I’ve not personally been there, but I have a few friends that are in the midst of fighting cancer and I’ve also lost a few family members to this disease. So, I know how frightening cancer (and chemotherapy) can be.
Unfortunately, one of the things that is just as frightening is chemotherapy. Treating cancer with chemo has got to be the world’s worst double whammy.
But as awful as chemo is, researchers recently discovered that it’s much worse than we ever thought.
Fuel for the fire
We can now add this new evidence about chemo to the list of things your oncologist would rather you NOT know about chemotherapy:
1) Chemo is highly effective in only 10 types of cancers. All of these cancers are rare in adults, except one (testicular cancer).
2) Chemo causes “chemobrain.” As I mentioned recently, this condition is “post-chemotherapy cognitive impairment.” In some patients, brain fog symptoms have lasted more than two decades.
3) Chemo can cause secondary cancers.
This summer a well-known American television presenter announced that she had developed a secondary cancer. Her doctors believe that chemo treatments for breastn cancer caused this new malignancy. And with that news, I’m sure many people realized for the first time that chemo could be the primary cause of further cancers.
And that brings us to the newest item on this list:
4) In some cases, chemo actually fuels cancer.
Chemo causes DNA damage to healthy cells. Cancer experts believe this damage may be part of the reason why some patients develop chemo resistance.
Researchers were studying this phenomenon when they made an alarming discovery. They found that DNA in healthy cells, damaged by chemo, caused a massive secretion of proteins. One of these proteins, called WNT16B, actually nourishes and promotes the growth of cancer cells.
Researchers found high levels of WNT16B in healthy cells surrounding prostate, breast, and ovarian tumours in chemo-treated patients.
This is devastating. In the past, cancer patients might endure the harshest chemo side effects with faith that the misery would all be worth it. But in some patients, misery is compounded by increasing the cancerous load.
Fortunately, we have one last item on the list of things your oncologist would rather not talk about:
5) There’s a natural alternative to chemotherapy. It does no harm to healthy cells. So there’s no resistance to treatment.
I’m reviewing a couple more studies but expect to have all the information for you tomorrow.
Still on the topic of cancer… When it comes to ovarian cancer, knowledge is key. Even though ovarian cancer accounts for four per cent of all cancers in women, it has a 90 per cent cure rate if it is detected in its early stages. The following simple precautions can drastically increase the chance of early detection:
- Give a thorough medical history to your gynaecologist. Disclose any personal and family history of breast, endometrial, or colon cancer, as well as any use of fertility drugs (these may put you at higher risk)
- Have an annual pelvic examination carried out and routine sonograms.
- Know the symptoms of ovarian cancer.
Genetics do seem to be a factor in the likelihood of developing ovarian cancer. If your grandmother, mother, sister, or daughter had or has ovarian cancer, or if you are of Northern or Eastern European Jewish descent, you may be at a higher risk. Make sure your doctor is aware of your family’s background.
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“Chemotherapy May Co-opt Healthy Cells to Support Tumors” Bridget M. Kuehn, News at JAMA, 8/6/12, newsatjama.jama.com