A New Hope
It starts rather simply. A subtle alteration in a pair of innocuous genes whose main responsibilities are promoting cell growth and reproduction, and inhibiting cell division and survival. As the cells begin to multiply unchecked, a miniature environment begins to form around the malignant tumor. Blood flow is drawn to the new entity and pathways to intricate systems throughout the body begin to form, all for the benefit of this menace.
The very cells used to crush invaders of the human body are turned against it as the mutation spreads to all that come near the epicenter of this cell growth. All the fundamental securities put into place by evolution begin working for the tumor as a "survival of the fittest" mentality permeates the area.
What does the body playing host to this dramatic coup feel?
There are no computer pop-ups that signal to someone that their body has turned against them, no appointment dates on a calendar reminding them to get their genetic sequence checked.
Initially there is very little that the host body outwardly experiences, but the symptoms are soon to come. When they do come, they are often similar to multiple disorders of the same region, earning cancer the title, "The Grand Imitator."
Fortunately our detection methods have come great distances in the past 30 years, allowing medical professionals to identify and begin treatment as soon as possible.
Scientifically our society has worked tirelessly to cure this genetic mutation, only to be thwarted by the very monster they are chasing. But, throughout all the scientific inquiry and subsequent failure, there is one endearing motivation that drives all working toward a cure...hope.
"The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their ways out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen." -Elizabeth Kubler Ross
Hope is a human imperative. It drives us to succeed, to progress, to wake up and embrace the coming day, to know that life is worth the struggle. Hope guides the weary to the light when the darkness is folding in around them.
With hope in mind I would like to discuss some cutting-edge cancer treatments that are providing just that to those in their time of need.
Cancer Microvessel Intervention (CMI)
Cancer Microvessel Intervention shares many traits with traditional chemotherapy, but is much more specific in its application.
With chemotherapy treatments, the entire body is subjected to the medications and radiation for the entire therapy. This means that, while the tumor is being exposed, the healthy cells throughout the body are exposed as well. This exposure is what leads to hair loss, compromised immune system, fatigue, neuropathy, and much more.
Now, this isn't to say that chemotherapy doesn't do exactly as it was intended. Statistically, chemotherapy may not have the greatest survival rate, but it has given years to people who weren't expecting them.
Cancer Microvessel Intervention takes a combination of chemo medicines and combines them into a fine grain particle. A catheter is then inserted into the artery nearest the tumor, to ensure direct access to the area. This process is called superselective catheterization (health professionals certainly are a creative bunch are they not?).
The fine grain mixture of chemo medicines is designed to linger in the porous tissue that tumor cells consist of. Once inside the cancerous tissue, an increase in osmotic stress (the amount of water contained within changes) will occur, effectively blocking blood flow. This blockage prevents the tumor from obtaining any of the nutrients that it requires to continue multiplying.
Due to the fact that our body is constantly in motion, the chemotherapy medicines will eventually move to the rest of the body, but in significantly smaller doses than traditional chemotherapy. With this reduced exposure, the symptoms commonly seen in chemotherapy patients are greatly reduced.
Cancer Microvessel Intervention is just one of the many new techniques being used to battle cancer and instill hope. Check back in next week, we will be discussing Cyrosurgery. Yes, it is as cool as it sounds.