Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Cancers can vanish without treatment


Call it the arrow of cancer. Like the arrow of time, it was supposed to point in one direction. Cancers grew and worsened.

But as a paper in The Journal of the American Medical Association noted last week, data from more than two decades of screening for breast and prostate cancer call that view into question. Besides finding tumors that would be lethal if left untreated, screening appears to be finding many small tumors that would not be a problem if they were left alone, undiscovered by screening. They were destined to stop growing on their own or shrink, or even, at least in the case of some breast cancers, disappear.

“The old view is that cancer is a linear process,” said Dr. Barnett Kramer, associate director for disease prevention at the National Institutes of Health.

“A cell acquired a mutation, and little by little it acquired more and more mutations. Mutations are not supposed to revert spontaneously.”[...]


  1. Well, well.

    If I had cancer I don't think I would rely on it...

  2. It does take some of the "that's so amazing!" edge of numerous miracle stories...


  3. This is old news. I think the general issues were understood several years ago.
    Where is Charlie Hall when we need him?
    Some screening finds false positives or precancerous changes or even cancers that will never develop.Most prostate cancers do not develop but only sometimes can we tell which are which.However treatment also has dangers.


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