cures are not perpetually profitable. Only treatments are.

Well that's a particularly cretinous argument. Purely from a profit perspective which is better for doctors, hospitals, "big pharma" and insurers - a dead kid or someone who is cured and goes on to live another 70 years, requiring all kinds of medical interventions during that time not just for himself but for any children he may have?

You seem to be overlooking the dark hole that no one wants to acknowledge when it comes to keeping humans alive for a very long time.

Resource management is a job of every government, including yours. We only have a finite amount of resources on this earth, and a happily cured, ever-growing population of 10 billion+ in another decade will not help that in any way.

I'm certain that with the advances in sheer human ingenuity, we'll be able to figure out a way to live 150 years or more. It's a shame that the practice will be deemed illegal, and in many ways today, it already is (stem-cell research, cloning, etc.)

Argue that all you want. You'll find it rather hard when numbers don't bend. Math is a bitch, as is the reality we face today.

Or we could just keep on growing at an insane rate as a healthy cured population, make all unhealthy things illegal, and in another 30 years, we'll go full-on Soylent Green for our source of food. Have fun with that.

Realize that I'm not a cretin. I'm a realist who isn't ignorant as to who the real cretins are.

Re:Cancer cured! (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 9 months ago | (#45633231)

Or. The herd will eventually cull itself to sustainable levels. Humankind has a ready arsenal of population control methods at its disposal, not the least of which are famine and a tenacious appetite for war.

Re:Cancer cured! (1)

Narcocide (102829) | about 9 months ago | (#45634091)

Or with basically infinite lifespans available through breakthroughs in medical science, the long boring trip to other planets won't seem so long or boring anymore, thus freeing the Earth of overpopulation.

Re:Cancer cured! (5, Insightful)

mark-t (151149) | about 9 months ago | (#45632703)

Cures are never welcome in the industry

That would be false.

First of all, the industry has cured many diseases. It just happens to be the case that no significant additions have been made to the list of fully curable diseases for several decades.

At most, this might suggest to the layman that current trends seem to indicate that the current health industry may no longer be interested in curing diseases, but in practice, to actually adopt the premise as genuinely true requires conspiracy theories which are not logically sustainable in a rational debate, and most notably fails to consider the possibility that actually curing diseases could be a really hard thing to do and may not be something that can be reasonably expected to happen regularly in the absence of any breakthroughs happening, which are not something that can generally be anticipated beforehand anyways.

Re:Cancer cured! (1)

hackus (159037) | about 9 months ago | (#45633685)

Not only are cures not profitable, they disrupt billions in cash flows for different treatment options for cancer.

Any sort of cure in the field would probably put a bullseye on your forehead.

Eventually we will have a cure for cancer and it will be HIGHLY regulated or sold to the highest bidder only like all valuable and rare commodities.

-Hack

Re:Cancer cured! (3, Insightful)

Courageous (228506) | about 9 months ago | (#45633697)

You're letting your imagination get away from you. If you are an insurance company, and a patient presents to you with a potential in $500K+ in medical expenses, you'd want to unbook that risk as quickly and as affordably as possible.

Re:Cancer cured! (5, Informative)

Stickerboy (61554) | about 9 months ago | (#45632419)

Why do I even bother responding to this nonsense.

Cancer gets cured about once a decade, sometimes by real doctors, sometimes by "quacks." I could show stats from real doctors with similar results to this one, which never saw the light of day once it was discovered (or rediscovered).

Please, do show us the stats. I get tired of the false meme that "oh, we would have cured disease X already if the results weren't being suppressed in a big conspiracy"! Medical research is hard work, and frustrating. Not only do you have to cure the disease in the test tube, but then you have to cure the disease in a living patient, and make sure it doesn't do something equally or more horrible to the patient in the process.

On top of that, the public has been oblivious to the fact that real progress in cancer treatment, and yes, even cures, are being made. Many leukemias and lymphomas are now curable through chemotherapy and radiation. This boy in the article is in the small minority that standard treatment did not work. Solid tumor cancers are getting better early detection and treatment. Mortality from many cancers has been dropping over the last 2 decades. [itv.com] What was once usually a consistent death sentence doesn't have to be.

People don't actually like creativity, even in medicine:

http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2013/12/creativity_is_rejected_teachers_and_bosses_don_t_value_out_of_the_box_thinking.html [slate.com]

Staw says most people are risk-averse. He refers to them as satisfiers. “As much as we celebrate independence in Western cultures, there is an awful lot of pressure to conform,” he says. Satisfiers avoid stirring things up, even if it means forsaking the truth or rejecting a good idea.

