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Old 03-28-2015, 08:11 AM   #1
Mtngrl
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Join Date: May 2011
Location: Denver, CO
Posts: 1,427
Understanding Cancer

I'm someone who believes that knowledge is power. Today I did a quick internet search for a resource on cancer, and found an excellent one. It's based on science. It's comprehensive. And despite the fact that it appears to be 52 pages long in "reading mode," the text is only 28 (short) pages. There are lots of illustrations.

The back matter includes a list of references and an extensive glossary.

I'm working on a PhD in social ethics. I was surprised and pleased to see that this paper addresses ethics and ethical decision making. It completely misses some important ethical considerations, but it's an excellent start.

I'm posting this because I think knowing more about what cancer is can help us think about it and respond to it in more helpful, healthful ways than we would without that knowledge. For example, if you run across some supplement or diet or other "cure" for cancer, you will read that with an understanding that cancer is not one disease but 100s of diseases, and that any given person's cancer is a product of his or her genetics, environment, lifestyle, age, sex, and probably many other factors. How can something so heterogeneous and complex have a simple, one-size-fits-all solution?

Here's the link: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NB...?report=reader
__________________
Amy
_____________________________
4/19/11 Diagnosed invasive ductal carcinoma in left breast; 2.3 cm tumor, 1 axillary lymph node, weakly ER+, HER2+++
4/29/11 CT scan shows suspicious lesions on liver and lungs
5/17/11 liver biopsy
5/24/11 liver met confirmed--Stage IV at diagnosis
5/27/11 Begin weekly Taxol & Herceptin for 3 months (standard of care at the time of my DX)
7/18/11 Switch to weekly Abraxane & Herceptin due to Taxol allergy
8/29/11 CT scan shows no new lesions & old lesions shrinking
9/27/11 Finish Abraxane. Start Herceptin every 3 weeks. Begin taking Arimidex
10/17/11--Brain MRI--No Brain mets
12/5/11 PET scan--Almost NED
5/15/12 PET scan shows progression-breast/chest/spine (one vertebra)
5/22/12 Stop taking Arimidex; stay on Herceptin
6/11/12 Started Tykerb and Herceptin on clinical trial (w/no chemo)
9/24/12 CT scan--No new mets. Everything stable.
3/11/13 CT Scan--two small new possible mets and odd looking area in left lung getting larger.
4/2/13--Biopsy of suspicious area in lower left lung. Mets to lung confirmed.
4/30/13 Begin Kadcyla/TDM-1
8/16/13 PET scan "mixed," with some areas of increased uptake, but also some definite improvement, so I'll stay on TDM-1/Kadcyla.
11/11/13 Finally get hormone receptor results from lung biopsy of 4/2/13. My cancer is no longer ER positive.
11/13/13 PET scan mixed results again. We're calling it "stable." Problems breathing on exertion.
2/18/14 PET scan shows a new lesion and newly active lymph node in chest, other progression. Bye bye TDM-1.
2/28/14 Begin Herceptin/Perjeta every 3 weeks.
6/8/14 PET "mixed," with no new lesions, and everything but lower lungs improving. My breathing is better.
8/18/14 PET "mixed" again. Upper lungs & one spine met stable, lower lungs less FDG avid, original tumor more avid, one lymph node in mediastinum more avid.
9/1/14 Begin taking Xeloda one week on, one week off. Will also stay on Herceptin and Perjeta every three weeks.
12/11/14 PET Scan--no new lesions, and everything looks better than it did.
3/20/15 PET Scan--no new lesions, but lower lung lesions larger and a bit more avid.
4/13/15 Increasing Xeloda dose to 10 days on, one week off.
7/1/15 Scan "mixed" again, but suggests continuing progression. Stop Xeloda. Substitute Abraxane every 3 weeks starting 7/13.
10/28/15 PET scan shows dramatic improvement everywhere. All lesions except lower lungs have resolved; lower lungs noticeably improved.
12/18/15 Last Abraxane. Continue on Herceptin and Perjeta alone beginning 1/8/16.
1/27/16 PET scan shows cancer is stable.
5/11/16 PET scan shows uptake in some areas that were resolved on the last two scans.
6/3/16 Begin Kadcyla and Tykerb combination
6/5 - 6/23 Horrible diarrhea from K&T together. Got pneumonia.
7/15/16 Begin Kadcyla only every 3 weeks.
9/6/16 Begin radiation therapy on right lung lesion that caused the pneumonia.
10/3/16 Last of 12 radiation treatments to right lung.
11/4/16 Huffing and puffing, low O2, high heart rate, on tiniest bit of exertion. Diagnosed as radiation pneumonitis. Treated with Prednisone.
11/11/16 PET scan shows significant improvement to radiated part of right lung BUT a bunch of new lung lesions, and the bone met is getting worse.
11/22/16 Begin Eribulin and Herceptin. H every 3 weeks. E two weeks on, one week off.
3/6/17 Scan shows progression in lungs. Bone met a little better.
3/23/17 Lung biopsy. Tumor sampled is ER-, PR+ (5%), HER2+++. Getting Herceptin and Perjeta as a maintenance treatment.
5/31/17 Port placement
6/1/17 Start Navelbine & Tykerb
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Old 03-28-2015, 11:39 AM   #2
AlaskaAngel
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Posts: 2,012
Re: Understanding Cancer

Thanks Mtngrl - you stated the question very well. While I can appreciate the concept of individualized targeting of cancer, I don't see what the mechanism would be that would make it practical (financially) to then design each individually tailored "stuff" (drug?) to suit each patient's multiple diverse individual characteristics.

Maybe I'm just not bright enough to understand the entire picture?

A.A.
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Old 03-28-2015, 12:36 PM   #3
Mtngrl
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Join Date: May 2011
Location: Denver, CO
Posts: 1,427
Re: Understanding Cancer

Hi A.A.,

You're plenty bright. I may not have done a good job explaining why I posted this.

I was thinking more in terms of people not looking for some magic bullet that will "win" the "war on cancer." Or, more to the point, I wanted to say that those of us who have or had cancer should not think there's "one weird trick" that will cure it or keep it from coming back.

I completely agree it's hard to imagine a cost-effective way to tailor each cancer patient's treatment to his or her specific cancer. And yet, what we're doing now isn't all that cost effective either. In a very real sense, every cancer case is unique, just as every human being is unique. Even identical twins eventually experience epigenetic changes that make their bodies different.

It appears that with cancer, the best return on investment is with prevention. I think this article strongly implies that public policy and social norms are more effective than trying to fix cancer after it occurs.

Thanks for reading and commenting!
__________________
Amy
_____________________________
4/19/11 Diagnosed invasive ductal carcinoma in left breast; 2.3 cm tumor, 1 axillary lymph node, weakly ER+, HER2+++
4/29/11 CT scan shows suspicious lesions on liver and lungs
5/17/11 liver biopsy
5/24/11 liver met confirmed--Stage IV at diagnosis
5/27/11 Begin weekly Taxol & Herceptin for 3 months (standard of care at the time of my DX)
7/18/11 Switch to weekly Abraxane & Herceptin due to Taxol allergy
8/29/11 CT scan shows no new lesions & old lesions shrinking
9/27/11 Finish Abraxane. Start Herceptin every 3 weeks. Begin taking Arimidex
10/17/11--Brain MRI--No Brain mets
12/5/11 PET scan--Almost NED
5/15/12 PET scan shows progression-breast/chest/spine (one vertebra)
5/22/12 Stop taking Arimidex; stay on Herceptin
6/11/12 Started Tykerb and Herceptin on clinical trial (w/no chemo)
9/24/12 CT scan--No new mets. Everything stable.
3/11/13 CT Scan--two small new possible mets and odd looking area in left lung getting larger.
4/2/13--Biopsy of suspicious area in lower left lung. Mets to lung confirmed.
4/30/13 Begin Kadcyla/TDM-1
8/16/13 PET scan "mixed," with some areas of increased uptake, but also some definite improvement, so I'll stay on TDM-1/Kadcyla.
11/11/13 Finally get hormone receptor results from lung biopsy of 4/2/13. My cancer is no longer ER positive.
11/13/13 PET scan mixed results again. We're calling it "stable." Problems breathing on exertion.
2/18/14 PET scan shows a new lesion and newly active lymph node in chest, other progression. Bye bye TDM-1.
2/28/14 Begin Herceptin/Perjeta every 3 weeks.
6/8/14 PET "mixed," with no new lesions, and everything but lower lungs improving. My breathing is better.
8/18/14 PET "mixed" again. Upper lungs & one spine met stable, lower lungs less FDG avid, original tumor more avid, one lymph node in mediastinum more avid.
9/1/14 Begin taking Xeloda one week on, one week off. Will also stay on Herceptin and Perjeta every three weeks.
