Ask Dr. Block
I’ve heard you say we have made some recent gains, but overall, and for many years, we have been losing the “war on cancer.” Why do you believe this to be the case?
Compared to the mortality rate for other diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and stroke, the change in mortality for cancer over the past 65 years has been truly unremarkable. This, in spite of the billions of dollars and countless scientists and researchers that have been dedicated to fighting this “war.” So, why is there such a significant discrepancy in decreased mortality?
For the answer, we need to look no further than our current conventional model of cancer treatment. We talk in our culture as if screening is prevention. Screening, like colonoscopies, mammograms, prostate exams and routine dermatological evaluation and other screening methodologies, is not true prevention. Screening is catching it after it’s caught you; true prevention is stopping cancer before it catches you! While screening is important, and catching cancer early increases the odds of a favorable outcome, one shouldn’t confuse screening with true prevention. And while we say things like “lose weight,” “get fit with regular exercise,” and stop smoking,” it is not core to our mainstream approach to medical care, and when it comes to cancer, these most basic lifestyle strategies are not remotely as prominent as they should be. And these recommendations are made as generic recommendations; in my opinion, the optimal cancer prevention model includes detailed assessments and evaluations that screen for biochemical disruptions and correct terrain imbalances.
But possibly the most obvious front Nixon’s War on Cancer has failed patients is the biological front. Cancer is a disease of defects – in genes, of disruption in the micro-environment where the disease resides, as well as in the personal life of the patient and the family in crisis.
Biologically we are doomed if we continue on our single target, single agent mindset, and our research focus remains stuck in archaic gridlock! No serious scientist could still believe that cancer is about a single defect, single pathway or a single disruption. There are alternative and compensatory pathways that single bullet strategies will continue to miss. Even the latest breakthrough drugs that hit two targets don’t come close to addressing this problem. In theory, using more than two or maybe three drugs at a time would help, however, the cost and toxicities render this unrealistic. But this is not the case for nutraceuticals, where their combined usage has negligible risk, is able to hit multiple targets, and thus can address compensatory pathways. An added plus: they’re relatively inexpensive! So, while our biological understanding of the disease has evolved, we are not, for the most part, putting it to use! It’s a bit like designing the perfect life raft, but leaving it on board as the boat takes the plunge.
In addition, we now know that cancer is not only about the tumor. A ton of research demonstrates – and our work here supports this – that it is possible to create an inhospitable microenvironment where cancer cells lose ground, toxicity is lessened. and treatments work better. Many cancer treatments leave a patient with considerable oxidative stress, well known to interfere with treatment, increase various side effects including neuropathy, cardiomyopathy, fatigue and mucositis, … and provide the fuel for clonal evolution – increasing the aggressiveness of otherwise dormant cells for their next time around.
What does this all mean? It means that by not taking integrative cancer treatment more seriously by individualizing, innovating and systematizing treatment, we are missing an incredible opportunity to enhance mainstream therapies and make a difference in the survival and life quality for millions of cancer sufferers. It we are serious about making a genuine/real impact on this “war on cancer,” it’s high time we place integrative treatment/care front and center.