Carbon Ion Therapy has been shown in Japan to increase survival rates in solid mass tumors, such as pancreatic cancers. Instead of the 10% survival rate over 3-5 years that would shoot up to 50% utilizing this new type of radiation. So over 5 years, instead of only 10 patients being alive, that would increase to 50 patients still standing of the original 100.
Cancer is such a difficult puzzle to solve because of all the various biological pieces needed for a clear picture of the disease. The complication of the scenario sometimes goes way beyond our primitive understanding of basic sciences of the cancerous process. The “Big C” is not just one disease, but thousands of different problems. With each type of cancer (breast, pancreatic, brain, etc) there are a multitude of things going wrong that leads to a cell that loses its stability. Once cells become cancerous, they take on a radical different life of their own. No longer paying attention to the rules that your body dictates, cancer becomes a rebel without a cause for the host (us). It may travel through the various human systems (circulatory, lymph), utilizing them as a superhighway for spreading (metastasize) to other parts of the body. Cancer’s ultimate goal is to take over the entire organism forcing complete domination until the host passes away.
Our cells have a finite lifespan based on many factors. Cancer cells unleash these factors which leads to an infinite lifespan. It becomes an out of control force.
There are three major therapies to “cure” the different types of cancerous disease(s). They are surgery, chemotherapy (usually IV medication) and radiation. The supposed “cures” may actually lead to a lower quality of life and an earlier death from treatment rather than the cancer.
Reason being, therapies are just so non-selective. Selectivity is being able to seek out and destroy just the cancer cells. Most of these treatments also destroy good cells. In addition, side effects include anorexia, nausea and vomiting. Your body cannot get the nutrition it needs to function at its highest level to destroy the carcinogenic cells.
That brings us to why Carbon Ion Therapy (radiation) is bringing various cancers under control with less adverse effects.
Three Advantages of Carbon Ion Radiation Versus Regular Radiation:
- Using carbon ions makes the treatment more selective in only destroying cancer cells. The device can target just the area of the cancer without negatively affecting any of the surrounding good cells.
- Radiation therapy is at its best when there is oxygen within the cancer. Many cancers are deficient of oxygen, especially within a tumor. Carbon Ion Therapy doesn’t need oxygen to work successfully.
- A carbon ion is a rather large particle that selectively kills the genetic (DNA) of the bad cell and doesn’t really disturb the DNA of the good cells. Older radiation methods had smaller particles that did as much destruction to the cancer as the normal cells.
This type of radiation treatment has been used in both Japan and Germany with great success. Shortly another facility will be opening in Italy. Researchers hope to open a facility in the United States within a few years in Colorado. The size of the instrumentation takes over the size of a large building. The cost is upwards of 120 million dollars. Fortunately, the cost of treatment is reported to be similar to that of today’s radiation facilities.
Initial patient guinea pigs will be of the canine family. Currently, 50% of dogs get cancer over their lives. This is similar to humans. The only difference is dogs live an average of 8-15 years. Researchers get the same 50% when they look individuals over an 85 year lifespan. So ultimately, if you live long enough, and old age doesn’t kill you, cancer will usually be your grim reaper.
Content for some of this article and picture above came by way of NPR Colorado. Thank you NPR.
Located below is the link to both article and audio piece from NPR: