To understand the future of something or someone, it is good to understand their past or their history. How many of us are aware of the history of chemotherapy?
I was not aware until I became passionately invested in seeing clients with a cancer diagnosis change their lifestyles and support their bodies nutritionally, emotionally, and spiritually during their healing journey.
After WWII, some doctors were analyzing tissue samples of men who died after being exposed to mustard gas, a toxic chemical compound used in chemical warfare. After analyzing these tissue samples, they wondered if it would have any impact on tumors in humans.
Thus, the trial and error, guessing game of what toxic chemotherapy agents would kill cancer cells the fastest (before destroying the immune system, digestive system, and eventually the entire body), began. It was birthed out of a war, out of toxic chemical warfare.
In the 1940’s, cancer researchers did not have a good understanding of what cancer was and how it developed in the body, much less a systematic approach of studying cancer. However, in desperation, attention was given to chemotherapy and these toxic chemical warfare agents.
The idea of using mustard gas and other chemotherapy agents was highly controversial when it was first introduced and many doctors were opposed to the concept. The minority of doctors and cancer researchers first pursued this avenue.
The reality is that children were the first to sign up for trials with chemotherapy. Their parents signed a waiver, releasing their rights and agreeing to chemotherapy. The first human trial was conducted. After the cancer seemingly disappeared, one by one, the children came back with the cancer cells spreading to the brain. In the end, every child involved in the first human trial died.
After this experience, many doctors walked away entirely from the idea of using chemotherapy in treating cancer. However, others persisted. A new idea of rotating chemotherapy agents was introduced. The idea was that the body would not be as devastated by one toxic chemotherapy agent as it would be to a rotation of toxic chemotherapy agents.
This seemed to allow patients to live longer throughout the treatment and survive long enough to receive their treatments. However, many did not make it through the human trials.
In the 1980’s, chemotherapy was analyzed statistically by Bailer. With an objective lens and no financial ties to the chemotherapy industry, Bailer found that since chemotherapy was introduced in the 1950’s, 4% were saved by chemotherapy. Further, the death toll from cancer had increased by 9% since the 1950’s. Something clearly was wrong with the approach.
Some quick facts about chemotherapy:
· First chemotherapy agent was mustard gas, a toxic chemical warfare agent banned from being used in WWII because of it’s toxic affect on the human body
· Started being developed in the 1940’s prior to understanding mechanisms behind cancer and tumor growth
· Statistics are frequently manipulated and are presented in the following manner:
o Cure is defined as a 5-year survival rate, if someone is alive 5 years and 2 weeks after they are first diagnosed, they are included in the survival rate statistics
o Certain ethnic groups are frequently not included in survival rates with white only percentages presented
o If patients die before full prescribed treatment rounds of chemotherapy are finished, they may be deleted from the study and eliminated from statistics
o Statistics are adjusted for “expected mortality outcomes,” for example, if someone dies after being diagnosed and during treatment, they could have also died from a car accident
o Many times, the percentage of tumor shrinkage is presented instead of survival rates even though tumors shrinking are not necessary linked to survival rates
· 1986: McGill Cancer Center: Scientists surveyed 118 oncologists who specialize in lung cancer. Asked if they would take chemo if they developed lung cancer and ¾ of the oncologists replied no, they would not take chemo. Reclaiming our health by John Robbins 1996
· 5-year survival data from US National Cancer Institute's Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) registry from 1990 until January 2004: 2.1% survival rate in the US and 2.3% survival rate in Australia with using chemotherapy
Some people invested in using chemotherapy lashed out at Bailer and rejected his findings although they were found to be completely sound and ethical. Others, seeing the dismal results of chemotherapy, moved on to study targeted gene therapy and cancer; the next big thing in cancer research.
Chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery remained the primary approach of oncologists in the Western Medical world. Cancer research shifted focus to finding oncogenes involved in cancer and developing drugs that would target these genes.
However, after much research, millions of dollars, and many years, targeted gene therapy showed a similar disappointment. The genes involved in cancer showed no cohesive pattern to follow. Instead, the genetic components involved in different cases appeared as distinct and unique as a fingerprint.
Unfortunately, few doctors have taken the approach of starting with what is cancer and why has it developed in the body before recommending treatment protocols. However, this is why I love holistic treatment options for cancer. The whole person is taken into consideration. Our understanding of the characteristics of cancer, why it develops in the body, and what are potential root causes to tumor development are taken into consideration.
In the coming weeks, we will look at some great approaches to cancer to gain an understanding of options that may be better for some who want to connect with the root cause of their diagnosis and approach treatment in a less toxic manner.