More Cancer Treatment Failure
By: Dr. Randy Wysong
At the recent meeting of the American Association of Clinical Oncologists (ASCO), some 25,000 doctors met to discuss advances in cancer therapy. Over 10,000 scientific abstracts were presented.
Surely now, after countless billions have been spent on research since President Nixon’s war on cancer was declared in 1971, there must be some dramatic cures. Something must have emerged from this meeting to reverse the growing cancer epidemic and justify the skyrocketing medical costs for cancer treatment.
But not so.
The meeting highlighted how that cancer therapy is shifting from conventional cut-burn-poison to a more technologically sophisticated, molecularly targeted pharmaceutical approach. It’s a cash cow heyday for drug companies and a wonderful fix for the addicted Rx generation.
A new fleet of drugs include tyrosine kinase inhibitors such as Gleevec and Iressa. Tarvesa is an ingenious pharmaceutical that targets the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) in neoplasms. Another category is antiangiogenic drugs, such as Avastin, that inhibit the growth of blood vessels in tumors.
There have been some qualified ‘successes’ but not without downside serious side effect risks. For example, Avastin causes serious and even fatal bleeding into the lungs (hemoptisis). In one instance 31% of patients experienced this side effect.
But, you might say, so what if there is a good chance of cure? Surprisingly, during this meeting, little discussion could be heard about meaningful results. Everyone was giddy about the science (like kids with new toys), but the take away for the cancer victim was sobering and depressing.
There was a lot of talk about mechanisms of action and theory. There was also many numbers and charts about the effectiveness of the new drugs used alone or in various combinations with others, including conventional chemotherapy. The package presented to attendees was impressively wrapped in science, but what about the results.
In one instance it was found that the new therapies increased survival from 10.8 months to 12.9 months. Progression-free-survival (PFS) was changed in another comparison from 7.2 months to 7.6 months. In another comparison overall survival was changed from 10.2 to 12.5 months and PFS changed from 4.5 to 6.4 months. In yet another comparison the overall survival changed from 5.91 to 6.37 months-- about two weeks. One week was added to remission-free survival.
These pathetic results did not dampen the enthusiasm of pharmaceutical purveyors out in force at the meeting with product booth displays rivaling those at the super bowl half time. One company called their drug a “breakthrough... providing new hope for patients with advanced... cancer." Doctors, looking at only the statistical numbers, concluded that the results were “important" and “exciting" because they were “not due to chance". Of course the mainstream media jumps right on with wild claims about how the cure is now just around the corner.
Please. One week!
What’s the cost benefit of this “exciting" new progress? In just two years, spending on cancer drugs will increase from 22 billion dollars to 32 billion. Just adding one of the new drugs, Avastin, to a treatment regimen will increase costs to the patient of $8,000 per month. While these miracle life extensions of a couple months or a week are going on, costs are escalating 500 fold. If you submit to this leading edge cancer treatment miracle, expect to pay about $250,000.
Recently I was talking to a pharmaceutical salesman who was excitedly detailing the benefits of the drugs he represented. He had impressive numbers of how his drug produced results better than competitor’s drugs. I asked him how his results compared to no treatment at all. Stunned by the question, he had to admit he had no idea.
That’s the first and most obvious question that should be asked before submitting to any potentially toxic or invasive therapy. Those were not the sorts of answers that came out of the ASCO meeting however.
You see, the medical and patient imperative is to ‘do something,’ meaning medical intervention. Never mind that the disease may be self-limiting or reversible by simple life style, dietary or natural treatment options. Why, it would be unethical to do a study where a comparison group was not treated!
Do you see the failed logic here? Can you see that the bias that cancer is a disease that ‘strikes’ us ignores real causes-lifestyle and dietary changes that put us out of sync with our genetically adapted to environmental roots?
If you are struck with any disease, before submitting, ask the question and demand the evidence: “What is the proof, my good doctor, that the treatment you are recommending is superior to no treatment at all or to safe and natural lifestyle and dietary changes"?
Modern allopathic medicine is just too risky, dangerous and expensive to just roll over and expose your soft underbelly to them.
One also has to make the decision that if fatality is inevitable, whether extending life in a hospital bed, being a pin cushion, living your last moments in misery from drugs and expending your family’s entire savings is worth a couple of months or weeks of life... if even that is true.
The cure for cancer is to prevent it. Learn how to live life healthily and get at it. If it strikes, don’t panic and fall victim to the ‘something must be done’ mania. ‘Fighting’ cancer is also not surrender to the medical establishment.
True health care means patients must be active partners, not mere passive recipients. The paradigm must be changed such that primacy is given to self-responsibility for prevention, and respecting and encouraging the innate capacity for self-regulation and healing. By engaging, patients gain a feeling of control and emotional strength. The psychological stress of the disease combined with essentially no coping strategies is a primary reason for recurrence.
Modern tumor-based cancer care, on the other hand, is about a love affair with biomedicine and its fragmentation and overspecialization. More attention is paid to lymphocyte counts than to the patient. The result is dehumanization, dependency and disempowerment for patients, and more machines, pharmaceutical reps and money for medicine.
This is not to say there have not been therapeutic successes. Surgically debulking tumors (although surgery can also incite benign to malignant), chemotherapy for some forms of leukemia and skin cancer, are such examples. But that is an embarrassing result in terms of the overall scale of the disease. For the 10 major killing cancers, survival has not improved over the past 50 years.
Your best hope, as always, begins with thinking. Learn think about what there is about your life that caused the disease. Change your life and investigate alternative approaches (See Wysong Resource Directory).
There is hope, but as with anything else in life it resides in what you do to yourself, not what others do to or for you.
Cancer - The Missing Point http://www.wysong.net/health/hl_956.shtml
Is Common Sense or Research Needed to Cure Cancer
Research on Pancreatice Cancer.... http://www.wysong.net/health/hl_898.shtml
Wysong e-Health Letter Archives http://www.wysong.net/archivesehl.shtml
Wysong Resource Directory “Cancer"
R. Moss, PhD., Townsend Letter for Doctors, Aug, 05, p. 44
“New Cancer Drugs Are Driving Up Cost of Care," LA Times, May 14, 2005
Ramirez, A., et al, “Stress and relapse of breast cancer," British Medical Journal, 1989: 298: 291-293
Spiegal D., et al, “Effect of psychosocial treatment on survival of patients with metastatic breast cancer," Lancet 989: 888-889
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