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What makes cancer cure so elusive?

What exactly is cancer and the its root causes? Why is modern science not able to find a cure? We find more and more of this generation dying of cancer and the only thing medicine can offer if at all is palliative care.

Why is a cure so elusive?
Have we failed to understand the root cause?
Have we been so irresponsible to lead a life conducive to this disease?
Have we failed to notice something so very evident?
Have we failed to collaborate amongst cross functional groups who can put their minds together and find a solution?


Closing Statement from STV V

Thank you to all of you and especially to TED which has enabled people from multiple geographies and disciplines to talk about a subject! We have Kevin Tinholt (Biotech - Netherlands) , Krisztián Pintér ( software programmer, Hungary) , Yale Wang ( Environmentalist and Social worker from Canada ), David Juan ( MD from US) , Peter Lindsay ( Physics - Austrailia) talk about this topic..

I have summed up the inputs from all of you below! Its nice to hear that atleast some types of cancer are curable! I hope more will follow and the Government support for these increase. I hope we find a cure soon!

  • Apr 16 2012: The root cause of cancer is the too much acidity in the body, meaning that the pH in the body is below the normal level of 7.365 which constitute an acidic state. Cancer cells mainten and thrive in a low pH, due to lactic acid production and elevated CO2.
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    Apr 3 2012: Cancer can't be related to diseases such as smallpox. You'd be better of relating it to the common cough. Like the common cold you can treat it, make it so it goes away, however as you know every season it is likely to come back. Such is cancer, it is something that can't be treated once, once you have it it is yours for life. As cancer cells don't actually age you see, they are immortal in a sense.

    Cancer is something that happens to us everyday. Everyday there are a couple of cells that just go defunct and start going rampage. Luckily your body is able to get rid of these malignant cells and leave you stay healthy person you are.

    The best thing we can do for a cure right now is get rid of the cancerous manifestation and make it so that it never comes back in this particular form. Until someone has found a treatment that is full proof there is no cure for cancer.

    There are various groups trying to cure cancer, and most of this research is sponsored by non-profit organisations (governments don't fund research at all, which doesn't help). However, this research is quite expensive, sometimes up to a billion for a single drug, hence the reason why there is a lot of secrecy and patenting, hence the problem.
    • STV V

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      Apr 14 2012: Perhaps Government funding and regulations might help.. But if there are lifestyle changes we need to do now to prevent this , the least we could do is possibly spread awareness...
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    May 2 2012: Wo do have cures for some forms of cancer but an overall "cure for cancer" isn't practical as there are many different varieties that have many different causes and affect many different cell types. An overall cure for cancer is like looking for an overall cure for viruses. On current numbers there are over 200 different types of cancer it isn't one disease.
    • STV V

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      May 2 2012: What are the different types - are you referring to those affecting different parts of the body - like SKIN/ Pancreas/ Bone which have different cell types ?
      Which are the ones where a cure is possible?
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        May 3 2012: The most successful cure is probably bone marrow transplant for leukemia. For some varieties survival rates have gone from almost zero to 80%.
        While the genetic changes that cause a cancer occur in only a few varieties, the different cell types are genetically damaged in many different ways (chemical, radiation, physical trauma) due to their different characteristics and on top of that each different cell type responds differently to any one treatment. In a human body there are about 210 different cell types, thats why there are four different types of skin cancer for example.
  • STV V

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    Apr 17 2012: Cancer is caused by mutations and altered gene expression, in a process called malignant transformation, resulting in an uncontrolled growth of cells. The root cause of the disease and why its cure is so elusive

    A summary of all your inputs so far,,,,,
    * Cancer cells always exist in us and our immune system fights it.The immune system is weakened by carcinogens, sleep deprivation etc and we have not understood why multiple defence mechanisms fail

    * Its difficult to isolate cancer cells and destroy them without killing good cells

    * Cancer cells are kind of immortal and can only be managed and not fully removed ( with today's awareness)

    * Research is expensive and mostly funded by NGOs and not the Governmemt.

    * Most current medical drugs available have horrible side effects. ALternative medicene has not been proved yet.
    * There are more than 200 varieties of cancer and some are curable

    * Some of the probable theories on origin of cancer include:

    1. Both environment and genetic factors
    2. Acidity - Cancer cells thrive on a low PH
    3. Glycolysis of oxygen-deprived cells through the Warburg effect
    4. Bodily energies
    5. Viral mechanisms
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    Apr 16 2012: super briefly
    "Why is a cure so elusive?"
    because cancer cells are our own body cells except misbehaving. hard to find anything that kills them but does not kill other cells.

    "What exactly is cancer and the its root causes? "
    we will understand it if we understand cell functionality on molecular level much better. it is immensely complex. in layman's terms, cancer cells regress to single-cellular "barbarism". multiple defensive mechanism have to fail to get away with it. we don't understand why does it happen, what defense mechanisms there are, why they fail, and how can we repair them.
  • Apr 5 2012: Cancer cells always exist in a human body, and our natural ability to fight cancer is part of the immune system, compromised by such things as carcinogens, sleep deprivation, etc. We hear about new advances almost every week, yet most don't get any press attention because they are always preliminary. Asprin, for example, was recently found to have anti-cancer properties, but doctors do not recommend taking Asprin just to lower your cancer risk! There are also drugs available, derived from such plants as the vinca seed (leukemia) and the yew tree (a compound that reduces most cancers), that are being incorporated into regimens such as chemotherapy. Yet most of those treatments have horrible side effects.

    There are many theories concerning the origins of cancer. These include glycolysis of oxygen-deprived cells through the Warburg effect, the trophoblast, rising incidence related to better healthcare and more old-age diseases due to higher life expectancy, processes related to stem cells, viral mechanisms, bodily energy, and a natural consequence of aging and teleromeres, seeing that 1/5 of people who die from natural causes do so from cancer. There are both genetic and environmental factors, as well as random ones, and the process of hormesis such that people who are routinely exposed to low radiation levels, for examples, suffer less severe health effects over time.

    There are potentially many venues of research, but it has evolved into a multi-billion-dollar industry focused largely on the promotion of pharmaceuticals often carrying deleterious toxic compounds. Attacking just the cancer and not the rest of the body is typically highly inefficient. This of course has led to accusations of profit-mongering and a charge by often-discredited natropathic 'experts' that big agencies are covering up natural cures that are already capable of curing cancer--nothing has been proven for certain.
    • STV V

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      Apr 14 2012: Thank you so much for the detailed reply. The root cause of the elusiveness seems he business sadly though.