Why we are losing the war against cancer

When he oncologist and researcher in this field Harvey Preisler He was diagnosed with a lymphoma in 1998, he wanted only one person to help him. "I trust only in your judgment," he told his wife, Azra Race, who is also a medical specialist in Cancer. The two studied MRIs, blood reports and options for treatment. Although they had an unparalleled experience in clinical practice, nothing could prepare them for horrors that accompany this disease.

At first Preisler woke up constantly drenched in sweat and with severe joint pain, picks up 'New York Post'. He subsequently developed several lesions, blisters on the tongue, swollen lymph nodes, blood clots, nerve pain, shingles, facial paralysis and, at the end of his life, sepsis and meningitis.

Although it had happened almost two decades trying and studying pre-leukemic bone marrow and acute myeloid leukemia (AML) conditions, Raza did not support the situation: "I had been treating several types of cancer for years, but until I shared a bed with a patient, I had no idea how unbearably painful that it could be a disease. "

The decrease in deaths is not due to the improvement of treatments, but because of the early diagnosis and a lower smoking rate.

After the shock caused by the death of her husband, the oncologist has taken out a book about this pathology, where he analyzes why are we losing this war: 'The first cell: the human cost of fighting cancer until the end'.

Current therapies

No therapy cutting-edge immunological or experimental trials with medications they saved her husband. Preisler lived in unimaginable pain for four years, until he died in 2002 at age 61, leaving Raza and his daughter behind, Sheherzad, who was 8. "Being positive is what they say should be done, as if it were a sin to express the intense pain and suffering of cancer patients, "says Raza." Why are we so afraid to tell the stories of the majority who die? Why continue promoting the positive anecdote? "He adds.

For the specialist there is the misconception that we are just around the corner from win the war against cancer. It is true that deaths from this disease have decreased considerably, but Raza explains that "that decrease is not due to the improvement of treatments, but mainly to the early diagnosis and the reduction of smoking ".

Another study indicates that we are managing to cure 68% of cases, but Raza qualifies that most of that cure rate "it was achieved several decades ago with surgery-chemoradiation therapies. Recent advances are mainly related to the improvement in cancer mortality due to early detection, not to significant advances in the treatment of metastatic cancers. "

We must investigate to find the first cell, the initial seed of cancer, and stop it before it develops

Focusing only on cases that move forward, he points out, and portraying the battle as almost won is "get involved in a deep denial about what many cancer patients face on a daily basis. "" The time has come for us to think of the majority who do not, but suffer the terrible toxicities of therapies, "he says in the book.

Prevention strategy

"Avoid the appearance of the first cancer cell finding its first traces, "has to be the strategy to cure all the pathologies that are grouped in the word 'cancer', says Race." Prevention will be the only cure and universally applicable, "he adds.

In fact, positive effects of that approach are already being seen. Thanks, in large part, to the "high quality detection, there has been a 25% decrease in cancer mortality in general: deaths from breast cancer decreased 39% and colorectals 47% in men and 44% in women, "he notes.

But Raza sees this as just the tip of the iceberg. The oncologist wants to delve deeper into research and find the one called "first cell, the initial seed of cancer, "and stop it before it develops.

The concept may not be as attractive as finding a magical cure for cancer, but Raza believes that "treatments and patient outcomes would improve enormously with a fundamental alteration of perspective".