February is national cancer prevention month. The “War on Cancer” declared by U.S. President Nixon more than 5 decades ago is still going on and cancer remains the second leading cause of death worldwide. The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Cancer Research has projected that cancer diagnosis will increase by 75%-90% by the year 2030. While we understand more about cancer development and progression, the treatment has not changed much from the standard trio-surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. Many of the chemotherapy drugs are labeled as carcinogens, yet they are still the mainstay of the treatment. Each of the current treatments is associated with inherent health risks and side effects, however, all remain a part of standard cancer therapy. Chemotherapy drugs kill the rapidly growing cells, and therefore they attack not only cancer cells but also healthy cells in the body (i.e., hair follicles, blood cells, intestinal lining cells). Due to such indiscriminate killing of all cells, the chemotherapy drugs cause widespread damage to the body. When a cell dies as a result of chemotherapy, its remains, called the cell debris, can be dangerous too. They can induce inflammation, which in turn can trigger other cancers and health problems. In one of the studies conducted at the Dr. Rath Research Institute, one group of mice was exposed to the breast cancer cells together with debris generated by the chemotherapy drug, docetaxel, and another group of mice was exposed only to breast cancer cells. The results indicated that the group of mice that was given the cancer cell debris after docetaxel showed significantly more pronounced tumor growth and aggravated inflammatory markers (TNF-alpha, IL-1) than the mice that were exposed only to breast cancer cells.
As the summer approaches, we become more concerned with sun exposure and skin cancers. Basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma are the most common forms of skin cancers, and malignant melanoma is the most fatal of them all. Worldwide, one in three people are diagnosed with cancers that are classified under skin cancers.
Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers affecting men worldwide and is the second most common cancer in men globally. It is a significant health concern, specifically in men 65 and older, as one in every eight men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime.
The prostate gland is a small walnut-shaped organ that produces seminal fluid, which in turn contains many enzymes including prostate-specific antigen (PSA) and contributes to the fluidity of semen. Increase in the PSA levels is one of the main indicators of either prostate cancer or benign prostatic hypertrophy. Although screening may help earlier diagnosis of prostate cancer, treatment options are still confined to surgery, hormone therapy, and radiation, with high cost, serious side effects, and limited efficacy.
With the arrival of summer, people become acutely aware of exposure to the sun, the risk of skin cancers and the importance of the use of sunscreen. Skin cancer is the most common of all types of cancers in the USA and other developed countries. Worldwide, it accounts for more than 30% of all diagnosed cancers. Basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma are the most common forms of skin cancers, and malignant melanoma is the most dangerous of all of them. According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 96,480 new melanoma cases are expected to be diagnosed in 2019 and melanoma will be attributed as a cause of death for 7,230 people. It is estimated that one in five people will develop skin cancer in their lifetime.
Worldwide, kidney cancer is one of the 10 most common cancers in both men and women. The American Cancer Society estimates 63,990 new cases of kidney cancer will be diagnosed in the US in 2017. Kidney tumors can be either benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous) and since they tend to grow quickly without any specific symptoms, they are usually removed before any diagnostic biopsy is done. Males tend to get kidney cancer twice as often as females. Common risk factors for kidney cancer include smoking, obesity, and exposure to chemicals like benzene, asbestos, and certain pesticides. Being African American or a family history of hypertension, lymphoma or kidney cancer, and certain genetic conditions further increase the risk of developing kidney cancer.
Head and neck cancers are a group of tumors originating from several areas above the collarbone. They include cancers of the larynx, salivary glands, tongue, thyroid, and nasopharyngeal area. Annually there are 60,000 new cases of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) in the US, and more than 13,000 deaths. Squamous cells are a type of cells found in the outer layer of the skin and in the mucous membranes and include the cells lining airways and intestines.
The biggest risk factor for head and neck cancers include tobacco use and smoking (this includes the smokeless tobacco), and alcohol - all of which are highly preventable causes. Additionally, sun exposure, and occupational exposure to substances like chromium, radium, leather, and wood dust can also increase the risk of developing HNSCC. Hence, the ears, nose, and throat happen to be the most common affected areas.
Skin cancer is a leading form of cancer in the United States and other industrialized countries. In the US alone 3.5 million new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed every year. Until now no effective treatment is available.
The reason skin cancer is so wildly feared is not the skin tumor itself, but the fact that the cancer cells spread (metastasize) from the skin to other organs and eventually throughout the body. Nine out of ten cancer patients die not at the stage of a single tumor but during the stage of tumor metastasis.