Here’s the Positive News on Cancer

by on October 22, 2015

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“We’ll be able to cure all, or almost all cancer within 10 years”. So says some misguided “cancer expert” every few years or so.

And one of the tabloid newspapers obligingly print it.

Unfortunately it hasn’t happened yet.

So, sure – you need to watch out for exaggeration, even among those with expertise. (And with egg on their faces 10 years later.)

BUT it will be curable one day.

And in the meantime we are making some incredible headway.

Curable? Really?

Oh, definitely.

Imagine what it was like back in the early twentieth century when we had:

  • Tuberculosis
  • Syphilis
  • Gonorrhoea
  • Blood poisoning

… all of which imposed a death sentence on the sorry victim.

No-one could have foreseen the discovery of penicillin by Alexander Fleming in 1928.

It took 10 years or so to become widely used. And when it did it must’ve looked like a complete and utter miracle.

What are the Current Results?

Well, the image at the top of the post says it all: Cancer survival (who’s still alive 10 years later) has DOUBLED in the last 40 years.


Some cancers – such as lung, stomach, melanoma, prostate  – have fallen dramatically.

New Treatments?

New approaches to treating cancer are announced often – it seems it’s every few months.

Here are a couple.


“The future of cancer therapy looks ‘incredibly promising,’ Dr. D. Gary Gilliland, president and director of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre, said Tuesday.”

(Unfortunately, he added:

” It’s actually plausible that in 10 years we’ll have curative therapies for most if not all human cancers…”.

But we now know to ignore that bit!)

Nevertheless, ignoring the hyperbole, it’s true that the immune system can fight cancer successfully.

The immune “T cells” which you might have heard of definitely kill cancer cells.

However, there is a problem.

Here’s the Process:

Cancer cell produces “antigen”

A specialised body cell (dendritic cell) detects the antigen and informs the T-cell

The T-cell kills the cancer cell

The dendritic cell also (stupidly it seems) produces a chemical which stops the T-cell attacking.

(Go figure…)

The Solution

So the way is open

…for a drug to be made to inhibit the dendritic cell from it’s second action.

This is exactly what the drug ipilimumab does.

It was used recently to treat melanoma, the “usually fatal” skin cancer, combined nivolumab, another immune system drug.

Amazingly, out of 1000 people, nearly in 60% the melanoma stood still or receded.


” Professor Peter Johnson, director of medical oncology at Cancer Research UK, said: ‘The evidence suggests we are at the beginning of a whole new era for cancer treatments.’ ”

Translation: “We are definitely onto something – even though I’m probably being a bit optimistic’,

Piggybacking on Malaria

Malaria uses a specific protein to bury into the cell of its victim.

Scientists have isolated this protein, added a toxin to it and targeted cancer cells.

In studies, this method produced highly encouraging results in three types of cancer, two of them can be difficult to treat:

  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Bone cancer
  • Prostate cancer

Here’s a report of this recent study.

Let’s be Optimistic

Most of us will have either had cancer, or know somebody who has.

As we live longer, the chance of getting cancer increases.

But let’s remember how antibiotics knocked tuberculosis on the head in Western countries.

And pretty quickly.

Cancer survival rates are improving all the time.

New medical discoveries are being made constantly. Such as the two I mention here.

If only the government made its priority to find “a cure for cancer”, it would happen twice as fast.

Unfortunately, that level of common sense has not been found in a UK government, yet, of any hue.

But the medics are getting there with treatments for cancer. It will just take a little bit longer.

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