The Liberty Doctor
January 9, 2011
My early training was in biochemistry. I did several years of rotations through the department at MD Anderson that did human testing and development of new chemotherapeutic agents such nucleoside analogs. This department is called “Developmental Therapeutics”.
Part of our interdepartmental philosophy was to have brainstorming meetings with premiere researchers and clinicians from all over the world almost every day. One of the things that all these fathers and mothers of the chemotherapeutic industry agreed on was a particular “Cancer Model.” The model was essentially that cancer arises when cells get deranged by having their genetic programming changed in expression (covering and uncovering areas on the genes) or from actual mutation of the code and in some cases modification of the code by viruses (plasmid injection).
Most agreed that every man, woman and child under this model would develop cancers somewhere in their bodies every year several times (but they normally go away). Fortunately, the most common thing that happens to a cell when it is modified is for it to die (rather than it losing its inhibition to grow greedily into its neighbors and stimulate capillaries to support it and become a malignancy). Most mutations are non-viable. In addition, our cells have very aggressive repair mechanisms that fix transcription errors on a genetic level. In the event that the error is not fixed and some cells do grow, the immune system recognizes the cells as foreign and kills them.
My concern is that early detection of cancer at the cellular level will have us aggressively looking for the location of these early cancers. The main tool for finding early cancer location when you don’t know if it is in the lung, liver, colon, prostate, mouth or wherever is full body scanning. If you check out background radiation experience and compare it to other radiation experience you will find (on Wikipedia for example) that most of our exposure, other than background, is occupational or from medical testing and therapy. 75% of our exposure is from CAT scans.
It is very likely that aggressive use of scanning technology will double or triple the incidence of radiation-caused cancers in the diagnostic patient’s future. It is also likely that in cases the cancer cannot be found (it is occult), it is because it has already been destroyed by natural process or has died on its own. People will be encouraged to undergo “preventive regimes” of chemotherapy which also will cause a direct increase in other forms of cancer.
Much more risk-benefit analysis needs to be done regarding what percentage of these “early cancers” are going to take root before we start looking for them with radiation, or poisoning the whole patient so we might kill a baby cancer.