What does it mean to “cure” cancer? Isn’t chemotherapy a largely effective solution? Why do they say cancer hasn’t been cured then?



What does it mean to “cure” cancer? Isn’t chemotherapy a largely effective solution? Why do they say cancer hasn’t been cured then?

In: Biology

Cause chemotherapy is not 100% effective, when people say ‘cure’ they mean something that would get rid of cancer 100%

Chemotherapy is like using a shotgun trying to hit an apple on top of your head.

You cannot „cure“ most of the cancer variations yet. It’s just kill almost all of the cancer cells and hope they don‘t grow back.

Also having cancer is not like having some kind of virus. It‘s your own body.
There are multiple kinds of cells that are mutating. There are medications for specific kinds of cells, but unfortunately you will probably have multiple kinds of cancer cells.

It’s largely as meaningless a term as curing diseases. There are dozens of different types of just bowel cancer and probably thousands of different types of cancer in humans. So for some types of Lymphoma you can indeed argue we have cured it yet for other types such as pancreatic adenocarcinoma we basically have no effective treatments.

There’s a very big technical difference between a “treatment” and a “cure”. To this day, we can’t “cure” the common cold, but we can certainly treat it.

A cure is a permanent fix. Chemotherapy is not only highly destructive to the rest of your body (leading to an increased risk of senescent cells turning cancerous) but it almost never completely destroys all of the cancerous cells in your body.

There are some extremely promising “cures” for cancer in testing right now, but what we use in the vast majority of cases are “treatments”. (It’s much more profitable)

Chemotherapy isn’t a cure, it’s a poison which slowly kills you, but because cancerous cells are growing rapidly, it kills them faster. You have to hope that the cancer is killed off before it does too much damage to the rest of you.

Cancer is a general term for a class of disease, there are many many different cancers with different causes. There are pretty effective cures for some cancers where a clear cause has been identified (like a genetic defect), and the treatment can directly target the cause to prevent the issue.

There are some immunotherapy approaches being worked on, and that is why RNA vaccines were being developed and could be used to develop a Covid vaccine so rapidly. The idea is you can sequence a tumour then make a vaccine specifically for your cancer very rapidly and get your immune system to kill off the cancer instead of drugs.

To “cure” cancer is to completely remove the Human body’s ability to adapt to anything ever.

To “cure” “cancer” (both in quotes for what they represent) is to cease the human body’s ability to adapt. To “cure” every single type of cancer forever, is to say the human genetic structure is not allowed to adjust, naturally, in any way whatsoever. We will put a cease to that. We will stop all genetic mutations, nothing shall ever deviate from what is the current plan. This is the end. We are perfect in all ways, forever, we can never improve. Zero genetic mutation shall ever happen. The Sentinels shall enforce this doctrine. Anyone variating from The Plan shall be executed on sight.

That’s the “Cure” for cancer.

tl;dr: Yes, chemotherapy works well for some types of cancer, but for many other types, it is still that most patients die.

First: In medicine, we call something a “cure” if it makes a disease go away *permanently*. For cancer, it often happens that the treatment does not kill all cancer cells and the cancer hence grows back after a few months or years.

A common rule of thumb is: if the cancer has not come back after five years after treatment has finished, it’s probably gone for good and the patient is considered cured.

For many cancers, established treatments like chemotherapy, targeted therapy, radiation, and surgery work quite well: Breast cancer, for example, used to be a death sentence, but now, over 80% of patients can be cured. Of course, even curative treatment is still no fun, due to all the side effects of chemotherapy, but it often really works.

For many types of brain tumours, in contrast, there is still little we can do, and most patients die within months of the cancer’s discovery.

Have a look [here](https://www.nuffieldtrust.org.uk/chart/how-does-five-year-cancer-survival-in-england-vary-by-cancer-type-2) for the survival rates by cancer.

Chemotherapy is poison that is indiscriminate. It will kill healthy cells and cancerous cells but as cancerous cells grow at a faster rate, it kills them faster. The hope is you kill the cancer before you kill the host. It’s like setting off a nuclear bomb and hoping you will survive it. Drugs they are currently working on will target the cancer cells only. It will be like taking an antibiotic.

Antibiotics, target bacteria only and leave your cells alone. Before penecillin, dying of septicemia was a serious risk. Your body would raise it’s temperature to fight the infection. Your body is supposed to be at a certain temperature and you can only sustain a ha a serious disease that you could die from. That is what is meant by a cure for cancer, when it is considered no more serious a disease than a bacterial infection that can be treated with a prescription.

I want to live the day in which i will hear a ( any) doctor such as Phlox , in Star Trek Enterprise episode Terra Nova , saying : ” .. She has cancer Captain .. Not to worry , it’s easy to cure . “

Most people in here have the wrong idea about what a cure is.

Chemotherapy can cure cancer. If it kills off the cancer then it has cured it. That’s what a cure is. It gets rid of a disease.

The issue is that a lot of people think a cure is a magical thing that always works and always works 100%. In reality cures quite often don’t return you to 100% of what you were before.

I have breast cancer, secondary Her2+ breast cancer. There are many different types of breast cancer, mine is , supposedly the second most aggressive with triple negative being the most aggressive.
I was diagnosed de novo, in other words it had spread to my bones & liver before diagnosis. In a weird way I’ve been lucky as my herceptin treatment (immunotherapy) is working for me. My next treatment will be my 100th, my prognosis was 2-3 years, It’ll be 6 years since diagnosis in October. I had 6 rounds of chemo at the start to reduce my tumours but as it had already spread my treatment is palliative.
I’ve lost 7 treatment friends since lockdown, most of those with other types of breast cancer, they have all lost their lives around the 2-3 year mark. That’s why I consider myself lucky, I known my cancer will become immune to herceptin at some point, but I keep as positive as I can.

That’s like saying if you have a hand disease the CURE is to cut off the hand.

That’s not a cure.

Chemotherapy nukes the body and hopefully kills the cancer, that’s all.

You should look up what chemotherapy is. Some ELI5 questions are fundamentally good questions, but some are based on mistaken ideas about what the concepts are.

People mean all cancers having a 100% survival rate. There are treatments for many types of cancers, with varying levels of long term survival, but no surefire cure for all cancers.

First, it is important to actually define what cancer is. Cancer is a cell in your body with mutated DNA that turns off its suicide switch and is similar enough that your immune system doesn’t recognize it as a foreign invader. As it grows your body gives it nutrients and it can eventually spread around the body.

Your body normally kills cancerous cells. In addition, damaged cells will normally kill themselves. None of this is foolproof and any cell that divides can eventually become cancerous.

Putting aside the various scientific techniques available to help treat cancer, it is important to have an understanding of why a “cure” is so difficult to come up with. Any cell in your body can theoretically become cancerous at any time. You can’t get a vaccine for that and you can’t pretreat it. Even if you completely remove one type of cancer, another from a completely different cell can show up later in life.

There are outside organisms that can damage cells repeatedly enough that make cancer more likely to happen – cervical cancer as an example. We can greatly reduce the incidence of cervical cancer by preventing the offending organism, but that’s not a cure for cancer as a whole.

There are creatures that live very long lives with almost no incidents of cancer. Research is ongoing there, but short of genetically reengineering the human race there will never likely be a true cure to cancer.