Week 7: Our Understanding of Cancer

1.  How sophisticated is our understanding of cancer?  In many ways, I was surprised to know the depth of understanding about the biology of cancer. The primary theory is that mutations in genes for tumor suppressors and oncogenes lead to cancer. I was impressed by the sophistication of our understanding about what is happening at a cellular and gene level. We understand that as while healthy cells die, cancer cells can’t recognize when they’ve lost their ability to replicate. We understand tumor biology and the progression from hyperplasia, where due to uncontrolled cell division, cells start abnormally multiplying to dysplasia , where cells experience abnormal growth and changes. We understand that cancer is the end result of a series of molecular events that alter the normal properties of cells. We understand how as mutations begin to increase in a cell, more and more abnormalities result.

While there is a lot of understanding at the biological level, where Western understanding lacks is a bigger context of what is happening in the organism to lead to these changes. The understanding of “why” cancer happens seems very limited. It seems the Western understanding is limited to what is happening rather than truly understanding the causes. The lack of sophistication of understanding the why is interesting to me. It feels like this is a reflection of Western Medicine’s lack of acknowledging the psycho-emotional-spiritual-constitutional….matrix of humanity…

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