American Association for Cancer Support’s publications are for informational purposes and should not be considered medical advice, diagnosis or treatment recommendations.
Waiting to Live
By Melissa J. Gallagher, cancer survivor/American Association for Cancer Support’s volunteer publication contributor (11/8/2013)
Patience is a necessary virtue. We have heard countless times throughout the course of our lives that, in order to be good citizens and even to achieve success, we must be patient. There are times in life that, very simply, we must wait to get what we want. I often find myself telling my own children, “Please, be patient. Wait.” There are certain situations in which we absolutely can’t wait. Treating cancer is one of these.
I was diagnosed with an extraordinarily rare type of cancer March 10, 2005 at the age of 26. After being repeatedly informed by medical oncologists that my cancer had an average survival rate of three months, I was determined to go “against the grain” and create some new statistics, even if only to save one other young woman from this dreadful disease. The majority of doctors were less than optimistic about my long term survival and I quickly learned that I must move fast and seek professionals who were willing to look “outside of the box.” I inadvertently worked to create my own “wellness team.” Those who were closed minded and unwilling to try a “cure” were, ultimately, dismissed from the team. The people willing and able to mix statistics and data with just the right amount of hope and optimism and able to act quickly were added to the team and became valuable players.
As an 8+ year survivor of small cell carcinoma of the ovary (of hypercalemic type), the number one question I have received over the past eight years is, “How did you survive?” The answer, of course, is a complex one with various factors coming into play, including everything from age, health status (otherwise), stage of disease, to even geography and, very simply, luck. There is one reason that I know, with absolute certainty, that I am alive today. I didn’t wait. I didn’t wait to address my symptoms, I didn’t wait to find oncologists who would provide excellent treatment options and hope. I didn’t wait to live.
When I was first experiencing symptoms in 2005, they were the classically vague ovarian cancer symptoms of bloating, fatigue, back pain and constipation. After consulting with my family physician and treated for sinus infection, I realized that this was not the explanation I needed. I almost disregarded the gynecologist since I had just had my annual exam but, with the help of instincts, I returned to him. It was immediately determined that I had a large “cyst” and I was scheduled for surgery in two weeks. Instinctively, I knew that two weeks would be too far away. Ultimately, I had surgery approximately 1.5 week later and, by circumstance and perhaps a little bit of luck, it was performed by an oncologist.
Once I was diagnosed with this rare cancer, I was thrust back into “the waiting game.” I called physicians around the world and, as many of us have been, I was placed on hold and I waited. I scheduled appointments, waited for them to arrive and, once in the office, I was directed to the waiting room. Once gowned, I waited in a separate room. I quickly learned that I would spend a lot of time waiting. I realize that I do have to accept a certain amount of “waiting” in order to get the correct care. It almost becomes a game of knowing when to wait and when not to.
In 2005 I had contacted a major cancer center in New York and was told I’d need to wait a few weeks just for an appointment. I knew I couldn’t and so I did the only thing I knew to do. I explained my case, my situation and the urgency. I called back, sometimes several times per day until I hit the “jackpot” and appealed to that one person who was willing to listen and, once again, go “outside of the box.” I got in.
Once I began treatment, which, for me, included three different types of chemotherapy drugs and an additional surgery, I initially figured that I should wait for all of this to be over so that I could resume my life; so that I could live. I was wrong. I didn’t wait. I kept on living. I lived right through my treatments. Some days it didn’t feel as though I was living life to the “fullest.” However, on other days, it felt more “full.”
I can still recall my initial thoughts as I was released from the hospital in March of 2005. Once I stepped outside the hospital doors, saw the sun shining and felt the fresh March air on my face, I knew for a fact that I was still living. On the outside I looked like an ordinary, healthy girl released from the hospital and ready to return to her normal life. I was far from that. I was a girl in the cancer bubble in search of a new life. I was adjusting my vision as the view from inside the bubble was like none other I had experienced. The bubble separated me from certain aspects of life that I had once known, it brought me closer to others and, because of the “bubble” certain aspects of life that I had seen from afar were magnified and brilliant. The sun, for example, was almost blinding to me. Air had a life of its own. My feet were overly sensitive to the ground they touched. All of my senses were heightened. It was actually pretty fascinating in a way.
When I had my recurrence, four years after my diagnosis, I found myself in an emergency room, waiting. I waited for a scan and then waited some more for results. Once re-diagnosed, I found myself inside the ER, waiting. I called doctors, waited on hold once again. I knew this time, based on knowledge and past experience, that I could not afford to wait to remove the rather large tumor. My life depended on it. I contacted the same major cancer center and was given an appointment two weeks later. I went around all of this and, ultimately, met a new physician and had a successful surgery performed three days later. My sister explained it best: “The people who don’t know you can’t believe that you were diagnosed on a Thursday and operated on by a new doctor on a Monday. But the people who know you can’t believe you waited this long!”
