People around the world look forward to the day when the answer to this question will be an absolute “yes”. Unfortunately, that is not the case at the present time.
Medical science recognizes over 100 different kinds of cancer which can be grouped by organ systems or cell types that may respond to treatments in similar ways. There are a number of treatment options available depending on the type of cancer including surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.
In some cases, if the cancer is caught early, it is possible to “cure” cancer for that one patient using existing treatments. But differences in biology, genetics, and the stage of the cancer when it is discovered mean the same treatment will be more or less effective for other patients with the same type of cancer. So a cure for one person’s cancer may not be a cure for another person.
Scientists continue to look for cancer cures using all the research techniques at their disposal. Clinic trials are research studies that allow scientists to ask a specific question then study a select group of patients to see what they can learn.
Trials are under way looking for alternatives to prevent, diagnose, and treat many diseases including cancer. Patients who choose to participate in research trials can contribute to the scientific understanding of their disease as researchers look for the cure for cancer.
A word of caution about cancer cures: If you read about a product or procedure that claims to be a cure for cancer, check it out before you invest your money or your health into it. It is much easier to claim to have the cure than it is to produce a good outcome for patients.
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission suggests these steps to evaluate claims of cancer cures:
• Talk to your doctor - If a claim is legitimate, the medical community will be talking about it. Ask your doctor if the new treatment actually works, if there is evidence to support it, and if it is safe.
Also find out whether it could be used in conjunction with your current treatment and if it is a match for your particular type of cancer.
• Continue your current treatments – Don’t stop an existing treatment and don’t delay starting treatment while you investigate a possible cure. Complementary therapies can sometimes help ease symptoms caused by traditional treatments and may enhance or improve the effectiveness of some treatments.
Alternative therapies are generally intended to replace traditional treatments. Work with your doctor to determine the best available treatment for your cancer as soon as possible.
• Be skeptical – If a treatment claims to be a universal cure for all cancer, remember that there are many kinds of cancer cells that will not respond to treatment the same way. So it is very unlikely that one product could cure multiple kinds of cancers.
Also note that just because something claims to be “natural” does not mean it will be safe or effective. Some natural products can cause serious harm. And don’t be misled by technical language or glowing testimonials.
Just because the language sounds official does not mean the product will work. Testimonials on websites and TV ads are often fake or feature actors rather than real patients.
When it comes to curing cancer, early detection is often the best tool in the healthcare arsenal. If you have any questions or concerns about your health, talk to your healthcare provider right away.
Federal Trade Commission. Curious? Ask. Web. October 5, 2011.
National Cancer Institute. Types of Treatment. Web. October 5, 2011.
About.com: Cancer. Types of Cancer. Lisa Fayed. Web. October, 5, 2011.
About.com: Cancer. Cancer Clinical Trials. Lisa Fayed. Web. October 5, 2011.
Reviewed October 6, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith