Man Without Qualities

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

And The Number One Cancer Myth Is .... III

Prior posts (here and here) have noted a paper appearing in the medical journal Cancer that Reuters summarized this way:
When US adults were polled about certain erroneous cancer 'myths', the most widely believed misconception was that surgical removal of a cancer can cause it to spread throughout the body. .... The new findings, which appear in the medical journal Cancer, come from a telephone survey of 957 randomly selected adults who reported never having been diagnosed with cancer. Forty-one percent of subjects believed that surgery could, in fact, spread a malignancy to other regions of the body, lead author Dr. Ted Gansler, from the American Cancer Society in Atlanta, and colleagues note.
As my prior posts note, people sharing this "most widely believed misconception" seem to include some of the most acute researchers in cancer treatment, including Judah Folkman. The "misconception" itself seems to be nothing other than the widely respected theory of "surgery-induced angiogenesis."

Today a Wall Street Journal report describes a new paper appearing in the International Journal of Surgery that documents a study supporting what the authors of the Cancer article described as the most widely believed misconception. The new article itself is written in technical language and is somewhat difficult for a layman to read (although hardly opaque). The Wall Street Journal article summarizes the original article this way:
Doctors have long noted that the rate of recurrence for women with breast cancer is highest during the first two years after surgery to remove the tumor. Now a group of researchers say they have found a reason why: the surgery itself.

In a paper published today by the quarterly International Journal of Surgery on its Web site, the researchers argue that taking out the tumor triggers the release of certain substances in the body, perhaps as part of the wound-healing process or in response to the absence of the tumor. They believe that these substances, in turn, enable cancer cells that had been lying dormant in other parts of the body to undergo angiogenesis -- the process by which the body forms new blood vessels -- which also feeds the tumors' growth. ... The researchers' findings are based on their study of a database of 1,173 breast-cancer patients treated in Italy. They ... offer the theory of "surgery-induced angiogenesis" as the best explanation for a statistical cluster of recurrences in the group.... There is support for this idea in animal and human studies that link surgery to remove tumors, including lung and colon cancer, with cancer recurrence. ... The paper's authors don't advocate that women with breast cancer forgo surgery.
How is it that a paper appearing in the respected journal Cancer could lable the theory of "surgery-induced angiogenesis" a "myth?" And not just any old "myth," but "the most widely believed misconception" in this area of medicine.

Strange it all was. Passing strange.

Comments: Post a Comment