Close up of colourful cancer cell and DNA.

A news story broke the other day, claiming that a team of Israeli scientists had found a complete cure for cancer that would be available within a year.

Sounds incredible, right? There’s only one problem: anytime you see something that claims to be a cure for cancer, you should always approach it with skepticism. The idea of a ‘complete cure for cancer’ is fundamentally problematic when you understand what cancer actually is. Science Based Medicine explains:

“Cancer is not one disease, but a category including many related diseases. Different cancers involve different tissues, different mutations, and different behaviors and features. While some treatments are effective against a variety of cancers, there is no one treatment effective against all cancers (let alone a cure for all cancers).”

False promises of a complete cure creates confusion and preys on people’s emotions. And the underlying motivation is almost always money-driven. More than a few folks have speculated that the Israeli team was probably seeking publicity for more funding.

Fortunately, criticism from cancer experts flooded the internet shortly after the initial article was published. Scientists and researchers were quick to point out the many red flags.

Unsurprisingly, when the Israeli team was asked to publish their research to back up their claim, they refused.

As one scientist on Twitter put it, saying there’s a cure for cancer is like saying there’s a cure for car trouble.

What’s equally concerning is that well-known publications with high readerships (including NY Post, Forbes, The Sun, and CBS) shared and promoted this sensationalistic story. Had they done any digging whatsoever – had they asked just one expert in the field – they would’ve quickly discovered that the story was unfounded. Yet they did not. Or, they did and published the story anyway because it would generate clicks. Either way, it’s bad journalism.

A pile of road signs with black question marks on them

How to Tell if Something is True

But unless you have a strong science background, it can be hard to know, at first glance, if something you read about cancer is fact or fiction. Dealing with cancer is tough enough without wading through a sea of false information. Cancer patients and their families deserve better.

A good rule of thumb to go by: if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Respond to anything that feels sensationalistic with a healthy dose of skepticism. Research reputable online publications like PubMed to see if you can find evidence to back up the story. With a bit of effort and time, it can be possible to get to the truth pretty fast.

Still, it depends on the complexity of the issue. Sometimes false information about science and health issues can be really tricky to parse, especially for the average person.

“(…) you can see how easy it is for a company do a little research to find some cutting-edge technology that the public is not generally familiar with, and then wrap some extreme claims around that technology, promising some new product or treatment. You can even cite the published research to apparently support your claims. It all sounds like cutting edge technology, but it is a Potemkin village. It is a clever type of pseudoscience that can be very effective. It takes a high degree of specific scientific knowledge, and perhaps even the ability to search and understand the technical literature, to see through the deception.

There IS Hope, with Precision Oncology

Even though a cure for cancer might not be likely, there is still reason to feel hopeful about cancer treatment. Science has made huge advancements in cancer care over the years. We’re now entering a brand new phase of cancer care – shifting from the old, one-size-fits all approach of standard treatment to a new, personalized approach based on genetic mutations driving a person’s cancer. This is the era of Precision Medicine and Precision Oncology.

That’s why CTOAM offers Precision Oncology services to patients worldwide, for a fraction of the cost of treatment centres like the Mayo Clinic and MD Anderson.

Precision Oncology has yet to be adopted into standard healthcare in Canada, because it is new and our government-level healthcare infrastructure takes a long time to implement change. CTOAM exists to bridge the gap in the meantime, so that cancer patients can access these advanced diagnostics and treatments, now – until Precision Oncology becomes fully integrated into public healthcare.

Start Your Journey with Precision Oncology Today

Do you have questions about how Precision Oncology can help you?

Explore the Four Pillars of Precision Oncology to get a quick sense of what the different parts are and how they can apply to your treatment plan.

Register for a Precision Second Opinion with our medical team today to discover how we can help you live longer, with a higher quality of life.

Published by on February 1, 2019