Kathryn E. Vinson, MS, CCRC
A few months back in “The Single Cure Myth,” we talked about the sad fact that as technology stands today, there isn’t likely to be a single cure for all types of cancer – as cancer is a collection of scores of diseases, with different causes and different mechanisms.
Here is a very loose analogy – think about our cars. Say that the fuel pump in my car goes out, while the fuel cell in your car goes out. Both have to do with the energy that makes the vehicle run – but they operate on very different principles. What fixes my car won’t fix your’s. With cancers – they are similar in that they involve out of control growth of cells, but what was used to cure my papillary thyroid cancer won’t work on breast cancer.
Recently, my social media feed has been blown up by the latest “news” of a single cure for cancer that is being developed in Israel. Let me begin by saying that I have not seen any data on this compound. A perusal of the website for the company that claims to have this in development revealed no news releases or links to data. Indeed, Forbes reports that little to no data on this trial have been supplied to the scientific community for review – we only have information that is essential a press release. What I want to talk about today is what we need to take away from this news. This is strictly my opinion on this and is in no way making light of the research that is being conducted, nor does it represent an official opinion by Cancer Horizons.
If it sounds too good to be true…
We all know the old saying, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If there is one takeaway from our talk today, that’s what I want you to understand. I know I sounds incredibly cynical, but let’s take this one bit of info at a time.
According to the articles linked below, the company in Israel has announced that they are in the pre-clinical development stage of a product that will be able to cure all cancers, and even within a year.
Personally, I feel that it borders on irresponsibility to make such grand claims about a compound that has only been studied in mice. While I’m sure that this company is thrilled by their work and the successes that they have seen in pre-clinical work, the claims that are reported seem to be “jumping the gun” in my opinion.
We all personally know the emotional impact that cancer has on us as patients, survivors, family members, friends, and caregivers. I hate for emotions to be played with, and that is what I see happening in many closed cancer groups on Facebook. Such excitement and hope is being generated that we are “just around the corner.”
Human trials, once started, can take years – even when being expedited due to life saving potential. In order to begin clinical trials in the United States, the application for “Investigational New Drug” status takes at best 30 days – and that is if the FDA doesn’t require any changes or more/clarifying information. To say that this treatment could be ready in a year is quite the stretch. If you’re interested in learning more about the drug approval process, take a look at “What’s the Hold-Up?”
Other red flags for me in this article include the following quotes:
- The treatment “target(s) cancer stem cells, eliminating the chance for recurrence.”
- “…eliminating the chances of evasion through mutation.”
- “…no or minimal side effects.”
Statements like these using terms such as “eliminating the chances,” “no side-effects,” and “complete cure for cancer” feel too definite to me. How can you know that there will be little to no side-effects without having human trials? I have been trained over many years of experience in both research and healthcare to not use words that guarantee anything. You can say, “We hope,” or “Ideally,” but you don’t make promises that might not be able to be kept.
Sadly, this news makes me think of the snake oil salesman of a century ago. I know this has been a bit of a downer of an article, so I want to leave you with a giggle. Since reading these posts, I’ve had the great Ray Stevens singing about “Jeremiah Peabody” stuck in my head, so I thought I’d share this little earworm. Enjoy.
All this being said, my dear friends, I pray that I’m 100% wrong. I’m hopeful, but skeptical.
As always, much love, many prayers, and abundant blessings to all of the warriors out there!