In medicine, innovative things happen all the time. When *you* go to the doctor, you get the same ol' thing that has been done since 1952.

Most of us physicians try to live up to our creed: "First, do no harm." This includes not jumping to try every crazy-ass, untested treatment that some would-be genius cooked up and put in a syringe on the patients under our charge, if there are other treatment options that are still available. And here's a crazy thought: some diseases are better off untreated. I have an 85 year-old with dementia that was recently diagnosed with a lung tumor, likely malignant cancer but slow growing. Am I going to recommend putting her under general anesthesia, the knife, follow-up chemotherapy and possible radiation? Hell no.

If you truly think the standard of care in medicine is the same as 1952, I invite you, when you get sick, to turn down any or all recommendations for an MRI or a CAT scan. No heart catheterizations. No minimally invasive or laparoscopic surgery. No joint replacements. Very few blood pressure, cardiac, or autoimmune treatments. None of the advances for asthma and other lung diseases. If you're infected and allergic to penicillins and sulfa medications, good luck! I certainly wouldn't want the alternatives: veritable bleach in the veins or antibiotics toxic to the kidneys and ears.

tl,dr: You're full of it.

Re:Cancer cured! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45632505)

While you are totally right in what you say, I think the main misinterpretation of the grandfather comment's commenter is due to the use of the word "cancer", singular. The fact is, there are many, many different kinds of cancer.

When you see an article saying "cancer cured", you usually have to read the fine print at the end of the article you only find via a hidden link somewhere to see what proportion of cancers this cure actually works on. In this particular case, the cure worked on a fraction (the fraction that did not respond to chemo and bone marrow transplant) of leukemias (a fraction of blood cancers).

Re:Cancer cured! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45632897)

...On top of that, the public has been oblivious to the fact that real progress in cancer treatment, and yes, even cures, are being made. Many leukemias and lymphomas are now curable through chemotherapy and radiation.

I see. And how again does the industry define "cured"? Oh yes, that's right, if you live 5 years or more.

Yes, please feel free to tell the mother of a dead teenager how their child "cured" 6 years ago is counted as a "survivor" in your pathetic justification to continue to radiate a human body to cure it, with massive profits in tow.

And you have the unmitigated gall to stand there and call the public oblivious.

Re:Cancer cured! (-1, Troll)

segedunum (883035) | about 9 months ago | (#45632903)

Oh, sod off, you're full of it. I've heard these excuses countless times over the years, and they are excuses, plain and simple. Countless billions, probably trillions, have been literally thrown at cancer research over the decades and very little has come out of it. A modest increase in survival rates and life but at a cost where extremely pricey drugs are required to do it that simply drive a wedge between rich and poor.

The simple fact is that if you have just about any cancer that is moderately advanced in any way then your prognosis is not good, and it's a hack of a lot less if you aren't at least moderately wealthy.

Re:Cancer cured! (4, Informative)

rjh (40933) | about 9 months ago | (#45633017)

The reason why progress has been so slow is because there is no one single disease, "cancer." Instead we have a few thousand different diseases which we collectively call cancer. Many of them look extremely similar, even to professional oncologists. First we have to identify all of these different cancers, and then we have to discover effective treatments against them. Some cancers will have common weaknesses; many (most?) do not.

There's a reason why cancer is called "the Emperor of Maladies". Cancer is probably the hardest scientific problem the human race has ever wrestled with. It makes the moon shot and the internet look like pikers by comparison.

Cancer is hard, and every day we don't have a cure more people are going to die in horrible ways. The first part makes us want to give up on cancer research, or to say that it's too hard, or to say that we haven't made any progress... but the second part will always keep us coming back to do more research and make another attempt.

My dream is that cancer might be cured in 100 years. I think it's a dream worth working for.

Re:Cancer cured! (4, Interesting)

transporter_ii (986545) | about 9 months ago | (#45633453)

there is no one single disease, "cancer."

Scientists are in "complete surprise" that cancers closely resemble each other across widely varying organs, according to Dr. Douglas Levine of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and the principal investigator on a new endometrial cancer study published Wednesday in the journal, Nature.

"The problem," leading to existing drug treatments performing at an unsatisfactory 10% death rate, was in "the traditional methods for categorizing the leukemia," said Dr. Timothy Ley of Washington University in St. Louis, who co-led a study simultaneously published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

"Cancer of the uterine lining closely resembles the worst ovarian and breast cancers... telling evidence that cancer will increasingly be seen as a disease defined primarily by its genetic fingerprint rather than just by the organ where it originated," says The New York Times' interpretation of these results.

