There is not much more disturbing to the human mind than the thought of cancer or cardiac arrest. In some clinical circles, it is well-known that our psyches are captured by the two “Big Cs”—cancer and cardiac disease.
This month, we are focusing on cancer and the emerging technology of screening for several of the most common and most serious. Great strides have been made in our ability to elucidate the propensity for a cancer to express itself. There is significant controversy regarding these screening tests. The arguments revolve around the anxiety that these tests provoke relative to the predictability of these tests—the presence of a marker does not confirm that a disease actually exists. I like to point out to my patients that most of the cancer screening tests are just tools in the tool box to help them fix a problem. I try to explain that the genetic code (test) does not exonerate nor convict them of a malignancy.
The single most important concept is epigenetics which is the cellular environment surrounding the gene and influences its expression. Therefore the importance of their “lifestyle” cannot be overstated. When combined with cancer screening, lifestyle management is the most effective way to influence the expression of any of these diseases—tobacco, obesity, alcohol, animal fats, trans-fats, nitrites, and diabetes, to name a few. I hope you find this month’s review interesting and motivating.