12/11/14 PET Scan--no new lesions, and everything looks better than it did.
3/20/15 PET Scan--no new lesions, but lower lung lesions larger and a bit more avid.
4/13/15 Increasing Xeloda dose to 10 days on, one week off.
7/1/15 Scan "mixed" again, but suggests continuing progression. Stop Xeloda. Substitute Abraxane every 3 weeks starting 7/13.
10/28/15 PET scan shows dramatic improvement everywhere. All lesions except lower lungs have resolved; lower lungs noticeably improved.
12/18/15 Last Abraxane. Continue on Herceptin and Perjeta alone beginning 1/8/16.
1/27/16 PET scan shows cancer is stable.
5/11/16 PET scan shows uptake in some areas that were resolved on the last two scans.
6/3/16 Begin Kadcyla and Tykerb combination
6/5 - 6/23 Horrible diarrhea from K&T together. Got pneumonia.
7/15/16 Begin Kadcyla only every 3 weeks.
9/6/16 Begin radiation therapy on right lung lesion that caused the pneumonia.
10/3/16 Last of 12 radiation treatments to right lung.
11/4/16 Huffing and puffing, low O2, high heart rate, on tiniest bit of exertion. Diagnosed as radiation pneumonitis. Treated with Prednisone.
11/11/16 PET scan shows significant improvement to radiated part of right lung BUT a bunch of new lung lesions, and the bone met is getting worse.
11/22/16 Begin Eribulin and Herceptin. H every 3 weeks. E two weeks on, one week off.
3/6/17 Scan shows progression in lungs. Bone met a little better.
3/23/17 Lung biopsy. Tumor sampled is ER-, PR+ (5%), HER2+++. Getting Herceptin and Perjeta as a maintenance treatment.
5/31/17 Port placement
6/1/17 Start Navelbine & Tykerb
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Old 03-28-2015, 09:23 PM   #4
donocco
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Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 332
Re: Understanding Cancer

The talk about prevention makes sense. Animals are very susceptible to cancer. A few years ago our springer spaniel developed a tumor on his leg. I was away on business and my wife had it removed. When I asked her what it was she said"its nothing, its not cancer. A few years later it grew back. During this period I was giving Beethoven 5mg Melatonin at night as melatonin may have some anticancer properties and is not harmful to dogs according to the internet. When the tumor grew back, I stopped the melatonin.

I asked the vet for the first pathology report. It was a spindle cell tumor. This isnt cancer per say as spindle cell tumours do not metastasize to distant organs. Yet it isnt benign either as the keep growing back as this one did. One difference. Thepath report showed absolutely no spindle cells, just inflammatory cells like macrophages, lymphocytes etc. A much less serious pathology. Beethoven the springer spaniel is back on his nightly melatonin. Was the Melatonin responsible for the better pathology. I cant say for sure but as spindle cell tumours tend to stay spindle cell tumours this is a definitite possibility. In dogs a spindle cell tumour is considered a low grade fibrosarcoma. The second tumour was classed as an inflammatory reaction.

Paul
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Old 03-30-2015, 07:03 AM   #5
Mtngrl
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Location: Denver, CO
Posts: 1,427
Re: Understanding Cancer

The other reason I think this resource is helpful is it shows that many mutations and changes lead to cancer, and that many other changes in immune response occur that allow the cancer to grow unchecked. That implies that doing all we can to support our immune systems is one of the best things we can do to counteract the cancer.