Re:Cancer cured! (4, Informative)

rjh (40933) | about 9 months ago | (#45632967)

I'm reminded that when President Truman had his heart attack in 1956, the official prescription from his physician was bed rest accompanied by Mrs. Truman to keep him warm.

That was the whole, complete prescription.

Anyone who says medicine hasn't improved since 1952 simply isn't paying attention.

Re:Cancer cured! (1)

hackus (159037) | about 9 months ago | (#45633839)

I am talking about cancer not about heart attacks, just to clarify.

By the way, you are correct, heart disease as a issue in humans is a bio-mechanical problem so it is much simpler to solve.
(Essentially straight forward, since wee can design machines as well to replace the heart, or simply just cut stuff out that doesn't work.)

So we can mitigate that much better than cancer (which is uncontrolled cell growth.)

Still I can cite many cases where the medical, primarily Universities and Pharma companies have done some seriously dark deals in the back board rooms just to set back any advances using patents to protect cash flow.

I know, because I worked in a Biotech company that would rather see you kill grandma than let go of its patents and cash flow. Everything else be damned including the set backs for DECADES it would cause in the cancer field.

-Hack

Re:Cancer cured! (2)

phantomfive (622387) | about 9 months ago | (#45634109)

Still I can cite many cases where the medical, primarily Universities and Pharma companies have done some seriously dark deals in the back board rooms just to set back any advances using patents to protect cash flow.

The cite them; do you understand that there is a difference between actually citing something, and saying you can cite something?

Because I have convincing proof here that I've been to the moon and back. In fact, I posting this right now from the moon

Re:Cancer cured! (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45633015)

Thank you for that. Some people definitely need to get their heads out of...um, the nineteenth century.

I'm currently in chemotherapy for non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and the treatments have significantly improved just in the past few years. I'm getting a chemo regimen that was just described in an April 2013 paper as superior in all ways to the previous favorite - better results, fewer side effects. Things are definitely getting better, and the techniques being used are truly amazing. My chemo has gone pretty well, with some side effects, but I'm hopeful that I'll be in remission by summer.

The treatment described in TFA sounds really promising. If I do relapse, I have some hope that they could adapt this to my lymphoma in the future.

Re:Cancer cured! (3, Interesting)

rjh (40933) | about 9 months ago | (#45633023)

Thank you for being a physician. Seriously. It's appreciated.

(-- would've been dead in the '90s except for someone like you)

Re:Cancer cured! (3, Interesting)

transporter_ii (986545) | about 9 months ago | (#45633509)

I get tired of the false meme that "oh, we would have cured disease X already if the results weren't being suppressed in a big conspiracy"

This guy was on to something good. When he was farting around in the lab, he got funding. When he started to get results, the funding vanished. I love his statement in bold below:

http://www.popularmechanics.com/blogs/science_news/4273366.html [popularmechanics.com]

So how did you get it funded up to this point?

There is some private funding and the university put some funding into it. And also, at early stages when we studied the mechanisms of these mice, we had one Mitchell Cancer Institute grant, several small grants from Cancer Research Institute. But they all stopped funding me. It was kind of a strange situation. I thought it was our common goal to come up with a new weapon to fight cancer, but the moment I announced I had a new weapon to test in real human cancer situations, everybody shied away.

Re:Cancer cured! (1)

hackus (159037) | about 9 months ago | (#45633711)

No YOU are full of it.

MRI's or CAT scans aid in diagnosing a problem.

If you had cancer in 1952, the only change in outcome compared to today is a a pretty picture too look at in your doctors office that cost GIANT WADS of F'ing cash.

"Awe, you have cancer look at the pretty picture." You have 3 months, oh and if you want 6 months, we will need you to go into bankrupcy.

vs in 1952

You have cancer, your going to die.
(No bankrupcy, no giant wads of cash for pretty pictures.)

You sir are a MORON.

-Hack

Re:Cancer cured! (5, Insightful)

jiriki (119865) | about 9 months ago | (#45632455)

In medicine, innovative things happen all the time. When *you* go to the doctor, you get the same ol' thing that has been done since 1952.

That is just wrong. If you look at breast cancer 10-year survival rates (Figure 3.4): http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/cancer-info/cancerstats/types/breast/survival/ [cancerresearchuk.org]

They have come up from 41% in 1970 to 77% in 2007. While cancer is not cured, survival rates are a lot better.

