When your life is on the line, getting the best treatment can mean the difference between life or death. And when faced with a diagnosis of cancer, you will be under pressure to act quickly. How do you decide which treatment program to accept? Which doctor, and which facility, will you go with? When faced with multiple options, how do you decide which is best?
“Praemonitus, praemunitus” — that’s the Latin proverb that means “forewarned is forearmed.” Before you are pressured to start a protocol, learning how cancer works and why it acts as it does could help you make an informed decision about treatment. Any treatment regimen is based upon theories or models of how a particular cancer operates. To complicate matters, there are many belief systems about cancer, and your doctor may be looking at treatment that follows his or her particular beliefs and training. So now is the time to be informed, before dealing with a crisis. And knowing how cancer operates, you can greatly decrease your chances of ever getting a cancer diagnosis!
Cancer is cancer, right? Some still think of cancer as a mass duplication of a DNA-damaged cell, where that cell just keeps multiplying and all the cells are the same. Obviously there are many types of cancer, each with its own peculiarities, and those cells are different from those of other forms of cancer. But even within one type of cancer, not all the cells are the same. There is one common factor that all types of cancer have, however: the Cancer Stem Cell (CSC).
A look at cancer stem cells
The existence of CSC’s was not always accepted, and many treatments still don’t account for the variety of cell types within cancer. In research done by the University of Cincinnati, published in eLife, a number of different types of cells were found in a cancer tumor: stem-like cells at the top of a hierarchy, working down to more numerous, more differentiated cells, and the “common” cells as the most numerous and lowest level of the hierarchy. Stem cells don’t produce the differentiated cells directly: they produce “progenitor cells” which are made for rapid reproduction into the final specialized cells.
This quote from the study says it all, “Our recent findings emphasize the need to account for the specific cell states that are present within a tumor..” Not everyone does!
The CSC is a normal cell that has altered and reverted to a cancer stem cell. It is a cell that has the same features of self-renewal and differentiation as normal stem cells, except that the results of their reproduction is cancerous. The CSC is to the cancer tumor as a normal stem cell is to a healthy body — the source of the cells that come next.
Stem cells and CSC’s, being the source of “common” cells, are especially resilient. Where toxins and radiation would quickly kill a normal cell, the stem cell resists hostile conditions, much like a plant seed survives harshness until it can sprout and grow. The stem cell is made to be a seed, so that it can rapidly produce many new cells from its protected blueprint.
The easy way to understand the structure of cancer is to recognize that most of the cancer cells come from a few, well protected cancer stem cells. You could kill almost all of the cancer, but if you leave behind the CSC “seeds”, they can sprout up again — and the cancer is back.
CSC’s explain frequent failure of conventional treatment
The beehive and queen bee is a great analogy. The queen sits at the center, protected by the many worker bees. She can produce many more worker bees at any time. The “worker” cancer cells, though many, may not even have the ability to reproduce! Killing most of the cancer cells and leaving the CSC’s behind is a poor victory. It does take a little time for the CSC’s to produce a new colony, but the process is, unfortunately, quite rapid.
And here is more bad news: chemotherapy and radiation change the ratio of CSC’s to standard cancer cells. Since they naturally resist a harsh and toxic environment, they are more likely to withstand the treatment. To prove that cancer stem cells are responsible for the proliferation of cancer cells, a study published in the Public Library of Science (PLoS ONE) flooded cancer tumors in test subjects with a chemotherapy drug, then analyzed the residual cells: they found a much greater proportion of the cancer cells after treatment were CSC’s, while the entire tumor was much smaller. They also saw a greater expression of a certain gene (ALDH1) and associated enzymatic activity that is known to enhance resistance to the chemotherapy drug they had used. So the CSC’s generally survived, and they also adapted to the challenge of the chemotherapy, while the “worker bees” were sacrificed.
The new population that develops from the CSC’s will have even more CSC’s, and thus the next round of treatment will be less effective. But the worst news is that the new cells spawned by the CSC’s may have “learned” how to resist the toxins better and the next round of cancer will receive the genetic instructions that allow them to resist. Now you have cancer that no longer responds to the treatment that appeared to work so well the first time.
