According to a recent article in the NY Times, a study published in The Archives of Internal Medicine found that some breast cancers may go into spontaneous remission on their own, with no medical intervention. The researchers found this from looking at the mammography results of thousands of women in four Norwegian countries, and surprisingly, some of those women who showed a tumor in their breast at one point in time did not show a tumor in a repeated mammography six years later. Of course, there are many complexities and more details to this study (you can read the original research here: http://archinte.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/full/168/21/2311), but the researchers are baffled, with the one conclusion: do some breast cancers disappear on their own?!
Have you heard about this phenomenon? Can you imagine being the woman who's cancer disappears, and it just depends on when you get the mammogram (before or after the tumor is seen).
Please don't misinterpret this as a reason to not get a mammogram. It is impossible to know which tumor will magically disappear on its own, and which one will spread and cause irreversible damage. What I got from this study is that if some women's tumors are going into remission on their own, then what do these women have that other's don't? A specific gene, or antibody or something?? And, can we manufacture this to help cure cancer?!
What do you think about this?
One more note: when I was in high school, I remember learning in health class that "viruses aren't curable or treatable and bacteria are". Well, now we've learned that some virus strains actually go into remission and essentially "cure themselves". So, maybe we can learn something new about cancer?!
Per-Henrik Zahl, MD, PhD; Jan Mæhlen, MD, PhD; H. Gilbert Welch, MD, MPH (2008). The Natural History of Invasive Breast Cancers Detected by Screening Mammography. Arch Intern Med; 168(21):2311-2316.
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