Eight years into my journey to health and wellness, my world class oncologist (of a major cancer center in New York) knows one thing for sure; Melissa Gallagher won’t wait. If there is an obstacle separating me from my chance at a healthy life, I will go around it, climb over it or I’ll pick it up and take it with me. Don’t wait to live. The time is now.
Gives Back To The Community
So I started to think about what I would speak about. I began to think about my history or association I’ve had with cancer.
I remembered back to when I was growing up and I would go to visit my grandmother. I don’t ever remember her being sick, but I remember wondering what the rubber thing in her bra was. Sounds funny, and she even made it out to be funny back then. She never complained, and it was never really brought up. My grandmother had breast cancer and had to have one of her breasts removed. But she beat it and was never affected by cancer again. But as a child, I always associated cancer with age. I thought that was what happened when you got older…you got cancer.
Then, I thought back to when I was about 13 years old. I was living with my father out on Lake Sinclair in Georgia. I had a friend that I would ride to school with him and his older sister. I was in the 8th grade at that time, and when I started that year at a new school, I learned about Lyn Brown. Lyn was the older brother to the friend I rode to school with. He had stopped going to school that year because of cancer. I don’t remember what kind of cancer he had, but I do know that he lost his leg from the knee down because of it. Lyn had done most things guys his age would do, even without his leg. He played football with his prosthetic, rode 3 wheelers, and even hunted. He did grow very bitter in his seclusion after leaving school and eventually died a few years later. I then realized that cancer could affect anyone, no matter what age they are.
And this year, I lost my best friend of the past 10 years to cancer. Most of you know who I’m talking about…my chocolate lab, Herschel.
|After a swim at Whiterock Lake in Dallas, TX|
Back in January, I noticed a small, golf ball sized lump on his back. I didn’t think anything of it for about a week or two. But then, it seemed to be getting bigger. I eventually took him to the vet and it was hard to diagnose at first. Later it was determined to be cancer, and by this time it was too late. I even tried to take him to a specialist in Atlanta. The tumor grew to be about the size of a half vollyball, and he had another tumor on his rear leg.
Mesothelioma: An Overview
By: Faith Franz is a writer for The Mesothelioma Center for American Association for Cancer Support publication 8/28/2013
Mesothelioma is a cancer caused by asbestos. It develops in the mesothelium, which is the thin membrane that protects the body’s internal organs. Nearly 3,000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year in the United States. It is an aggressive cancer and requires advanced treatment from an expert team.
Asbestos exposure is the only known cause of malignant mesothelioma cancer. Most mesothelioma patients inhaled asbestos while working on a contaminated jobsite, and became ill 20 to 50 years later. Exposure to high quantities of asbestos over a long period of time is more likely to cause mesothelioma than shorter, lower-dose exposure.
There are three main types of mesothelioma:
- Pleural mesothelioma is the most common, and develops in the lining of the lungs.
- Peritoneal mesothelioma is the second most common and develops in the lining of the abdominal cavity.
- Pericardial mesothelioma develops in the lining of the heart.
Mesothelioma symptoms gradually increase over time. Chest pain, coughing and shortness of breath are the most common; others include weight loss, fatigue, and spitting up blood.
Mesothelioma is staged on a scale of I to IV. Stage I and II are less advanced and easier to treat, while stage III and IV have spread across the body and are often terminal.
Mesothelioma Treatment Options
Treatments for mesothelioma include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. A combination of the three is most effective.
Surgeries focus on removing the visible tumors from the chest or abdomen. Chemotherapy, which often includes the mesothelioma drug Alimta, works by killing off cells with cancerous growth patterns. Radiation therapy helps kill any lingering cells and may prevent metastasis.
The earlier the cancer is detected, the more treatment options there are. Therapies for late-stage mesothelioma – including oxygen therapy and surgery to drain fluid from the lungs – are often palliative in nature and focus on making the patient more comfortable.
Mesothelioma Life Expectancy
Most mesothelioma patients survive several months to a year after their diagnosis. Patients diagnosed with early-stage cancer often have a more positive prognosis. Just 10 percent of pleural mesothelioma patients achieve five-year survival. Peritoneal patients are more likely to respond well to treatment.
Faith Franz is a writer for The Mesothelioma Center, a comprehensive online resource for asbestos-related diseases.
The Initial Symptoms of Cancer- by Jula Connatser/American Cancer Support Org. – Download Brochure
The followings symptoms are signs of cancer – signs indicate that you may have cancer in different organs of the body!
1. Cervical Cancer
Symptoms: bleeding from the vagina that is not the normal monthly cycle time; abnormal pain and bleeding after sex; vaginal discharge; advanced symptoms may include swelling of one or both legs; back or pelvic pain; difficulty urinating or defecating because of obstruction; fatigue and weight loss. Cervical cancer is now considered the easiest female cancer to prevent.
