Clearly our society wants a cure. Doesn’t matter what it is, we want a cure for it. Cures are passionate. Death, sickness, recovery. These are all things that lift the human spirit and drive us to great accomplishments. Prevention is boring and takes a much longer commitment and purpose. This is why “this” and “that” for a cure are the taglines of fundraising efforts. But is there a cure for breast cancer?
If we “defeat” breast cancer (or any cancer, for that matter), have we really beat it, or have we beat it down to the point where our immune system can again get control of abnormal growth? My personal belief is that abnormal, cancerous cells are constantly forming in our bodies, but the immune system surveillance is always there to kill off this abnormality. It is only when the combination of abnormal cells increasing (from environmental exposures, poor diet, stress) and the immune system suffering (again from environmental exposures, poor diet, stress, etc…) that cancer growth expands beyond or ability to control it.
But, as this review suggests, breast cancer is actually a collection of malignancies. The problem is that there are so many places that growth can go wrong in a cell. Worse, as the toxicity of society progresses, we are seeing an evolution in the types of cancers that are identified. Consider it a moving target that we already have a really hard time hitting. Current cancer treatments, with a few exceptions, are non-specific and target healthy cells as well as the cancer cells. Worse, it is not uncommon for the nature of breast cancer to change during its course, thus requiring a change in treatment or addition of more chemotherapy.
So what does all this mean? It means that a true cure for breast cancer may never be found. Sure, we may have great advances in treatment of breast cancer such as Herceptin that targets the HER2 protein. But despite this and despite billions and billions of dollars thrown at a “cure” and early detection, breast cancer survival rates have not increased proportionately. Lifestyle changes remain the only way that have been shown in study after study after study to lower your risk so that treatment is a moot point.
It’s not exciting. It’s not glamorous. No one calls up all their family to tell them excitedly that they DON’T have breast cancer because they’ve made the right decisions. But in the end, you’ll be glad you did.