If you ever receive a cancer diagnosis, almost any doctor you talk to will tell you to have surgery and remove the tumor. This is the accepted protocol. But is it the best course of treatment? And what are the consequences of the surgery?
Ralph Moss, PhD is a specialist in the world medical literature of cancer. He reports that a primary tumor may actually keep your cancer from growing even faster. In fact, he says it acts as a brake on the growth of distant breakaway cells. It may restrain the growth of distant metastases. In other words, the primary wants to be boss. Take it away and the secondaries can grow unrestrained.
It's clear that many people do well after their surgeon removes the primary tumor. We see this in breast and other cancers. I do know long-term survivors. But I also know many women who developed aggressive metastases soon after they removed the primary.
New research finds that the migration of "malignant" cells to distant tissues is not in and of itself dangerous. The breakaway cells may arrive in their new location in a normal, not a malignant or premalignant, state. Danger arises only when those breakaway cells, now residing in distant tissues, somehow become transformed genetically and begin to proliferate. That may happen when you remove the primary tumor.
I have long told my patients that it might not be a good idea to remove their tumors, based on this very premise. Now conventional medicine is beginning to see the light - though I doubt it changes anything very quickly. Should you have your tumor removed? Consider this:
The primary tumor's presence might directly help management. For example, if you undertake "integrative" therapies to enhance your immune system and detox, and the tumor regresses and/or disappears, you can be fairly certain that your immune system has checked not only the primary, but distant tumors as well. Take out the primary and you won't have a clue as to your body's reactions until the distant cancers rear their heads.
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On the other hand, I do grant that surgical excision does lead to some long-term remissions or perhaps even cures. However, in my whole career, I have seen few cases where primary cancer excisions have led to non-recurrence over a 7-year period, perhaps 10 cases in all.
I can't advise you on what to do. I present this only to inform you that it might not be a good idea to take out a stable primary cancer. Following its progress might do more for you than eliminating it, as you will lose an indicator of the success of your program.
Please discuss this with your integrative physician before making a decision. Each case is highly individualized. However, I strongly suggest a PET scan before a decision to remove a primary. Most patients I know have their primaries removed without their doctors ordering this most sensitive of the scans for metastasis. If the PET scan is positive, and you have metastases, why on earth do a resection of the primary? It doesn't make sense. Yet, unfortunately, that is the standard of practice in many places in the U.S.
Demicheli R, Retsky MW, Hrushesky WJM, et al. The effects of surgery on tumor growth: a century of investigations. Ann Oncol 2008 June 10.
Podyspanina K, Du YC, Jechlinger M, et al. Seeding and propagation of untransformed mouse mammary cells in the lung. Science 2008;321(5897):1841-4.
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