2. Cancer in Blood or Leukemia
Symptoms: have fevers or night sweats; swollen lymph nodes that normally do not hurt, especially lymph nodes in the neck or armpits; frequent infections; bleeding and bruising easily without knowing the cause such as bleeding gums; having tiny red spots under the skin or purplish patches in the skin; feeling weak or tired and looking more pale than usual; weight loss quickly unintentionally; swelling or discomfort in the abdomen from a swollen spleen or liver. People with chronic leukemia may not have symptoms.
3. Lung Cancer
Symptoms: cough and mucus and blood mixed with saliva; shortness of breath with activity; repeated infections such as pneumonia and bronchitis; reducing weight unintentionally; aching in shoulder, back, chest, or arm; other abnormal symptoms or signs of general decline in health.
4. Liver Cancer
Symptoms: losing weight without trying; upper abdominal pain; nausea and vomiting; an enlarged liver; pain, abdominal swelling; yellow discoloration of skin and the whites of eyes; white or chalky stools; general weakness and fatigue; loss of appetite.
5. Bladder Cancer
Symptoms: change in bladder habits such as feeling the strong urge to urinate without producing much urine or having to urinate very often; blood in the urine; pain or burning during urination without any evidences of urinary tract infection.
6. Brain Cancer
Symptoms: have long- lasting headaches together with nausea accompanied with blurry vision; feeling weak and clumsy; having difficulty walking; having seizures; changed mental status such as changes in concentration, alertness, memory, or attention; having difficulty with speech.
7. Oral Cancer
Symptoms: swelling in the mouth; there are developments of velvety red, white spots in the mouth; persistent sores or abnormal numbness; loss of feeling or feel sore and tender in any area of the mouth, neck or facial area; unexplained oral bleeding that do not heal within two weeks; having difficulty speaking, chewing, swallowing, or moving the tongue or jaw; experienced a soreness or feel that something is in the back of the throat; hoarseness or change in voice; chronic sore throat; experienced some changes in the way teeth or dentures fit together; unexplained ear pain; unintentionally weight loss.
8. Uterus Cancer
Symptoms: feel lump(s) or swelling in the body with abdominal pain; bleeding after sex; abnormal vaginal bleeding. Bleeding may start very watery then the blood stream flows increasingly.
9. Stomach Cancer
Symptoms, weight decreases quickly without trying to lose weight; vomiting mixes with blood or discharged blood in the stool; abnarmal upset stomach or indigestion that includes a burning sensation or abnormal heartburn; discomfort or pain in the abdomen or a lump or tumor in the abdominal area; weakness and fatigue; loss of appetite; have stomach bloating after meals. Early stomach cancer is difficult to detect.
10. Breast Cancer
Symptoms: a lump in the underarm area; swelling of entirely or part of the breast; breast or nipple pain or the nipple turns inward; a nipple discharge other than breast milk; some redness, or thickening of the nipple or breast skin.
11. Colon Cancer
Symptoms: weight decreases rapidly unintentionally; stomach pain and abnormal digestion; blood mixed in stool; experienced change in skin color (yellow skin color) and the eye color changed (turn white); extreme tiredness or unexplained fatigue; low red blood cell count or low iron in the red blood cells
12. Ovarian Cancer
Symptoms: monthly menstruation is not consistent or abnormal aching; severe lower back pain, nausea, tiredness, and bleeding after many years of not having a period; problem(s) with the intestines; upset indigestion symptoms; unintentionally weight reduction and back pain.
13. Non-specific type of cancer
Broad symptoms for nonspecific type of cancer may include:
•Unintentional Weight Loss: When 10 pounds of weight or more are lost unintentionally; it is a major sign that you are facing some type of illness. Even though weight loss can be good news, it is still necessary to consult your doctor. Extreme weight loss can be a symptom of cancer.
•Chronic Cough: A cough that is persistent with some mixtures of mucus and blood needs to be diagnosed by doctors. Chronic cough with mucus and/or blood can be a symptom of lung cancer disease.
•Pain: Pain, normally, is not an early symptom of cancer, except the type of cancer that spreads to the bone. In most cases pain occurs when cancer spreads to advanced levels and begins to affect other organs and nerves functions.
•Shoulder pain can be one of the symptoms of lung cancer.
•Persistent Fatigue: Fatigue is the most common of cancer symptom experiences, especially when the cancer is more advanced even though it appears in the early stages of some cancers.
•Pain in the form of headaches can be associated with brain cancer or brain tumors.
•Lower back pain. Persistent and abnormal back pain can be a cancer symptom that may be associated with colon cancer or ovarian cancer.
•Bowel Changes: If you experience constipation, diarrhea, blood in the stools, gas, thinner stools, or just a general change in bowel habits, see your doctor. These symptoms are most commonly associated with colon cancer but are also related to other cancer types.