When talking to the doctor three years ago, when my girlfriend had a breast-cancer operation, they had the latest studies and decided for a treatment based on them. The doctor only worked 4 days a week and took 1 day "off" to keep up with current research.

The chemicals used for chemo-therapie are updated all the time and also genetical fingerprinting of the tumor cells is used to decide which treatment makes sense. So there are lots of differences even compared to the treatment 10 years ago.

Re:Cancer cured! (2)

bluegutang (2814641) | about 9 months ago | (#45633135)

It could just be that on average cancer is detected earlier now than in 1970. So everyone still lives the same amount of time, but the arbitrary 5-year clock starts ticking earlier.

Re:Cancer cured! (1)

geekmux (1040042) | about 9 months ago | (#45634107)

It could just be that on average cancer is detected earlier now than in 1970. So everyone still lives the same amount of time, but the arbitrary 5-year clock starts ticking earlier.

Exactly right.

If anything has really shown actual improvement, it's cancer detection.

We can't even speak about cancer prevention, for there are likely more things that can cause cancer in the human body today than ever before.

And you speak volumes referencing the 5-year clock, which that metric hasn't changed in decades.

Statistics can be a blessing and a curse.

Re:Cancer cured! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45634149)

You can compare stage'd cancer instead - early detected cancer is all stage 1, so your complaint is valid for stage one survival rates but not the others. Stage 1 breast cancer rose from about 80% to about 90% in the last 2 decades, while stage 2 has nearly doubled from ~25% to ~55% and stage 3 has made reasonable gains from ~25% to about 45%. That's the last two decades, I couldn't find statistics from before then that were much use here. The point is that it is a myth that these gains were all in early detection. Everyone wants to believe we haven't made serious gains in treating cancer, but we really have. We aren't by any means close to curing the damn thing, but some basic research would show you how far we've come in the last 50 years.

Re:Cancer cured! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45632911)

It gets "rediscovered" via different means. Nothing says cure like a "20% chance of system wide organ failure", but if you have a 5% chance to live another year, I'm sure you're willing to chance it.

There's plenty of creativity in Europe, (1)

rsilvergun (571051) | about 9 months ago | (#45632969)

where they still fund some basic research. Here in America, where we're all taxed to the max and the "Job Creators" are just too underpaid to make more jobs ($4400/hr? How could anyone live off that?) we've pretty much stopped funding basic research. I know several doctors that moved to Europe not to escape over regulation (ha!) but because nobody here would pay for their research. With the Universities becoming a paid racket ($40,000 for in state tuition? not enough, it goes up ever year) we're not even getting that anymore (can't have those evil tenured professors runnin' round spreadin' lies anyway)...

Basically, American is the wealthiest country on the planet and we're hoarding it :(.

Re:Cancer cured! (5, Informative)

Idarubicin (579475) | about 9 months ago | (#45633375)

In medicine, innovative things happen all the time. When *you* go to the doctor, you get the same ol' thing that has been done since 1952.

I don't know why I'm even bothering to respond to someone who writes down such utter bollocks, but I'll bite.

The very first cancer patient was treated with cobalt-60 irradiation in late 1951, in London, Ontario--so I suppose that slips into your 1952 window (though the instruments used in those preliminary 1951 tests bear very little resemblance to those used today). The first use of a clinical linear accelerator for high-energy radiotherapy wasn't until 1956, at Stanford.

The first clinical x-ray CT scanner was used in 1971; it took five minutes to collect a slice of data, and more than two hours to process that data into a rather low-resolution image. PET scanning using FDG started around 1976. The first commercial MR imagers appeared around 1980, after a decade or so of futzing about with technical challenges.

The drug cisplatin wasn't approved by the FDA until 1978; it was the first discovered of a line of platinum-containing antineoplastic drugs. The drug taxol received FDA approval in late 1992. It was the first clinically-used taxane, a family of compounds which inhibit microtubule formation and thereby disrupt cell division. Rituximab was approved in 1997. It was the first anti-cancer monoclonal antibody therapy; there are now more than a dozen. Imatinib was the first small-molecule kinase inhibitor for cancer therapy, approved in 2001.

All of the above techniques and therapies are available to *you* and in routine use today - when they haven't been superseded by even newer developments. I hate to break it to you, but this ain't your grandma's oncology.

