There are answers to stop cancer spread. Three recent cancer news stories seemed to connect. They served to unravel my calm demeanor. I must write to release it. One story was the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) prohibiting an early detection cancer test. Additionally, a video detailing cancer immunotherapy embargoes caught my eye. Lastly, there was radon: information to purge the killer in your home. All three grabbed not only my attention, but also my emotion.
FTC Cancer Test Halted
First of all is an article penned by Jim Greenwood. He is a former Republican member of Congress from Pennsylvania. Additionally, he is a past president and CEO of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization. He answers “Why this lifesaving test for cancer still sits on a shelf.” https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/2021/07/28/why-new-breakthrough-test-cancer-still-isnt-u-s-market/5383725001/ It was published in the Des Moines Register, as well as the USA Today. In summary, the US FTC has thus far refrained from allowing an extremely effective blood test. This “new blood test has the potential to revolutionize the way we detect and treat cancer” via DNA sequencing. It has the “ability to detect the early signs of more than fifty deadly cancers.” Forty-five of them “don’t have a recommended screening option available.” This is “before symptoms present themselves”!
Early detection could be a true health system game changer. I certainly am not a doctor. However, I do wonder what could happen if this test would be released to the marketplace. How might cancer spread be stopped? Maybe simple life style changes would be sufficient action? Perhaps kinder and gentler treatments could stop the cancer? With luck, this could minimize using side effect inducing chemotherapy, radiation and surgery! Certainly quality of life would be enhanced for patients as well as their families.
How can the FTC be convinced this test is significantly vital? Jim Greenwood makes a convincing argument that there is no reason for this to be held up. The best action for humankind would be to fast track the release of this early detection blood test. This could allow us to slow or stop cancer spread.
Cuba Slows Cancer Spread
Secondly, a NOVA episode demanded my attention. https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/video/cubas-cancer-hope/ Apparently Fidel Castro’s former leadership has made Cuba a world class cancer treatment center. They have developed an immunotherapy lung cancer vaccine, CimaVax. These treatments enable the disease to transform from an acute condition to chronic. It thereby increases life expectancy. Many US people go to Cuba for treatments. This is not to purposely break the law, but to improve their lives. Roswell Park doctors in Buffalo, NY have been collaborating with Cuban doctors. They are doing US clinical trials on these vaccines. https://www.pri.org/stories/cuba-has-had-lung-cancer-vaccine-years Unfortunately, there is an embargo preventing delivery of these life enhancing medications to US patients. Meanwhile, US doctors await FDA approval pending clinical trial data.
Yet again, I was disturbed that the best and most humane treatments could be blocked by our government. Medical personnel on both sides of the border want to help patients. They were ready and willing to share these treatments if the embargo was lifted.
What steps does our world need to take? How can the best medical practices be used to benefit all humankind? How can countries work together to stop cancer spread?
Mitigate Radon to Stop Cancer’s Spread
Thirdly, our local news aired a story on radon. https://www.weareiowa.com/article/news/health/radon-in-iowa-mitigation-environmental-protection-agency-public-health-maria-steele-richard-deming-bill-field-gail-orcu Radon is a naturally occurring gas released from the ground. It can seep into homes and cause lung cancer. The entire state of Iowa is a high risk area. Currently, it seems that local agencies are expressing more concern that public and private buildings be tested for radon. Mitigation of radon makes structures safe to inhabit. We installed such a system several years ago. It involves a quiet, continually running fan. The system connects a ground level area beneath the building to the exterior. Radon is then expelled outdoors. This story is a reminder of how we citizens must educate ourselves as to exposure risk.
Here is data from the World Health Organization on radon. https://www.who.int/data/gho/data/themes/topics/topic-details/GHO/gho-phe-radon-database It also details strategies world wide. How can further radon mitigation in the public and private sectors be accomplished? What if people world wide worked on this issue? Could we stop cancer spread?
This brings me to why these three stories concern me. Indeed, we must stop cancer spread. You see, we lost our 38 year old son from cancer. I know we are not alone on this journey. So many of us have lost family members, friends and colleagues to this dread disease. Have you ever counted how many you have lost? Also include those who are still living with cancer. I began counting by using my upper and lower digits. Then, I greatly exceeded twenty and lost count.
My point is that cancer is far too wide spread in our world to be playing trade wars. Cooperation is vital!
Lastly, one must ask, who benefits from these trade policies? While this is not the focus of my writing, it is a vital question. For some reason, it feels as if it is a money issue. I am reminded of the quote from Scrooge in Dickens’ Christmas Carol. “Then let them die and reduce the surplus population.” Is it indeed because of money? If so, this disturbing scenario will end when our love for humankind exceeds our love for money. What can we do? Our policies and actions can significantly make a difference.