Cancer Treatment, Limiting Factor In Rising Survival

Friday, November 9, 2012
Trenton Martkes

The average length of life now is somewhere around 75 years right? Which is crazy when you consider the dramatic increase that this number represents in the amount of knowledge and technology that medicine has experienced in the last 30 years. The problem is that we get people to live longer and we find out the next major factor that is limiting the length of our life. At this moment that limiting factor is cancer and our lack of definitive cancer treatment.

It isn't that we don't understand cancer very well--because we do. We know that it goes back to errors that occur in our DNA in one cell most of the time that enable that cell to break out of the normal and healthy limitations of growth and connectivity to other cells. This rogue cell than goes and reeks havoc by invading areas critical to life and destroying them by disrupting the form and therefore the function of whatever organ they have invaded. It also isn't that we don't have any knowledge of cancer treatment -- because we do. We have drugs that will go in and (as selectively as possible) take out the cells that can't otherwise be controlled. We also use physics to our best ability with radiological oncology and gamma knife surgeries. We now can find cancer much sooner and treat it more definitively.

The problem is that cancer is bigger than we can handle right now and is able to evade human's abilities to control it. We can't cure the most aggressive forms, we can't detect the most subtle cases, and our cancer treatment is much much too crude. The treatments are necessarily toxic to the cancer but we haven't gotten good at making it selective so that the body doesn't take a serious hit. Maybe the largest part of cancer treatment that we fail on is prevention.

We as American’s and as humans more generally have a lot of bad habits and have set up our world to rely on too many things that are extremely hazardous to the environment and to our health. We smoke too much while knowing full well that it is assaulting our lungs, we eat too much fat knowing that it gives us cancer of the colon and the breast, we work and live in air that we have made toxic to breathe, etc. Yes we are really our own limiting factor, not cancer, not our lack of good cancer treatment. I wonder if we will ever wake up and stop blaming doctors for not being good enough and start to take responsibility for our actions.

Submitted By: → Trenton Martkes