Re:Cancer cured! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45634179)

I tried to say this hours ago but slashdot decided I was a bot, over and over. IIRC you are a bit off on your clinical dates for linacs, although if you are talking about actual use on patients my dates might be wrong(they put it more like 53-54). Don't forget the newer techniques though - the last 20 years has seen proton therapy move from just a couple of sites around the world to a rapidly growing number, with at least a handful being built around the US right now. Wish I could have ranted at this idiot earlier :(

Re:Cancer cured! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45633907)

Google danger theory of the immune system or spinal fluid antibodies. There are lots of promising things out there, but no one will touch it with a ten foot pole.

fail! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45632225)

"curing intractable cancer" If it can be cured, it's not intractable.

ENDS _TEXT

Re: fail! (1)

StikyPad (445176) | about 9 months ago | (#45633323)

I do not think that word means [google.com] what you think it means [google.com] .

fascinating... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45632231)

I would be most interested to know why it doesn't work, when it doesn't work.....

I have been reading about this for about 7 years so nice to see it being deployed.

Stem Cell "Training Project" for Skin Cancer (4, Interesting)

BoRegardless (721219) | about 9 months ago | (#45632283)

California Stem Cell, Inc. has been doing a similar project since about 2005 in training white blood cells of a patient to recognize malignant melanoma cells out side the body, growing large numbers of those white blood cells and then reinjecting them back into the patient. To date they have achieved some very high remission/cure rates. They have FDA clearance pending but not yet issued. The process was originally developed by doctors at Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach, CA as I recall from a speach.

www.californiastemcell.com

Re:Stem Cell "Training Project" for Skin Cancer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45632329)

The political kickbacks are probably not high enough for clearance.

Re:Stem Cell "Training Project" for Skin Cancer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45632345)

thank you for that. I heard about it when collaborating with some physicians to give some molecular genetics support. Hence, my fascination for when it doesn't work....

Re:Stem Cell "Training Project" for Skin Cancer (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45633161)

I had a similar treatment (tumor infiltrating lymphocyte (TIL) w/o genetic engineering) for my stage 4 malignant melanoma 16 months ago at NIH. My tumors are almost gone: one left, barely large enough to be visible in the resolution of the CT scanner. The fifteen years of statistics at NIH of this trial show five-year survival rates of 20% to 40% (depending on whether or not total body radiation was included), which is incredible for melanoma. Some patients are getting genetic engineering on their WBC to see whether or not that improves the procedure. Modern medicine is incredible. Personalized therapy for cancers via immunology is a very promising direction.

90% 5 year melanoma survival as I recall (2)

BoRegardless (721219) | about 9 months ago | (#45633455)

I listened to the VP of marketing from Calif. Stem Cell recount that their limited trial of stage 4 melanoma patients had something like a 90% survival rate, which is astounding.

I know they are now getting ready to do a final 3rd clinical trial which is needed before final FDA clearance.

Nixon 1 - Cancer 0 (0)

Silpher (1379267) | about 9 months ago | (#45632357)

Just kidding,

Medical world 1 - (cancer = western highly refined diet) 3789411354

Re:Nixon 1 - Cancer 0 (1)

asicsolutions (1481269) | about 9 months ago | (#45632741)

Yes, because we know no other people in the world get cancer. Not in the third world. [worldcancerday.org] Of course sharks also can't get cancer: [sharksavers.org] Or animals: Have your shark fin soup lately to help ward away the cancer? The only animal that apparently doesn't get cancer is The naked mole rat: [sciencedaily.com]

Re: Nixon 1 - Cancer 0 (1)

smaddox (928261) | about 9 months ago | (#45634069)

Oh, so we just have to stop refining our food, and we will be able to enjoy the long lifespans the developing world experiences?

Important but over-hyped (3, Interesting)

John_Yossarian (1160273) | about 9 months ago | (#45632433)

My wife was part of a stage 3 melanoma study for the drug Ipilimumab (brand name Yervoy), an immunotherapy drug that inhibits the signal mechanism used by the immune system to turn off an attack. So any metastatic cells floating around her body would not be able to masquerade as normal cells by flying the right protein flag. Unfortunately, halfway through the trial she had a major reaction that caused brain swelling, requiring her to be hospitalized twice. Fortunately, she survived the side effects and the oncologist believes she had enough of the juice to get most of the benefit. Without the drug, we were looking at 50% survival rate for 5 years. The study is still in progress, so no idea how Ipilimumab will improve the odds.

There is research out there claiming green tea, spices like tumeric, and just eating better can have dramatic results. I would like to see some serious research by respected oncologists into the efficacy of simple life changes like that, instead of study after study pushing big pharma's insanely expensive drugs (thankfully covered by the trial in our case) that cause side effects potentially more dangerous than the disease they are intended to treat.