•Stomach pains that happen persistently and frequently can be related to different types of cancer, such as pancreatic cancer and stomach cancer.
• Persistent and frequent fever is a very nonspecific symptom of many mild to severe illnesses that may include cancer. Fevers are commonly related with types of cancer that affects the blood such as lymphoma and leukemia. Fevers are also common in people whose cancer has spread to advanced stages.
Keep in your mind that these symptoms of cancer are very vague. If you have one or more of the symptoms mentioned above, it is not a red flag indicating that you have cancer, but it is a sign for you to visit your doctor to run certain medical tests as soon as possible.
Make an appointment with your doctor if you experience any signs or symptoms that worry you!!
American Association for Cancer Support’s publications are for informational purposes and should not be considered medical advice, diagnosis or treatment recommendations.******
Oral Cancer Self-Examination Early Detaction a Must
By Shockley, Johnna DMD – Comprehensive Dentistry
First the grim, then the good… Did you know that more people die from oral cancers than skin cancer? And because two-thirds of oral cancers are discovered in the late stages of the disease, prognosis is poor – the 5-year survival rate is a frightening 50%. It is imperative, therefore, that oral cancer is detected early, before the disease advances.
With each recall appointment you have with us, we always keep a keen eye for telltale signs like lumps and discoloration, and for suspicious areas or roughness or of any change whatsoever. We check your whole mouth (the top of the tongue and underneath, your lips, cheek lining, and gums). To help your dentist, make sure you play an active role in early detection too. Make it a habit to “know your mouth” and regularly examine it for any changes.
1. Lift your upper lip and check for discoloration or sores on your lips and gums. Then repeat for your lower lip.
2. Check your inner cheeks for white, red, or dark patches. Use your finger to feel the cheek surface for lumps or roughness.
3. Look at the roof of your mouth. Any changes?
4. Check your tongue – top, side, and bottom – for any color changes or swelling.
If you find an area of concern, call your doctor right away. And always remember, like we do … the first step in prevention and successful treatment is awareness.
American Association for Cancer Support’s publications are for informational purposes and should not be considered medical advice, diagnosis or treatment recommendations.
NEW APPROACH IN THE STRUGGLE AGAINST CANCER IS A CALL OF THE TIMES*
1. More than 20 years you headed the Cancer Research Center of Armenia. We know that you are actively doing researches on struggle against cancer now too. Tell more about that, please. Oncology is one of the most multiunit fields of knowledge. This is the study of the cancer causes, its recognition and treatment. I have been working in one and the same direction for 30 years: is it possible to temper a surge of cancer cases rate in some measure?
It is well known, that the cancer epidemic has captured the modern society. According to the World Organization of Public Health, 13-15 million inhabitants of our planet are affected by cancer yearly. The incidence of malignant tumors has increased by 3 percents in Armenia, while 390,000 new cases are registered in the Russian Federation. Each fourth and now even the third inhabitant of our planet dies of cancer. The National Cancer Institute of the USA, which is one of the leaders of the fundamental oncology, recommends to turn the vector of the anticancerogenic struggle aside the preventive maintenance and considers this orientation as priority from many points of view.
This position is not new. Academician N. Blokhin, who headed the All-Union Scientific Center of Oncology and the Academy of Medical Sciences of the USSR, said in 1988 in his Assembly speech: “Is it legitimate to spend huge financial resources budgeted for oncology mainly on the development of the new treatment methods and to continue ignoring scientific and practical issues of prevention?”
2. For a long time it has constantly been told (also in mass media) that not to smoke, not to abuse food with high calories and fats and generally to follow the healthy lifestyle is the main in fight against cancer. It has become paradigmatic truth. There is even a percentage layout of different risk factors. It is very important to limit human exposure to carcinogenic environmental agents. All over the world, about one million chemicals are produced, 10% of which are mutagens and 10% are carcinogens. Small, subliminal doses of radiation attract increased attention; they also undermine the conservatism of heredity. The diagnostic radiation loads have also increased. Pharmaceutical market is flooded with antibiotics, hormonal and chemotherapeutic drugs, some of which are immunosuppressive agents, and thereby they reduce the natural antitumor protection. We should not forget that counteraction to the tumor growth is inherent in the nature of the human organism!
However, it should be noted that decrease of the cancer cases has not occurred even in developed countries where the propaganda of healthy lifestyles has the rank of a state policy. Only the survival rate of cancer patients have increased due to the continuous improvement of the treatment methods. Frankly, the concept of survivability does not impress me, as patients live out one’s days with the pain and discomfort, but such a life holds no pleasure, although this is not our fault, but it is our misfortune. 3. I would like to speak about the early diagnosis. Indeed, it is the most important in the struggle against cancer. The postulate of the World Health Organization “Early diagnosis saves life” still goes from strength to strength.
