Cancer: What We Know, What We Don’t Know

We once believed that cancer was just another one of those devastating epidemic diseases that we eventually found a “cure” for, like smallpox and polio. It has instead proven to be a most formidable adversary due to its dynamic and evolving nature¬it changes even as it is targeted with the latest treatments. Progress has not been in the discovery of a definitive “cure” so much as in finding specific, effective treatment protocols for each type of cancer that subdues cancers, and prolong lives. Early stage breast, colon and prostate are currently the most effectively treated forms of cancer and usually involve chemotherapeutic drugs or radiation and their associated side effects before or after the surgical excision of tumors.

According to the American Cancer Society, cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States and accounts for 1 out of 4 deaths in the U.S. In 2015 an estimated 1.7 million new cancer cases will be diagnosed with an estimated 600,000 deaths related to cancer. 

  • The most common cancers in 2015 are projected to be breast, lung, bronchus, prostate, colon rectum, bladder, melanoma of the skin, non-Hodgkin s lymphoma, thyroid, kidney, renal, pelvis, endometrial, leukemia, and pancreatic.
  • Cancer mortality is higher among men than women (207.9 per 100,000 men and 145.4 per 100,000 women).
  • The number of people living beyond a cancer diagnosis reached nearly 14.5 million in 2014 and is expected to rise to almost 19 million by 2024.
  • In 2014, an estimated 15,780 children and adolescents ages 0 to 19 were diagnosed with cancer and 1,960 died of the disease.
  • National expenditures for cancer care in the United States totaled nearly $125 billion in 2010 and could reach $156 billion in 2020.

Cancer has been around a long time. It was first written about in the texts of Egypt 4000 years ago. Cancer occurs when previously normal cells change and begin dividing without restraint. It can spring from the mutation of a single cell or it can affect up to 50 or even 100 cells, meaning that it often takes many mutations of a cell for cancer to take root.

Possible causes that set us up for cancer are:

  1. Viruses, such as Epstein Barr, HIV, Hep B and C Some believe that parasitic infestations can also set the stage for cancer.
  2. Chemicals ̶ Before cigarette smoking lung cancer was extremely rare—only 1% in 1901. In 1964 cancer was officially linked to smoking. In 1967 it was discovered that chemicals mutated genes in ways that caused cancers.
  3. Genetics ̶ chromosomal defects and cellular mutations

The Human Genome Project and the Cancer Genome Atlas have shed some light on the genetic aspect of cancer proliferation but it seems that one answer has led to several more questions.

It Appears That the Vulnerability to Cancer is Already In Us


  1. Quit smoking. 50% of deaths are down for lung cancer due to quitting smoking.
  2. Obesity is now considered to be an epidemic contributing factor.
  3. Avoid the contraction of viruses, unprotected sun exposure and asbestos.
  4. Other suspected causes are plastics, sugar, electronics, chronic sleep deprivation, regular exposure to x-rays, mammograms, CAT scans, chemical additives, artificial sweeteners, emotional trauma, accidents, and drugs, although they are not confirmed.
  5. Fluoride added to municipal drinking water in the US and other countries has been clearly linked to causing cancer of the bone, (osteosarcoma) as well as other types.
  6. 40% of cancer diagnoses have no known causes.

It is currently believed that implementing prevention can reduce occurrence of cancer by 50%.

Recently, one of the more promising approaches to treating cancer is the idea of harnessing the body’s own immune system to fight cancer but Immunotherapy seems to be effective in only some cancers such as melanoma and some lung cancers. The normal identification process of the the immune system that destroys bacteria, viruses and foreign materials, seems to stand by and ignore the cancer cells, recognizing them as “self”. The most recent attempts of research have been to “wake up” and specifically sensitize the immune system to assist it in recognizing cancer cells.       

The New York Times published an article in its October 2009 issue entitled “Cancers Can Vanish Without Treatment, but How?” by Gina Kolata. It challenged the inevitable growth of cancer once it appeared. There have been mysterious spontaneous remissions, too numerous to count. Dr. Robert Kaplan, the Chairman of the Department of Health Services at the School of Public Health at the University of California, Los Angeles admits that “the weight of evidence is pointing this way.” Jonathan Epstein of Johns Hopkins University, states that “disappearing tumors are well known in testicular cancer.”  One example: in 1993 a British medical journal, Lancet published a study that showed early screening often leads to unnecessary treatment. Although 33 percent of autopsies in men reveal prostate cancer, only about 1 percent die of it.

Studies on treatment of small kidney tumors led Dr. Martin Gleave, Department of Urologic Sciences at Vancouver General Hospital, New England Journal of Medicine, to leave them alone and watch them over time. Scans revealed that 80 percent do not change and actually regressed over a three year period. Even experts are baffled and are questioning whether the treatment is having a significant effect upon clearing up the cancer or if it is the body of the individual that is the determining factor. The problem is that although a huge number of cancers seem to appear and disappear of their own accord, it doesn’t happen nearly as frequently as the cancers that progress into more dangerous conditions, so how do we make those choices for others and ourselves?

Cancer has been approached from the complete removal of diseased tissue to the use of chemotherapy, radiation, parasite cleanses, fasting, oxygenation therapies, acupuncture, herbal therapies, supplements, colonics, blood transfusions, bone marrow transplantation, essential oils, nutrition, extreme dietary changes and more and there are some testimonials to support the claims of each of these approaches that worked for someone. Suzanne Somers sought non-traditional physicians in order to effectively treat her breast cancer and succeeded. Therapeutic grade essential oils have many personal testimonials around their eradication of disease. Many books have been written by physicians and scientists attesting to the electrical frequency of the body and the need for a resonant frequency to eradicate disease. Nobel Laureate and winner of the Nobel Prize for cancer research, Dr. Otto Warburg discovered that human cells have an electrical voltage. The Body Electric by Dr. Robert O. Becker, M.D. explains this principle. NIH has published results supporting the use of essential oils to treat the side effects of cancer but not the cancer itself.

Depending on whose research you go with 40-50% of the population will get some form of cancer in their lifetime. Receiving a diagnosis of cancer is only the beginning of a frequently long and arduous journey to healing, and in some cases, in dying. Probably the most important first question to ask one’s physician is, “How advanced or dangerous is my cancer?” Only then can the best course of action be undertaken by the patient and their support system. Cancer is no longer restricted to the weak and elderly but taking care of one’s health and immune system can give one an advantage in recovery after necessary surgical and toxic treatment protocols are completed.

Today, it is nearly impossible to not have or be acquainted with someone who is experiencing cancer. That makes cancer everyone’s challenge as the search for effective treatments and the support and compassion required to embrace the needs of patients forges forward.


 “Cancer is Not a Disease—It’s A Survival Mechanism”,  Andreas Moritz

“How To Cure Cancer,” Time Magazine Cover Story, April 1, 2013

*“The Emperor of All Maladies—A Biography of Cancer”, Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee, Columbia University Hematologist/Oncologist

“Why Everyone Seems to Have Cancer,”January 5, 2014. The Cancer Chronicles, George Johnson

Anita Alexandra, L.Ac., CH is an acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist with 17 years of experience. She practices at Chiropractic Health and Acupuncture, 619 Main Street, Frisco. (970)668-3299.       

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