I don't know if reprogramming T-Cells like in TFA is more or less dangerous than conventional immunotherapy. Cancer makes people desperate enough to take some pretty big treatment risks. I certainly appreciate the fact that oncologists are aggressive in their mission to save lives, but I wish we had more non-fringe research into potentially good treatments that were also cheap and safe.

Re:Important but over-hyped (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about 9 months ago | (#45632579)

There is a line about diet that says something about how the PH of your body can affect cancer cell growth or something like that. I guess the more acidic it is, the easier it is for the cancer to grow and spread. No one says it will cure cancer, but they seem to claim it will slow it's progress and prevent it in most cases.

However, I heard it from some radio doctor who pushes alternative treatments so I don't know how much value I would place in it. Seems to me if this was true more then a couple anecdotal incidents it might be a common practice. I know Jane Fonda attempted to treat her ass cancer with diet. My brother nad a friend of ours swears up and down that our friend's grandmother was dieing from cancer and our friend gave her some hash because the pain pills were making her nauseous and she perked up and lived somewhat well for about a year and six months longer then the doctors said she should (wasn't bed ridden either where before she was). They claim that she ran out and didn't tell anybody to get more and died about 3 weeks later. I don't think the hashish fixed her cancer or helped her outside of maybe dealing with pain in a seemingly less toxic way though. But none of us are doctors. I do know that when my back was blown out, the Vicodin and Morphine would get me that way sometimes when I would take too much. Taking a couple one-hits masked the pain enough to tolerate it but didn't have the side effects of the other drugs.

Re:Important but over-hyped (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | about 9 months ago | (#45634313)

There's a good chance that the hash just made her feel a lot better, both with the nausea and liveliness, and it didn't do anything at all to help the cancer. The first two effects are pretty well proven.

Re:Important but over-hyped (1)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about 9 months ago | (#45632935)

You don't need to wait for research on the benefits of eating well. Eating well is never a bad thing!

If you want results now, then you should try looking into cultural food systems that have evolved over thousands of years such as ayurveda. When what few studies have been done by western medicine confirms things that food philosophies have been saying for millenia, it's sometimes better to take a more serious look at them.

Re:Important but over-hyped (1)

segedunum (883035) | about 9 months ago | (#45632951)

There is research out there claiming green tea, spices like tumeric, and just eating better can have dramatic results. I would like to see some serious research by respected oncologists into the efficacy of simple life changes like that, instead of study after study pushing big pharma's insanely expensive drugs (thankfully covered by the trial in our case) that cause side effects potentially more dangerous than the disease they are intended to treat.

Sadly, after seeing the countless billions thrown at cancer research over the years I can't be anything but extremely sceptical and downhearted on that one. A simple, cheap remedy or even something that would help in a small way is just not on the cards. So much money has been chucked at cancer that if those things haven't been properly researched by now they never will be. Cancer research is a sinkhole for lots and lots of money and that will never change as things stand.

Avoid cancer (-1, Troll)

Reliable Windmill (2932227) | about 9 months ago | (#45632565)

Cancer doesn't just happen. If you can, avoid all the synthetic chemicals you get in your system from your food and environment. Avoid processed foods, and those full of food colorings, sweeteners, preservatives, and others. Get rid of all the plastics from your kitchen, and if you can, avoid food that comes in plastic containers, especially wet foods with extreme shelf life that sit and soak in the plastic container for months before being consumed. Put more fat, protein and fiber in your diet and get rid of the carb. Avoid the typical western high-carb diet which is rocket fuel for cancer cells.

Re:Avoid cancer (2)

drerwk (695572) | about 9 months ago | (#45632633)

I am sure you can lower the risk with dietary choices. But in fact genetic mutations that lead to cancer do just happen - that is more physics than choice.

Re:Avoid cancer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45632659)

Here it is, folks: the key to preventing cancer and saving countless lives, provided by "Reliable Windmill".

Re:Avoid cancer (1)

king neckbeard (1801738) | about 9 months ago | (#45632683)

You have to avoid everything to avoid cancer. There are causes, but there are far too many known causes to avoid (let alone unknown), and most of them have absolutely nothing to do with western decadence and are not avoided by the latest fad in fake ancient eastern holistic advice. You can be following your advice to the t and still get cancer.

This is evil... (1, Funny)

tomhath (637240) | about 9 months ago | (#45632593)

...because they're turning those children into Genetically Modified Organisms. And we've all read many times here on /. that all GMOs are bad.

