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Cancer Health Main Forums => Cancer Research News & Studies => Topic started by: danialthomas on August 23, 2020, 03:07:35 pm

Title: TUMOR-FREE or CANCER-FREE?
Post by: danialthomas on August 23, 2020, 03:07:35 pm
When cancer treatment eradicates all tumors that can be measured or seen on a scan, it is called a “complete response” or “complete remission.” It is also known as having no evidence of disease or NED. A “partial response” or “partial remission” means the cancer partly responded to treatment but did not go away. It simply means you have less cancer.

Is being “tumor-free” the same as being “cancer-free?” Not necessarily. The detection or resolution limit of CT or MRI technology is 3 millimeters. This means that a tumor must be at least 3 millimeters in diameter to be detectable or seen on a CT or MRI scan. For a PET scan, the detection limit is 4 millimeters. Undetectable tumors are called microtumors. Undetectable metastases are called micrometastases. If your oncologist told you that you are in complete remission or have no evidence of disease, ask him/her what will be done to target possible microtumors or micrometastases.

Besides microtumors or micrometastases, is the issue of cancer stem cells. In the human body, there are healthy stem cells that help repair and regenerate damaged tissues. Similarly, in tumors, there are cancer stem cells (CSCs) that help repair and regenerate tumors. This subset of cancer cells is also known as tumor-survival cells (TSCs) or tumor-initiating cells (TICs). Not only are CSCs a chief driver of treatment failure, cancer progression and metastasis, and inevitable cancer recurrence, CSCs may also be the root cause of the original tumor itself. Because of the powerful survival mechanisms of CSCs, chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery are unable to kill them. In fact, conventional therapy may do the opposite and stimulate the proliferation and virulence of CSCs.

CSCs can migrate and nest in various areas of the body and remain dormant for months, years, or even decades until the right stimulus comes along and awakens them. Conventional therapy can shrink tumors but will not prevent tumor recurrence. Sooner or later, lingering CSCs can form new and often more aggressive tumors from a small number of cells (as few as 100). In other words, being “tumor-free” is not the same as being “cancer-free.” Eradicating tumors, microtumors, and micrometastases is not enough. CSCs must also be eradicated to achieve long-term survival. If your oncologist has told you that you are in complete remission and have no evidence of disease, ask him/her what will be done to target possible cancer stem cells.

Dr. Daniel Thomas, DO, MS
Mount Dora, Florida, USA