A treatment of cancer that doesn’t recognize the cancer stem cell assumes the less cancer cells, the better: simply keep killing cancer cells with chemicals or radiation, and hope the cancer doesn’t show up or “metastasize” elsewhere. If the treatment kills all the detectable cells, they declare the patient “cancer free”. But then the patient is observed carefully because they know that cancer has a tendency to reappear. They know that cancer displays a remarkable ability to adjust and outsmart the chemotherapy; many such therapies target certain pathways that the cancer uses. Deprived of one pathway, the cancer often finds another, and the drug no longer has an impact.
Now for the good news
Since CSC’s clearly do exist, how can cancer be treated? How about changing the environment that caused the CSC in the first place? CSC’s are excellent “seeds” which can metastasize readily. They are very resistant to toxins and radiation. They in fact learn to handle those conditions better than normal body cells. Because they are well suited to harsh conditions, a good, healthy environment is “unnatural” to them. As much as CSC’s are suited to a toxic environment, they are at a disadvantage in a good environment. And cells — healthy or cancerous — are always learning from their current environment, trying to adapt.
Studies are underway to explain cases where the cancer reverts back to a normal state, because that miracle happens occasionally and confounds the experts. But such reversion is completely reasonable if you consider that all cells are simply trying to survive and thrive in their environment. CSC’s tend to adapt to a clean, healthy environment by becoming dormant or eventually reverting back to a normal stem cell.
When you realize this, getting and staying healthy is the best way to avoid a cancer diagnosis in the first place. And it is also the path to reverting cancer when it does take hold, going right to the CSC source. Just don’t give cancer a reason to exist!
Dr. Nemec’s Comments:
The cancer stem cell is the root of most all cancers, and being the root you must find a healthcare facility that specializes in this approach. This is what we have done at Total Health Institute the last 36 years. People come from all over the world for our unique approach in addressing the mental and physical aspects of disease, of which cancer is one of the most devastating. How many people go through standard chemotherapy and find that it is a continual cycle of never ending toxic treatment. I had a patient in the other day and he said his oncologist remarked that he will be on chemotherapy the rest of his life. There is another way. Treat the cause, not the effect. Make an environment — physically, mentally and emotionally — where cancer stem cells cannot exist. Many people come to Total Health Institute who want to heal their diseases like cancer, but they are afraid not to do the chemotherapy. I call this the healing and killing approach. There is no problem if you are going to put toxic poison in your body for a season to kill the bulk of a tumor but also to be on an intensive and comprehensive healing program like the one we offer at Total Health Institute at the exact same time. What is hard on the body is to do the chemotherapy and radiation without doing the healing part. The PLoS study we presented stated this very clearly in saying that chemotherapy causes the formation of more cancer stem cells and turns on a gene that makes the cells resistant to the next round of chemotherapy. How can you win the war on cancer with this approach alone? We have helped many heal from major health challenges with our programs which offer a variety of choices to suit your needs:
- Outpatient Comprehensive Teaching and Treatment Program-has the most benefit of teaching, treatment, live classes and personalized coaching. This program has the most contact with Dr. Nemec with 3- 6 month programs that can be turned into a regular checking and support program for life. This is our core program that has helped so many restore their health and maintain that restoration for years.
- Inpatient Comprehensive Teaching and Treatment Program-is our four-week intensive inpatient program for those that are not in driving distance, usually over 4 hour drive. This is the program that is an intensive jumpstart with treatment, teaching, live classes and coaching designed for all our international patients along with those in the US that do not live in Illinois. This program is very effective especially when combined with our new membership program support.
- Stay at Home Program-is offered to continental US patients who cannot come to Total Health Institute but still want a more personal, customized plan to restore their health. This program also includes our Learn Membership Program.
- Membership Program is our newest program offered for those that want to work on their health at a high level and want access to the teaching at Total Health Institute along with the Forums: both Dr. Nemec’s posts and other members posting. And also, to have the chance to get personalized questions answered on the conference calls which are all archived in case you miss the call. The Membership Program has 3 levels to choose from: Learn, Overcome and Master. The difference is at the Overcome and Master levels you received one on one calls with Dr. Nemec personalizing your program for your areas of focus.