But I hope this therapy works out. Progress against cancer is made one step at a time.

Re:This is evil... (1)

almechist (1366403) | about 9 months ago | (#45632857)

...because they're turning those children into Genetically Modified Organisms. And we've all read many times here on /. that all GMOs are bad.

But I hope this therapy works out. Progress against cancer is made one step at a time.

Which brings up an interesting point... If a company changes your genetic code as part of a cure they have patented, do they then own your cells which are now GMOs (more or less)? Will you get sued if you try to propagate the patented material via procreation?

Re:This is evil... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45633095)

So, you're saying we need laws to label which children have GMOs in case we need to eat them?

Re:This is evil... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45634417)

No, we should neuter them so it doesn't spread.

Use in healthy patients? (1)

multi io (640409) | about 9 months ago | (#45632717)

If you can genetically engineer cancer-killing T-cells, couldn't you just inject those into healthy patients (i.e. all the rest of us) as well, as a sort of immunization, just like you can get vaccination against influenza or tetanus?

Re:Use in healthy patients? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45633063)

If this is like the previous leukemia studies, those aren't cancer-killing T-cells, they're B-cell killing T-cells.
Meaning after treatment patients need regular immunoglobulin transfusions.

Re:Use in healthy patients? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45633157)

The general problem is side-effects and rare bad reactions that will kill lots more people in the healthy population than lives saved from cancer. If you have a 100% chance of dying from cancer untreated, then it's worth taking a treatment with a 1% chance of killing you anyway --- but you sure don't want to go applying that to every healthy person on the planet. Messing with the human immune system is a way to get all sorts of unanticipated and deadly side effects; having loads of extra cell-killing cells in your body, looking for work to do, probably isn't a good choice unless the alternative is quite dire.

Re:Use in healthy patients? (2)

stoploss (2842505) | about 9 months ago | (#45633521)

If you can genetically engineer cancer-killing T-cells, couldn't you just inject those into healthy patients (i.e. all the rest of us) as well, as a sort of immunization, just like you can get vaccination against influenza or tetanus?

Simply put, those T-cells wouldn't have the proper MHC. The body would recognize them as foreign, and the immune system would kill the injected T-cells.

That's one reason this works, but is so hard: they have to "load the weapon" by modifying a T-cell from the patient's own body. MHC is the same reason you can't just get an organ transplant from any random person... if it's not a match, the immune system will kill it.

People getting regular organ transplants take immunosuppressants, because even then the match isn't perfect. Obviously, it would be pointless to "transplant" immune cells to fight cancer, only to have to suppress... immune cells... in order to prevent the transplanted T-cells from being sniped by the immune system.

Re:Use in healthy patients? (2)

Guppy (12314) | about 9 months ago | (#45633617)

If you can genetically engineer cancer-killing T-cells, couldn't you just inject those into healthy patients (i.e. all the rest of us) as well, as a sort of immunization, just like you can get vaccination against influenza or tetanus?

The Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-Cell (CAR-T) technique actually requires a new lineage of modified cells to be created for each individual patient, engineered from each person's own immune cells. Unfortunately, this is an expensive and time-consuming task, and scaling to mass-production will be very difficult.

A second problem is that cancers may have differences from normal cells, but the differences are subtle compared to a microbe or virus -- precisely because they are not foreign, they are "us" in a sense, being born from our own normal cells. With exceptions (too few exceptions, unfortunately), there is no "cancer antigen" that marks it as being such. In this case, the patient has a cancer that arises from B-Cells. So what they've done is create a T-cell that ignores the usual proscription against attack the Self, and indiscriminately kills all B-cells (healthy or cancerous), wiping them all out.

Of course, B-cells are what produce Antibodies for us, so afterwards each patient needs a steady supply of IVIG (produced from the Antibodies in donated blood or plasma) to replace the Antibodies they are no longer producing. Still, it beats dying of Leukemia.

Incredibly vague. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45633353)

This article sounds interesting at first glance, but there's nearly nothing to learn from it. You stick genes into T-cells and then they go about killing cancer? What genes do you put in them, what do the genes do, what is it about the cancer cells that lets the T-cells know that they're not healthy!? There's been a lot of interest in using the immune system to target only cancer cells, and if something like this is working to this extent then it's definitely newsworthy, but 'we stick genes in them and they kill all the cancer' is not news--it's handwaving.