That is the thesis of Anti-Cancer; A New Way of Life. The author, a brain scientist/MD who had a lethal brain tumor, suggests thinking of the conditions that lead to cancer as a certain kind of "terrain," and that by managing the terrain optimally we give ourselves the best tools for fighting it. There are no hard and fast answers, but we know that cancer is an inflammatory process, so eating antioxidant and anti-inflammatory foods might be helpful. We know stress hormones suppress the immune system, so it's a good idea to manage stress. We know that exercise boosts and supports the immune system, so it's a good idea to get some exercise (but not too much.) All of these things work together and reinforce each other.

The author eventually did succumb to his brain cancer, but one of the most important points he makes in the book is this: he said that not only did the changes he made help him live with his brain tumor much longer than most people do, but he had a better life. He became more grateful, less anxious, less moody, more fun to be with. That's priceless.
__________________
Amy
_____________________________
4/19/11 Diagnosed invasive ductal carcinoma in left breast; 2.3 cm tumor, 1 axillary lymph node, weakly ER+, HER2+++
4/29/11 CT scan shows suspicious lesions on liver and lungs
5/17/11 liver biopsy
5/24/11 liver met confirmed--Stage IV at diagnosis
5/27/11 Begin weekly Taxol & Herceptin for 3 months (standard of care at the time of my DX)
7/18/11 Switch to weekly Abraxane & Herceptin due to Taxol allergy
8/29/11 CT scan shows no new lesions & old lesions shrinking
9/27/11 Finish Abraxane. Start Herceptin every 3 weeks. Begin taking Arimidex
10/17/11--Brain MRI--No Brain mets
12/5/11 PET scan--Almost NED
5/15/12 PET scan shows progression-breast/chest/spine (one vertebra)
5/22/12 Stop taking Arimidex; stay on Herceptin
6/11/12 Started Tykerb and Herceptin on clinical trial (w/no chemo)
9/24/12 CT scan--No new mets. Everything stable.
3/11/13 CT Scan--two small new possible mets and odd looking area in left lung getting larger.
4/2/13--Biopsy of suspicious area in lower left lung. Mets to lung confirmed.
4/30/13 Begin Kadcyla/TDM-1
8/16/13 PET scan "mixed," with some areas of increased uptake, but also some definite improvement, so I'll stay on TDM-1/Kadcyla.
11/11/13 Finally get hormone receptor results from lung biopsy of 4/2/13. My cancer is no longer ER positive.
11/13/13 PET scan mixed results again. We're calling it "stable." Problems breathing on exertion.
2/18/14 PET scan shows a new lesion and newly active lymph node in chest, other progression. Bye bye TDM-1.
2/28/14 Begin Herceptin/Perjeta every 3 weeks.
6/8/14 PET "mixed," with no new lesions, and everything but lower lungs improving. My breathing is better.
8/18/14 PET "mixed" again. Upper lungs & one spine met stable, lower lungs less FDG avid, original tumor more avid, one lymph node in mediastinum more avid.
9/1/14 Begin taking Xeloda one week on, one week off. Will also stay on Herceptin and Perjeta every three weeks.
12/11/14 PET Scan--no new lesions, and everything looks better than it did.
3/20/15 PET Scan--no new lesions, but lower lung lesions larger and a bit more avid.
4/13/15 Increasing Xeloda dose to 10 days on, one week off.
7/1/15 Scan "mixed" again, but suggests continuing progression. Stop Xeloda. Substitute Abraxane every 3 weeks starting 7/13.
10/28/15 PET scan shows dramatic improvement everywhere. All lesions except lower lungs have resolved; lower lungs noticeably improved.
12/18/15 Last Abraxane. Continue on Herceptin and Perjeta alone beginning 1/8/16.
1/27/16 PET scan shows cancer is stable.
5/11/16 PET scan shows uptake in some areas that were resolved on the last two scans.
6/3/16 Begin Kadcyla and Tykerb combination
6/5 - 6/23 Horrible diarrhea from K&T together. Got pneumonia.
7/15/16 Begin Kadcyla only every 3 weeks.
9/6/16 Begin radiation therapy on right lung lesion that caused the pneumonia.
10/3/16 Last of 12 radiation treatments to right lung.
11/4/16 Huffing and puffing, low O2, high heart rate, on tiniest bit of exertion. Diagnosed as radiation pneumonitis. Treated with Prednisone.
11/11/16 PET scan shows significant improvement to radiated part of right lung BUT a bunch of new lung lesions, and the bone met is getting worse.
11/22/16 Begin Eribulin and Herceptin. H every 3 weeks. E two weeks on, one week off.
3/6/17 Scan shows progression in lungs. Bone met a little better.
3/23/17 Lung biopsy. Tumor sampled is ER-, PR+ (5%), HER2+++. Getting Herceptin and Perjeta as a maintenance treatment.
5/31/17 Port placement
6/1/17 Start Navelbine & Tykerb
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Old 03-30-2015, 12:54 PM   #6
JessicaV
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Join Date: Apr 2014
Posts: 174
Re: Understanding Cancer