Early diagnosis has always been and will be taken into consideration as the most important key factor in the struggle against cancer. It gives a chance for a recovery, full convalescence. But it is not a cancer prophylaxis. It is necessary to achieve not early, but ultra-early revelation of tumor in its first stages. The fact is that cancer cells themselves possess potency of the angiogenesis, i.e., they create vessels in order to parasitizing the human body tumor would receive more nutrients. This phenomenon is called “tumor angiogenesis”. Tumor cells forming blood vessels get in a vessel lumen and are disseminated all over the organism. They can exist in a hidden condition for a long time. I have observations based on the endoscopic biopsy materials, when tumor angiogenesis has already been formed in the small tumors, less than one centimeter in diameter. The primary locus may be ablated or cauterized,
thereby we don`t affect undetected focuses of contamination. That is why ultra- early diagnosis, detection of tumor in its first stages, long before its clinical manifestations, is important. The whole difficulty is in the formation of optimal approaches to the organization of oncological services, elaboration of acceptable screening programs for early detection. This concerns the active (and not by medical aid appeal ability of patients) precancerous pathology detection. Timely detection of the cervical erosion, polyps of the digestive, urinary and other systems, chronic inflammatory diseases of the internal organs and etc. is able to prevent malignant degeneration. The wide experience has been accumulated by Soviet public health. A lot of mistakes had been made in the first years of the independence, examination rooms for women were closed, etc. Patients with the manifest tumor process had to undergo a computer-tomography study, but it didn’t help them to relieve from their suffering. A tendency of situation correction takes place now. It is appropriate to mention here that expensive intraskopic and other diagnostic methods should be used with maximum efficiency. It depends on a large extent on the proper organization of the medical care, primary health care physician`s qualification and their oncologic alarm.
4. It is known that the total environmental deterioration influence all people. Some people become ill, whereas others do not.
Why does this or that person, regardless of the property qualification and social status, fall ill with cancer, while another does not? An answer suggests itself: this individual is endowed by nature with a high level of antitumor protection. A cellular and not humoral immunity is brought into the foreground if cancer occurs. Active population of lymphocytes has been discovered long ago, some of them are called the natural killer cells (NK cells). The average 10 000 mutant cells are formed daily in adults and elder people’s organism, some of this cells are potentially cancerous. The killer cells will destroy the altered cells, if they are provided with high lysis ability. Swedish specialist in the optical technology Lennart Nilsson penetrated into the tumor of lungs in a human organism using a special optical probe and then took pictures in dynamics demonstrating how a small lymphocyte (a natural killer) attacks the relatively big tumor cell: thrusts its sting and entirely lyses it. These pictures become known all over the world at Bible name “Fight of David with Goliath”. The author received an honorary doctorate in medicine from Karolinska Institute, and he was awarded with a “small” Nobel Prize. It was the first time Nilsson has shown in such an obvious form in the human pathology and not in an experimental model what the defense forces of the organism are capable on watching over the maintenance of constancy of cellular composition. The key factors of the antitumor protection have sharply been weakened, probably, because of the total environmental deterioration, stress and emotional overuse of present society (they also lead on to immunosuppression), sedentary lifestyle and many others.
5. We have approached the keynote: what are your researches specifically?
I have noted at the beginning of our conversation that I deal with a problem to compensate the weakened anti-tumor resistance mainly. A great number of nonspecific factors which influence the resistance of organism to the tumor growth were discovered. I will try to expound in a simple way the competence of the just specific influence on the key mechanism of the antitumor protection.
The most cardinal distinctive feature of the cancer cell is its immaturity, embryonality. Because of yet unrecognized molecular-biological features, it lost the ability to maturation, i.e. to differentiation. (For example, the epithelial cells of the skin germ, mature, grow old and flake off. The entire skin of the human body is regenerated within a month.) And since cancer cell doesn’t grow old, it doesn’t die off. Being immature, it divides uncontrollably, going out of control integrated homeostatic systems.
Peter Medawar, Nobel Laureate and for long years the Head of Great Britain Medical Research Council developed the doctrine “on intriguing affinity of embryonic and cancer cells”. There is а distinct point of view, which says that there is nothing but embrionization happens when malignancy takes place.
About 150 years ago the German pathologist Cohnheim gave such a view on the tumor origin for the first time. He supposed that all types of the malignant tumors originate from the embryonic cells which have been lost since the intrauterine development.
6. Then, as the saying goes, all new is well forgotten old. In confirmation of you have said I want to refer to an authoritative American cellular pathology guide. Quite recently a question was touched, why in Japan the gastric cancer is widespread and prostate cancer is rare event. On the contrary, in the USA 17% of men are diagnosed with prostate cancer during their life (70% of dead elderly men by the serial microscopic sections), while stomach cancer is a relatively rare pathology. Only one interpretation is adduced, Cohnheim`s cell gets into the stomach wall during embryonal development among Japanese and into the prostate among Americans through some ethnogenetic reasons. I can only quote the words of John Ruskin in this context (Lev Tolstoy often cited him in his famous “Calendar”): “In the opinion of people man, even the most erudite, is as far from genuine knowledge, as an illiterate peasant”.