At least give us a name of a researcher responsible for the technique, or the specific name of the technique itself, so that we can look up the information ourselves. Saying that there's an awesome new technique discovered and we're not going to be told how it works is like dangling a carrot in front of our noses without letting us eat it. Incredibly frustrating.

Leukemia is one of the more curable cancers (1)

kilodelta (843627) | about 9 months ago | (#45633403)

But this is good news. We can in fact teach the human immune cells to recognize the threats. In fact it already does, it's why a lot of cancers pop up later in life. But if we bolster the immune system we could see cancer eradicated.

Isn't this rather old news? (4, Interesting)

rnturn (11092) | about 9 months ago | (#45633431)

A very close friend was supposed to go through this treatment almost two years ago. Unfortunately for him, you need to be is pretty good shape before this is begun and his cancer was spreading to various places in his body and he was never quite to the point where the doctors felt he could tolerate a new form of treatment. All I could think of was that the oncologists were stuck in a deadly game of whackamole; hit that place where the cancer was discovered and it popped up somewhere else. When the cancer spread to his brain, it was all over. By then his estimated of survival was, maybe, six weeks and he lasted less than a week after the discovery of it having gotten into the brain. Maybe if the original "We got it in time, there's nothing in the lymph nodes"[*] had been followed up with this treatment he'd still be around. When it was discovered to have returned it was probably already too late.

[*] -- The cancer that was discovered a couple of years ago was found to be the same one that he'd had surgery/chemo for years earlier. My feeling is that `clean' lymph nodes are probably a false hope. What evidence is there that cancer always leaves a trace in the lymph nodes anyway?

'Miracle' cancer cures = junk science (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45633665)

America is the only land on the Earth obsessed with 'cancer' this way. Any headline about 'curing' cancer inflates the share value of some US drug company or other, and this is the intent of such deplorable PR.

A REFRESHER- cancer simply means the uncontrolled division of any cell in the body. It means NOTHING else. Cells normally divide and reproduce under very specific control mechanisms- individual cells don't live all that long so such a mechanism is essential for higher forms of life. However, 'bugs' can occur within the 'firmware' of the cell, causing that cell to divide, and produce child cells with identical firmware bugs.

The cell division, in and of itself, is harmless. The 'buggy' cell is likely to otherwise function normally. So where does the problem lie. Well, the cancer cells can produce unregulated mass (tumour) to a degree that causes a biologic issue, especially if the cancer cell ends up in a place in the body where such cells are not normally found (in any real numbers).

Why is cancer HARD to treat. Well, while individual significant tumours can frequently be located and removed by surgery, increasing numbers of cancer cells can end up in really unfortunate places, screwing up the essential local functions of your body. AND, apart from their tendency to reproduce, from the outside (cell surface) the cell usually looks completely healthy to the immune system of the body.

Skin cancer tends to be of near ZERO concern, for instance (save in those nations where cancer scare propaganda runs out of control, like the USA and Australia) because skin cells have little to ZERO opportunity to travel to sensitive parts of your inner body. No 'cancerous' tumour on the surface of your body can harm you significantly there. The cancer cells need to get 'inside' to do real harm.

Systemically, it would seem obvious that there are forms of cancer (in other words, cell types and locations) that will always be near impossible to 'treat' usefully. One would need a machine that could 'scan' the entire body, mapping EVERY cell, and then have a means to SAFELY get to cell clusters identified as 'cancerous' and safely kill those cells. However, micro-tumours in key organs would, as you may imagine, be unthinkably hard to 'kill' unless one had some magic '3D' 'zapping' technology that could safely place disruptive energy into precisely the location of the cancer cells, without harming the cells around them.

Something similar to this was tried with sound interference patterns used to attempt to break down the various 'stones' that may form like 'pearls' in the Human body, but I think it had the same 'success' as the Star Trek method of 'spraying' high pressure shots into the patients arm. These ideas, like the horrificly stupid use of neutron beams in cancer 'treatment', fascinate engineers who don't have to count the cost of patient suffering when such idiocy does worse than simply not work.

Here's news for many of you Yanks. The worst cancers, common in late age, are incurable, and so-called cures offered at unthinkable expense by US medical providers are simply mechanisms designed to most efficiently extract cash from the victim's bank account. Compare life expectancy figures in the US with the rest of the World, and THEN ask what your obscenely expensive and elitist 'health' care system actually provides. Your American TV shows NEVER show a family where all the children are healthy, no matter how rich that family is written to be. You Americans are TRAINED and GROOMED to be hypochondriacs, especially in regard to your kids, by your mainstream media- and yet you never ask "why".

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