Good article Amy, (though I see it was published in 2007, so it only covers what was known up till then) however this is still a valid and very useful primer that is well written

I so agree that prevention is important. And I think another valuable area is how we can fix damaged or absent parts of our own defence system so they can clear the cancer out of our bodies. Researchers are learning how cancers knock our cancer suppression systems out, and how to undo this when it happens. I think there are vaccines that work on this basis, which sounds as if they could eventually work on about half the different kinds of cancer.

My sense is that when researchers fully understand how cancers metastasise and how to stop them from doing so, cancers like breast cancer will stop being a fatal illness. I think it is quite possible there is some mechanism involved that is as simple as "bacteria and other microorganism" for causing many diseases, and the discovery that washing hands between dissecting cadavers and delivering babies or operating on healthy people prevented infection.
__________________
1997-2004 many cysts, many MG & U/S: polycystic breasts.
Sept 2013 found lump,Cyst?? forgot lump.
Dec 2013 GP check, Referred for U/S, MG,FNA.
7 Jan 2014 Radiology: Radiologist turned screen away from me. When asked she said "Not a cyst, very suspicious.See your GP asa results avail."
Cancelled my psych clients for the week.
8 Jan 14 GP: 2.2cm IDC in 6cm DCIS field. FNA=malignant cells. Referred to Surgeon.
Cancelled my psych clients for the month.
13 Jan
14 Surgeon said L mastectomy not lumpectomy, offered neoadjunctive trial, agreed adjunctive chemo after surgery a good choice for me. Booked Body scan and bone scan for staging (both fine) Surgery for16 Jan,
16 Jan 14 Surgeon also agreed in preop meeting to also remove 6cm fatty cyst in job lot. Good job done.
19 Jan 14 discharged home with 1 drain.
22 Jan 14 drain partly pulled out overnight, serious seroma (600 ml reducing removed every 2 days for a month) Serious staph infection because nurse said wait 3 days for yr surgeon appointment.
26Jan 14 pathology: 2.2cm Grade 3(3,3,2)ER-, PgR-, HER2+2 so to be confirmed by Sish test. Node negative. No vascular or lymphatic involvement. No metastases in scans.
30 Jan 14 HER2+ high amplification, 13 gene copies per cell.
21st Feb 14 Began 3wkly TCH adjuvant treatment at The Mount Hospital Perth, with 3monthly MUGA heart tests +Oncologist or Surgeon full physical check-up.
Cancelled my psych clients for 6 months.
Feb 14 First MUGA test: 71%,
First C15.3 test: 20
7th March 14 began Neulasta self-applied injections 24hrs after each TCH treatment. Bonepain helped by spa, heatpacks and
Claritin, reflux/indigestion helped by Somac.
July 14 completed docetaxol and carboplatin, ongoing herceptin to 12 months. Severe cognitive deficit/fatigue after 1pm daily.
Sept 14 Second MUGA test: 69%
Cancelled my psych clients for 2014
Dec 14 Third MUGA test: 70%
Second C15.3 test : 20
Cognitive fatigue delays return to work.

March 2015 Tachycardia pulse 168, night in hospital. Cardiologist says no heart disease, ALIVE ECG attachment for my mobile phone now regular monitoring.
July 2015 Worktrial, up to 8hrs per wk. Fatigue ongoing
Aug 2015 Heart good, no evidence of cancer, just Fatigue.

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