Researches established that not only children but adults and elderly people have hidden embryonal cell complexes in different parts of their body. There is no need to argue that embryos as well as newborns are more vulnerable to all kinds of pathogenic effects including carcinogenic! Soviet scientist Abelev G.I. was the first to establish that it is necessary to search for hepatoma, nongerminative testicle
cancer or other tumors if alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) has been appeared in the blood of adults. What is the AFP? It is a normal protein which is produced by the embryo. It disappears after birth, and if this protein is reappeared in the blood after decades, then we must search for malignancy. Therefore, the AFP and other proteins of embryonic origin are listed as tumor markers. Indeed, humoral tests for the tumor markers identification are very sensitive.
Please, ponder over this phenomenon: normal embryonic proteins appear in the blood when neoplastic growth begins in the organism! This was the starting point of our theoretical, experimental and clinical researches. Truly, the Cohnheim theory is old but not obsolete.
7. What is the know-how in your approach, specifically? Can you tell at greater length about that?
We have discovered usual normal fetal proteins on the surface of cultured cancer cells of various origin by fluorescent antibodies. A biological substance containing a wide pool of normal fetal proteins and proteoglycans (a complex protein, united with glycosaminoglycans, in particular, hyaluronic acid) was received. Many therapeutic cancer vaccines created in the West contain carcinoembryonic antigens as the active principle, whereas we have received a pool of embryonic proteins from the normal (healthy) human embryonic substances and not from ablated tumor tissue. It is proved matter that they sensitize, accommodate killer cells to fight against the permanently emerging mutant, potentially cancerous cells. This is extremely important, because nobody knows in whose organism, when and where the first malignant cells will arise, and it is years since they will let know about themselves.
Our conclusion about the preventive effects of the received natural substance is based on the multiple repeated experiment results. One group of laboratory animals received violently acting chemical carcinogen and all animals (100%) were affected by malignant neoplasm in three and half months. We injected a small dose of our preparation to another group previously. Malignant formations weren’t detected in 45% of animals. And this wasn’t a prolongation of latent period at that, but a full prevention of tumor growth in long-term observed animals (by the way, these additional experiments were conducted following the academician Abelev recommendation). Head of the Interferon Department of the Gamaleya Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology of the Russian Medical Sciences Academy, Ershov F.I. on this occasion said: “The important system of proofs of the cancer vaccines new generation reality was adduced, they are promising for prevention of malignant tumors”.
A Patent of the Russian Federation “Embryonic antitumor modulator of Mkrtchyan, mode of extraction and application (EATM)” had been issued. We have a Registration Certificate of the Federal Service for Health Sphere Supervision (FSHSS) of the Ministry of Health and Social Development of the Russian Federation. Our research has been also awarded the insignia of Western countries (UK, U.S., China, Belgium, Switzerland, etc.).
8. Does it turn out that you rely on the natural defense mechanisms of anti-tumor growth resistance solely?
I want to give a more precise definition. The matter is malignant tumor prevention, stimulation of the pathogenesis substantiated antitumor protection, which is inherent in the nature of the human organism.
All metabolic including immunological processes, taking their course “themselves”, have been crystallized, harmonized for millions of years and not always brook crude, so to say manual interference. Medicine experience has taught us many lessons in this regard.
English physician Edward Jenner inoculated people with cow-pox vaccine and thereby saving hundreds of thousands of people from this viral outbreak long before the bacteria, especially viruses were discovered. His discovery has survived centuries. Smallpox is a unique disease, which is eradicated from the face of the Earth due to vaccination.
Probably, there is no more achievement in the people health protection. Have synthetic drugs, other therapeutic agents and the most advanced diagnostic equipment reduced thromboembolic and cancer pathology? 70% of people die from infarction, cerebral stroke and cancer. I want to refer to the following analogy. The famous physician of the medieval Armenia Mkhitar Heratsi (the Yerevan State Medical University is named after him) wrote: “Treat the opposite with opposite and give pleasure to the patient”. Not without reason the popular wisdom, which has been the most sensitive barometer at all times, did not evade this truth. The scientific homeopathy is based on it. There is a profound philosophical meaning in it. Evolution by itself has elaborated a protective reaction to the irritant. In Mikhail Bulgakov`s novel Woland recommends Likhodeyev (who had a hangover) “to treat similar with similar”. Introduction of homeopathic doses of our medicine is the slightest push to bring the immune system into a higher state of readiness. The subsequent cascade of immunologic and other opposing reactions is regulated by the organism through protective − adaptive mechanisms which were elaborated by the evolution.
