Good news: We are winning the war on cancer

A patient with rosacea shows a more flushed, rosy complexion before treatment (l) than after treatment (r).

In the war on cancer, we are living in unique and wonderful times. The last several years have shown the development of several new approaches to the treatment of cancer that are proving to be very promising and effective.

In the past, the three most important strategies in the treatment of cancer involved surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. With a better understanding of our immune system, we’ve been able to develop four new specific strategies that are targeting and treating cancers better than ever.

Photo courtesy of Dr. Crutchfield
Photo courtesy of Dr. Crutchfield

Checkpoint inhibitors

The immune system is incredibly powerful, and if it is turned on completely the immune system can attack normal tissues causing widespread destruction and even death. As a result, the immune system operates with a safety guard, a kind of “braking system,” to keep it from turning full on and launching an attack on healthy cells.

These safeguards are called “checkpoints.” Many cancer cells exploit this protective mechanism by sending signals to the immune system that they are normal; they are okay; don’t attack. Because of this trick, many cancer cells can avoid detection and destruction from the immune system.

Scientists have now discovered ways of introducing drugs made from custom-made proteins that rev up and turn on the immune system. By allowing the immune system to pass the checkpoints, they are called “checkpoint inhibitors.”

The immune system, specifically the T-cells of the immune system, have to pass through several checkpoints before they can be unleashed and turned on. These checkpoints are for our safety.

If you can get around the checkpoints, you can turn the immune system on to attack. And that’s what the checkpoint inhibitors do; they rev up the immune system so that the T-cells can attack the malignancies.

The war on cancer has had significant advances, especially to liquid- or blood-born cancer such as certain types of leukemia and lymphoma. However, when it comes to solid malignancies such as cancer of the lungs and skin, many of the checkpoint inhibitors are providing high hopes, especially in clinical trials. In fact, almost 25 percent of patients with advanced solid tumor malignancies have shown promising remissions and or excellent responses to these types of treatments.

Photo courtesy of Dr. Crutchfield
Photo courtesy of Dr. Crutchfield

Immune cell vaccine

The second strategy in attacking cancers is a cancer cell vaccine. In this type of system, specific immune cells that normally patrol the system looking for abnormal cells and malignant cells are taken from the patient and mixed with their tumor cells, outside the body.

This process educates these types of immune attack cells, called dendritic cells, to recognize the malignant cells better than they did inside the body. Then they are put back into the body, and they attack cancer. This is partially similar to the way vaccinations work, hence the term “immune cell vaccine.”


Combination of chimeric cell therapy

The third type of strategy in treating malignancies involves something called the combination cell or “chimeric cell.” There are particular types of immune cells called T-cells. There is a pretty slick trick where they extract a T-cell from a patient’s body and mix it with a specific virus.

This virus infects the T-cell and causes it to have special sticky proteins on its surface. These sticky proteins are excellent at recognizing specific malignancies, especially those of the liquid form, that is, blood-born malignancies such as leukemia and lymphoma.

Photo courtesy of Dr. Crutchfield
Photo courtesy of Dr. Crutchfield

These combination cells float freely in the blood and recognize blood-born malignancies. They bind to the malignant cells in the blood and destroy them. The reason they call them chimeric cells is because they are a combination of two types of cells — an immune cell and a virus.

Microbiome enhancement

The fourth new strategy in the war on cancer involves something entirely unique. It involves something called the microbiome. The microbiome is composed of all the bacteria that live within our bodies, typically in a safe and friendly manner.

It includes but isn’t limited to most of the bacteria that live in our gastrointestinal tract (gut). These friendly bacteria live within us in a complementary manner and often can produce different proteins and chemical signals that assist our immune system in doing a better job.

Photo courtesy of Dr. Crutchfield
Photo courtesy of Dr. Crutchfield

Many people eat certain yogurts called probiotics to increase the nature of good bacteria in their gastrointestinal tract. In fact, it’s found that certain compositions of bacteria seem to be present when the immune system does a better job of fighting off malignancies.

Scientists are right now studying the different types of probiotics and bacteria that can live in our bodies that will support immune health and the ability to fight malignancies. The microbiome is so important to our overall health that I view it as another organ!

In conclusion

Although the war on cancer is not over, I’m delighted to report that right now we have some of the best tools ever available in the fight against cancer. In fact, former president Jimmie Carter used some of these tools to have a complete remission of malignant melanoma that metastasized to his brain.

If you or a loved one is diagnosed with cancer, it’s not the same prognosis that it was even a few short years ago. Talk to your physician about a combination of therapies including traditional surgery, radiation and chemotherapy along with the four new strategies discussed today, including checkpoint inhibitors, immune cell vaccines, chimeric cell treatment for blood malignancies, and manipulation of a patient’s microbiome, the friendly bacteria that live within us that can augment our immune system.

The war on cancer has never looked better than it does today.


Charles E. Crutchfield III, MD is a board-certified dermatologist and Clinical Professor of Dermatology at the University of Minnesota Medical School. He also has a private practice in Eagan, MN. He has been selected as one of the top 10 dermatologists in the United States by Black Enterprise magazine and one of the top 21 African American physicians in the U.S. by the Atlanta Post. Dr. Crutchfield is an active member of the Minnesota Association of Black Physicians,


One Comment on “Good news: We are winning the war on cancer”

  1. This is typical hype put out by corporate medicine, of course, written by one of its high-paid members and salespeople.

    The orthodox cancer establishment has been saying a cure for cancer “is just around the corner” and “we’re winning the war on cancer” for decades. It’s all hype and lies (read Guy Faguet’s ‘War on cancer” or Sam Epstein’s work).

    Since the war on cancer began orthodox medicine hasn’t progressed in their basic highly profitable therapies: it still uses only highly toxic, deadly things like radiation, chemo, surgery, and drugs that have killed millions of people instead of the disease.

    As long as the official “war on cancer” is a HUGE BUSINESS based on EXPENSIVE TREATMENTS of a disease instead of its prevention, logically, “they will never find a cure for cancer.” The lucrative game of the medical business is to endlessly “look for” a cure but not “find” a cure. Practically all resources in the ‘war on cancer’ are poured into treating cancer but almost none in the prevention of the disease.

    At the same time, this same orthodox cancer cartel has been suppressing and squashing a number of very effective and beneficial alternative cancer approaches. You probably guessed why: effective, safe, inexpensive cancer therapies are cutting into the astronomical profits of the medical mafia’s lucrative treatments. That longstanding decadent activity is part of the fraud of the war on cancer.

    If the public were to scrutinize what the medical industry and their government pawns are telling them about the ‘war on cancer’ instead of blindly believing what they’re saying, they’d find that the cancer industry and the cancer charities have been dismissing, ignoring, and obfuscating the true causes of cancer while mostly putting the blame for cancer on the individual, denying or dismissing the serious harms from orthodox cancer treatments, and resorting to deceptive cancer statistics to “educate” (think: mislead) the public that their way of treatment is actually successful (read the well referenced epilogue of an article if you google “A Mammogram Letter The British Medical Journal Censored” and scroll down to the afterword).

    What the medical establishment “informs” the public about is about as truthful as what the political establishment keeps telling them. Not to forget, the corporate media is a willing tool to spread these distortions, lies, and the scam of the war on cancer.

    Do you really think it’s a coincidence that Nobel laureate Linus Pauling called the ‘war on cancer’ a “fraud”? If you look closer you’ll come to the same conclusion.

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