Monday, August 4, 2008

Neoplasms: 22

This is the 22nd blog in a series of blogs on neoplasia.

Today, I thought I'd summarize the points that I've been trying to make in the preceding 21 blogs.

The common cancers of man have many causes and are genetically complex. The cancers seen in adults, which account for the bulk of cancer deaths, are constantly progressing toward even greater complexity and tumor heterogeneity.

The bulk of cancer research is directed towards finding a cure for the common cancers that occur in adults, but the common cancers have been the hardest cancers to cure. Advances in treatment for the common cancers have come through small extensions in the lifespan of cancer patients achieved through improved protocols developed in clinic trials. Clinical trials are long and expensive, and often produce negative results (i.e. demonstrating the inefficacy of a candidate treatment).

The cancers that we have learned to cure are rare tumors, characterized by simple genetic abnormalities. Cures for the rare cancers cannot yield large decreases in the number of people dying from cancer. Lessons learned from the rare cancers may one day lead to cures for the advanced* common cancers. At the present moment, there is no reason to think that a breakthrough in treating advanced, common cancers will happen any time soon.

In previous blogs, I suggested that the best approach to eradicating cancers may be through the precancers. By treating precancers, we can stop cancers from developing.

-Copyright (C) 2008 Jules J. Berman

*An advanced common cancer is one that has spread extensively from its site of origin.

key words: cancer, tumor, tumour, carcinogen, neoplasia, neoplastic development, classification, biomedical informatics, tumor development, precancer, benign tumor, ontology, classification, developmental lineage classification and taxonomy of neoplasms

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