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Curing Cancer

I’ve heard people say, “If we are making such huge advancements in science and medicine why haven’t we cured cancer yet?” I think a lot of people believe cancer is the only basis for which we can gauge scientific advancement these days, but I don’t necessarily think that is true. Many vaccines and different medicines are created every year. What do you think?

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. September 19, 2011 at 3:42 am

    My personal opinion is that cancer cannot be eliminated. My understanding has been that cancer is the reproduction of a defective cells. Some forms of cancer are caused by specific outside sources such as Viruses (HPV). Those causes can be prevented and cancer will have a few less sources. Other times, the genes inside of a cell are damaged from less specific environmental sources. Things such as radiation from the sun or smoke in the lungs will harm cells and potentially cause cancer. Besides sun block and fresh air, those causes of cancer cannot be completely eliminated, and humanity will continue succumbing to cancer.

    Treating existing cancer is slightly different though. Often, doctors have trouble specifically targeting cancer cells within the body because genetically, they are nearly the same as the cells around them. I do think it will eventually be possible for doctors to specifically target cancer cells within the body with medications and advanced antibiotics. Existing treatments that cut out tumors neglect the fact that cancer cells spread through the body through the vascular and other systems. On the opposite side of the spectrum, chemotherapy radiation treatments harm the whole body. These limitations will be overcome, and medicine will progress, as it has before and currently is.

  2. September 19, 2011 at 3:48 am

    In a free market economy, the wants of the masses dictate the actions of the business sector. While most Americans view the medical industry as well outside of this influence, hospitals and pharmaceutical companies operate in a surprisingly similar manner to more traditional public firms. When analysts recognize that a certain medical development will garner interest with the American people (and thus generate revenue), the industry generally responds willingly. This is not always a good thing. Pharmaceutical consumers as a whole are generally driven by individualistic desires, especially in terms of physical appearance. While most consumers recognize the moral precedence of curing cancer, few are actually willing to donate their own money to the cause. Forbes Magazine values the cancer research industry at 5 billion dollars. The diet pill industry, on the other hand, is valued at 18 billion.

    As a member of a family that has long been plagued by colon cancer, I find these figures sickening. Hardly surprising, but sickening all the same. This point was expressed at various moments throughout The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. While George Gey and his colleagues devoted every waking moment to the understanding of cancer and other aspects of abnormal human physiology, funding was a perpetual concern. I’m personally familiar with several modern day oncologists and other professionals involved with the investigation and treatment of cancer. In general, they are true remarkable human beings, dedicated in all regards to patients that they both have and have not met. However, at the end of the day, they can only do so much with what they are given. The fight against cancer is not one that we can allocate solely to the men and women in white coats. It’s our turn to grab a hold of the medical industry and steer it in the direction of righteousness.

    • Danika
      September 20, 2011 at 2:13 pm

      The economics of the health care and pharmaceutical industries are pretty interesting, and often counter-intuitive. Trent brings up the different scales of the cancer research industry v. the diet pill industry – well, consider that from a marketing standpoint, you’ll be able to market diet pills to virtually everyone, as long as you can convince most people that they weigh too much. Cancer treatments will only ever be used by the small sector of the population who suffer from cancer, and any given treatment will probably only be used by those suffering from a particular type of treatment. For a similar reason, antibiotics are an “endangered” area for research: consider that a given antibiotic will have a limited period of usefulness before the bacteria it was developed to fight becomes resistant. Moreover, if a company develops a particularly effective antibiotic, it is likely to be used as little as possible in order to preserve its effectiveness. Here’s a great blog post on this exact issue. It certainly suggests that a supply-demand economic model isn’t going to work as a model for financing research of this type.

  3. September 22, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    I think that there are many other benchmarks by which scientific progress can be judged. For starters, I do agree that while cancer from external viruses (like HPV) can now be vaccinated, many other causes of cancer mutate the cells and are not so easily dealt with. However, there are legitimate viral diseases, such as HIV, with which I believe should also be concerning themselves. I also agree that there is much more money in cancer research and while altruism cannot dictate what scientists do and do not choose to work on, I find it very unfortunate that so many choose to focus, even independent of drug companies, on the most crowded field because it’s more lucrative.

  4. September 23, 2011 at 2:36 am

    Whenever I discuss cancer with my mother, she always says, disconcertedly, that it seems like there is a lot more of the disease traveling around society today than there was when she was my age. Obviously, I can’t speak to whether or not this is true. Perhaps, when she was younger, many people had cancer, but either it wasn’t discussed, or it wasn’t properly diagnosed. Regardless of these two ideas, which do seem rational and probable, I am still somewhat concerned by her remark. Perhaps an increase of cancer in society today has something to do with the changing environmental conditions. Maybe Global Warming has had a bigger effect than most of us thought. This report from April 2010, entitled, “A Human Health Perspective on Climate Change,” shines light on these theories.(http://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/assets/docs_a_e/climatereport2010.pdf) The discussion of Cancer and its relationship to climate change can be found on page seventeen. The article claims that climate change naturally leads to the increase of toxic chemicals into the air, and the depletion of the ozone layer, which means that more UV light is transmitted to the Earth’s surface. We know that toxic chemicals and UV rays can cause cancer. That is factual. So if this article is correct in stating that these things are actually occurring on our planet, shouldn’t we be taking some sort of precaution against these serious health concerns? What about electric vehicles and solar power? Will this affect our health as well?

    More research on this topic is definitely a necessity, and the report admits that. To be honest, the article raises as many questions as it does answers. Regardless, take a quick glance over it; I think it’s noteworthy.

  5. September 24, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    Cancer truly is “the emperor of all maladies”. And there are many kinds of cancer. Not every single cancer is the same; so one treatment that may work for one, may not work on another because it’s like trying to screw in a nail with a toilet plunger.

    And there are recent advances in technology against cancer. Anyone here heard about an experimental treatment where a patient’s T-Cells are genetically modified to target cancer using a weakened from of the HIV-1 virus and then using the patient’s own immune system to get rid of the cancer? It’s pretty cool. Look it up.

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