About one hundred oncogenes were discovered. They present in each person’s organism. Influence on them is unpredictable. Hence we should only urge the immune system by the physiologically substantiated, time-tested way to attack the first cancer cells before they will create a sustainable community and will form a tumor angiogenesis. It is the most justified and absolutely harmless approach to the preventive oncology under the condition of current total environmental deterioration.
9. Methodological and scientific approaches to assessing the influence of environmental factors on the human health are permanently improving. Are sanitation and safety standards a subject to the critical comprehension? When I was a Director of the Cancer Research Center of the Public Health Ministry of Armenia, our staff took air samples for the benz-a-pyrene quantitation at Yerevan crossroads with heavy traffic. As it is known, benz-a-pyrene is a strong carcinogen. Its content in the air samples was tested in Moscow, in the laboratory of Academician Shabad L.M. The concentration of benz-a-pyrene was much higher than permissible. Within the five-kilometer area of high-altitude Armenian nuclear power station our biophysicists were growing carrot, which is responsive to the tumor growth. If tumor-like outgrowths on the mature carrots practically were absent within a remote area, then in the marked radius there was 3-4 times as much. Defined risk for human habitation near the nuclear power station is obvious. Formerly, slight exposure to mutation was neglected; a long latent period (10 years and more) is typical of radiation carcinogenesis. According to the Kurchatov Institute and Institute of Hygiene of Environment after Sysin, in the West the effective radiation dose in the control area doesn’t exceed 0.01 mSv per year, what is far less than our prescribed maximum permissible dose. I have already said that hundreds of thousands of chemical compounds are produced in the world, the fifth part of which is mutagens and carcinogens. It is impossible to stop scientific and technological advance. Nuclear technologies are developing, genetically modified foods have appeared, preservatives are ubiquitous, every family wants to have a car, and emotional overuse is an inherent part of our life. What must be done? It’s impossible to live and work thinking only about the disease! I remember the dramatist in the House of Writers in Peredelkino, who shown the interest in these questions. “It turns out that life is harmful!”- He exclaimed.
But seriously, it should be quoted from the Director of the N.N. Blokhin Cancer Research Center Academician Davidov M.I.: “At last it must be admitted that prevention is of paramount importance to struggle against the most common diseases and we must move from declarations to action”. 10. I would like to know how the excesses of modern life influence human health.
What about the excesses I will refer to Socrates: “Nothing too much.” Just three words, but very capacious. Krupp –elder turned to Virchov for advice. He was a martyr to gout, which is a disease of rich men. Virchov advised him to “live on three marks a day and earn them himself”. It is a burning issue for some categories of people. It is hard to resist the temptations and excesses of modern life, especially in that places where the civilized norms of behavior have not became well-established.
Diseases, which are generated by civilization, are under intensively examination. High levels of cholesterol and sugar, inactivity lead not only to the cardiovascular diseases, but also predispose to malignant neoplasms.
What else can I say? We must live simply and think loftily.
11. Let us talk about such an important component of the fight against cancer, as the economic aspect of the problem. The cost of diagnostic and therapeutic procedures is rising increasingly. A huge budget funds are spending for the purchase of CT scanners and other expensive equipment, anticancer drugs. One of the most prestigious centers of proton therapy functions in Loma Linda (Southern California). The cost of treatment is about 30 thousand dollars. In the U.S., according to mass media reports, the first in the world prostate cancer vaccine Provenge was created. It is destined for the patients with prostate cancer at the late stages of the disease. The vaccine is adapted individually for each patient, and its cost is 69 thousand dollars. I refer to the leading specialists of the St. Petersburg Institute of Oncology after Petrov: “The cost of treatment of one colorectal cancer patient, which amounted to 500 dollars in 1999, now increased to 250.000 dollars”. And pharmaceutical companies have brought the cost of one new anticancer drug creation to 800 million dollars. The numerals are astronomical. A quantity of patients with uncompleted treatment and denied medical care has not become less. All this puts a heavy burden on the state and private funds of citizens.
12. Often in the mass media it is reported about nearly miracle cure against cancer. How justified is it? Sensational tone in the struggle against cancer will not be appropriate still for a long time. Cancer and sarcoma is a group conception, which includes about 150 various forms. Both of the breast cancer and prostate cancer are hormone-dependent neoplasms, but they are absolutely different tumors according to their histogenesys and progression way. One very authoritative oncologist said: “We must have no illusions about the fact that one day a remedy curing all kinds of cancer will be found”. This was said long ago. But in recent times three American university centers established a special clone of cancer stem cells, which increase their aggressiveness a thousand times greater under the influence of chemotherapy.
I don’t want to incur the chemotherapeutists displeasure, I think they will not misunderstand me. The matter is well-known (not to physicians only) negative consequences of drug therapy. There are a lot of nosological forms of cancer and systemic blood diseases in which chemotherapy is the one and only hope for recovery and as a rule only it relieves the sufferer’s state.
