Are You DEAD Certain You are Free of Cancer?November 26, 2018
You had a breast lump and your surgeon did a lumpectomy. Your oncologist gave you six months of chemo and you lost your hair. Folks from church brought over casseroles and you wore a scarf for 4 months while your hair grew back. Are you cancer free? Are you safe? You had a mass in your ovary and had a hysterectomy?
You had a melanoma on your thigh and had a 2-inch margin incision. Are you safe?
You had your prostate taken out. Are you safe? Your PSA is 0.05. Is that good enough? Are you safe? What's it worth to you? Here is the dilemma.
There are huge numbers of us living with this awful uncertainty and the answer isn't as clear as we would like. We all hear about cancers coming back. You get emails from dear friends with comments like, "They found a hot spot on my PET scan in my pelvis". "The CT of my lung showed a mass." My sore elbow has a hole in the bone and the doctor wants a biopsy." Here are some facts about how cancer behaves.
First of all, visible cancer by eyeball techniques is a centimeter or so in size. That comes to about 1 billion cells. One billion is about 30 generations or 30 doublings of cells. Each generation takes about 3-6 months, so you have a 7-15 year time frame for that to have happened. You can't "see" generation 25 and earlier. They are too little by eyeball techniques. Most chemotherapies will kill the 90% of rapidly dividing cells of a cancer, but not the slow-growing cancer stem cells that learn from each sequence of chemo to be resistant. So, chemo doesn't really work on most solid tumors and has the price of making you feel sick, reducing your remaining quality of life with all its side effects. You die when the total mass of cancer is about a kilogram.
Cancer cells have some vulnerabilities. First of all, all cancers have broken mitochondrial membranes as their core defect. They have lost the ordered structure of their "energy factories" with their membranes effectively looking like curdled milk instead of orderly sequenced proteins. They can only burn glucose by making lactate, and the acidic quality of lactate drives the growth of high flow blood vessels. They need acid to encourage blood flow. All this translates into needing lots of glucose, being unable to burn fat, and hating alkaline foods. (Vegetables.)
More intriguing, cancer cells hide from the immune system by coating themselves with a bunch of novel proteins that have no business being on the surface of the cancer cell. And they generate all sorts of genetic defects we are learning how to interpret. Their DNA markers on histone proteins get characteristic patterns that reflect these changes. These "methylation" defects can be identified. Finally, cancer cells don't hold together as healthy tissues do. They break loose and spread like Viking raiders, spreading mayhem and carnage. Now, single cells aren't able to establish a colony but bundles of cells can. We all have a certain level of "circulating cancer cells".
Yes. All of us. All the time. (Terrifying, isn't it?) But folks with active cancers have more. If you have 20 cells make a colony, how long will that colony have to grow before it is visible? (Answer, 26 generations or 7-13 years). Would you like to know that? Can you imagine counting your circulating cancer cells, then changing your diet, getting more IV Vitamin C, adding IV Ozone, taking more curcumin, adding tetrathiolmolybdate, eating a pure ketogenic diet, doing some fast mimicking.......then recount your circulating cancer cells.
What would you think if your CTCs went down when you did that? Would you feel encouraged? Your nascent cancer is vulnerable to lifestyle manipulations when it is in its first 15 generations, less so in the last 15. Can you imagine a sure and steady hand to help you through that frightening thicket of fear and uncertainty? Next three-four weeks, we are going to explore the new and emerging tools of cancer biology testing to look at tests that help you do just that. Read the next four for five weeks of blogs and learn this material. Get good at it. Show these blogs to your oncologist. Read the book Cancer Free. Celebrate your life.
WWW: What will work for me. Well, I'm a cancer survivor times two. I've had two types of minor skin cancer but I had a lung APUDoma (rare endocrine tumor of the lung) that surgery fixed. But I had to wait for 10 years to be sure I was cancer free and never knew for sure. I've lived with that uncertainty all through my forties. Not so fun. I'm doing these tests because I'm running them all on myself just for starters. Join me. Want to know if you are cancer free?
- A typical 1 cm cancer has been around for how long? Answer : At least 7-10 years
- Why? Answer: because a cancer you can detect on exam or x-ray ( 1 cm) is about a billion cells big, which is 2 to the 30th power, or 30 doublings. Each doubling takes 3-6 months.
- Chemotherapy for most solid cancers fails in what fashion and why? Answer: It appears to succeed as it shrinks the cancer to so small you can't see it anymore. But that is only killing the rapidly dividing cells (90%) but not the stem cells which subsequently learn from the chemotherapy how to be resistant to it. 10-15 doublings, generations, later, the cancer is back, meaner and more resistant than ever.
- Would you do something different if you knew you had cancer still inside you? Answer: It's your life, your choice, but lifestyle changes are more likely to be effective when the cancer colony is tiny than when it's big.
- Can you think of one test you just read about that will give you a measure of your cancer, and the effectiveness of your lifestyle changes? Answer; Circulating cancer cells, for one.