In 2009, the New York Times ran an article titled, “Cancers Can Vanish Without Treatment, but How?” A few years later, a similar article was published online at MedicalXpress which asked, “Why do some cancers suddenly disappear without treatment?” Today, some are even forgoing cancer treatments because they believe their cancer will just go away on its own. So, can cancer cells die on their own? If they do not, what then?
Why DO some Cancers Disappear on their Own?
As the New York Times article pointed out, researchers have found evidence in some people that cancer’s which were formerly developing tumors had in fact disappeared without any treatment. Those studying this phenomenon have noted that although some small cancers have disappeared without treatment, this is very rare. Thus, cancer should never be left to chance.
However, the research also shows that whereas formerly cancer was viewed as “linear,” that is, continuing to grow, it is not. Instead, it appears that cancer is more fluid. Rather than only growing without treatment, some will shrink, then grow again.
Why is this Research Important?
Part of the reason this information is important is because one day, treatment centers will have the ability to assess whether to treat a cancer now or simply monitor its progress. Researchers at John’s Hopkins University have been studying this process in men with prostate cancer since 2009.
Men with prostate cancer are given the option to either have the prostate removed or leave the organ but have regular biopsies. Of those who kept their prostate, only about 30% experienced progression of the tumor. It was then they chose to have it removed.
Another study which took the approach of providing placebos to persons with small kidney tumors found that 6% had tumors which shrank.
What Normally Happens in Cancer Cells?
As already mentioned, these studies, while promising, should not be taken as an excuse to avoid treatments. Why?
Because again, such cases are rare. In most cases, cancer cells act as cancer cells always do. Normally, cancer cells lack the ability of normal cells to stop growing, so once they do, growth continues. Also, unlike normal cells, cancer cells cannot stick together entirely; some will eventually break away and spread to other parts of the body. This process is known as metastasis.
Finally, cancer cells do not repair themselves or die without treatment. Unlike normal cells which die off once they become displaced or obsolete, cancer cells continue to live and grow. In other words, cancer disappearing on its own is the exception, not the rule. The mechanisms which permit tumors to develop are complex and generally maintain very rigid rules.
For good reason, anyone diagnosed with cancer or who suspect they may have cancer should see a specialist right away. Despite the online myths, cancer DOES NOT generally go away on its own.
If you believe you may have cancer or know for a fact you do, make an appointment with Kymera Independent Physicians today. Cancer is not something which should be left to chance.