At the same time it is necessary to take into account the fact that the tumor is monoclonal only in the initial stage. Then new blastemas appeared in the struggle for existence (against both internal and external antitumor effects). Only some of the polyclonal tumor cells were destroyed by target chemotherapy.
Based on this fact and on the phenomenon of the increase of tumor cells tumorigenicity under the influence of chemotherapy, the journal of U.S. National Cancer Institute (JNCI) brings utterance in respect of the treatment for manifest tumors, i.e., tumors beyond control of integrated systems: “Trying to find ways to treat cancer stem cells is like trying to close the barn door after the horse is out”.
13. It turns out that you are also in pessimistic mood regarding the cancer treatment?
It is not quite so. Scores of patients have been cured, completely recovered thanks to timely diagnosis, surgery and chemo-radiation treatment. This relates also to the children’s cancer. But if the number of cases increases, then thereby the problem, of course, will not be solved. It is necessary along with the permanent improvement of diagnosis and complex therapy methods to devote so much attention to the prevention, trying to save from this severe disease as many people as possible.
Unfortunately, the cancer prevention remains a “Cinderella” in oncology. Still there is an unhealthy corporate interest in medicine and in the pharmaceutical industry.
Intellectual potential and financial resources should be redirected toward the preventive oncology, the active destruction and elimination of the very first cancer cells by compensation of weakened immunological resistance. The eminent soviet pathologist Hippolyte V. Davidovsky said: “Everyone bears his own small cancer, but doesn’t survive till its manifestation”. This warning has became special topical nowadays.
14. What tumors exactly does EATM prevent or it has a wide prevention range? What is its method of application? This is the most important issue. As I have already mentioned, all kinds of malignant tumors have a common cardinal feature: they consist of embryonic immature cells.
Our substance is directed against exactly these yet sporadic cells. I.e., it is endowed, to a certain extent, with a universal preventive antitumor activity. I say, to a certain extent, since opinions in absolute categories are illegitimate in oncology.
EATM is injected to people from high oncological risk groups in a very small dose (0,002 grams) subcutaneously once a year. It is similar to a preventive antitumor vaccine by many parameters (there are a lot of recombinant, genetically modified, protein, viral and other anti-cancer therapeutic vaccines at present).
Last summer in Malaysia the regular Congress of the World Academy of Medicine took place. I had a great honor to make a speech at the forum and to hear opinions about the pathogenetic validity of the proposed active medicobiological cancer prevention and its social significance. By the way, this was sole presentation from the former Soviet Union countries, which contributed at this Congress.
15. What are the main difficulties in both the research respect and the promotion of a new fundamental approach to the anticancer struggle? Now it has become call of the times.
The main difficulty consists in the nature of cancer. Cancer cell in fully has adopted holy of holies of a biological species ability – to adapt and to sire. Our research platform is based on the fact that cancer cell may arise, get implanted in the human body and, the more, to propagate only in the event if it is able to protect reliably oneself from the attacking factors of immunity.
Simulating the developing embryo it escapes from the immune surveillance and creates for itself privileged conditions. There is even a figure of speech: “The most-favoured immunological status manifests to the developing fetus”. That’s why the evening-out of the immune tolerance and malignant growth indulgence is the most important object of the preventive oncology!
As for the promotion, it is no less difficult question. Often the new is dismissed, so to say, out of hand because of its novelty. There are many bureaucratic obstacles, too. The EATM is absolutely harmless natural substance. This was proved in strictly compliance with all requirements, including the European Union standards. I think that it is legitimate to show a differentiated approach to harmless natural substances and highly toxic drugs, which are manufactured in both injectable and tablet forms.
All of us: scientists, pharmaceutical company workers and the administrative arrangements must take the insistent appeals “to restore the leading traditions of the therapeutic schools – preventive health care” seriously. The phrase of the great Pirogov has become catchphrase: “Prevention pound is equal to treatment pound”. In conclusion, I deem it is necessary to note that estimates of Cancer Registers portend a doubling of cancer incidence by the year 2030. From many points of view, including economic, struggle against cancer ranks as one of the urgent social problems.
We can’t set hope only on innovative approaches to the disclosure of nature of the disease. Our view of the nature of malignant transformation became more complicated by discovery of genes in malignant tumors, which are characteristic of our ancient ancestors living hundreds of millions of years ago. In other words, cancer is an atavism. Unexpected result was the ascertainment of the influence of “niche” of cancer cells on their further fate.
Consequently, there is an urgent necessity to find effective means for protecting people against this insidious disease on the base of already acquired knowledge.
*Interview with the President of Academy of Medical Sciences of Armenia, Foreign Member of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences, Honored Science Worker, Professor Levon Mkrtchyan
Interviewer: Alexey V. Shvets, PhD in Biology, the General Director of ISSI Strategy Company (JSC) – test of medications according to EU standards
Initial Symptoms of Cancer