Pharyngula

Send some sympathy

Jeff, the Blue Collar Scientist, has just been diagnosed with liver cancer. Pay him a virtual visit and let him know that we expect him to get well soon and are quite pleased that modern science gives him good prospects for a long, productive, and happy life.

Comments

  1. #1 Monado
    June 6, 2008

    I wish him luck for himself and skill in his doctors.

    I can only chime in with some unproven things, at least not proven for liver cancer. For example, it was just announced that women with breast cancer have a better chance of survival if their levels of Vitamin D circulating in the bloodstream are high. And I’ve not seen any actual disproof of Linus Pauling’s Vitamin C therapy that used his dosage levels.

  2. #2 David Marjanovi?, OM
    June 6, 2008

    The practical thing about the liver is that you can cut lots of it away and it just regrows.

  3. #3 Matthew Putman
    June 6, 2008

    When I was sick with a similar illness my doctor gave me the statistics, which weren’t particularly encouraging. As a scientist I generally respect the facts, and numbers. As soon as the doctor saw my disappointment he said a very smart thing “the statistics are accurate, but they don’t keep up with the modern treatment and cures.” The statistics we look at today are the statistics of the past. So, even though I am of scientific mind, as I think you are, and not prone to belief in miracles or blind hope, I did understand what he was saying. I am doing well now, and there is a good “probability” that you will too.

  4. #4 FredS
    June 6, 2008

    #3

    Thanks for sharing your story and what your doctor told you about statistics. It’s making my day (besides the fact it’s my birthday!). My father has been battling a darn pancreatic cancer since last November, one of the worst forms of cancer out there. The statistics are gruesome. I’ll keep what your doctor told you in mind. Makes a lot of sense.

    Thanks again and good luck to you, and to the Blue Collar Scientist as well.

  5. #5 Alex
    June 6, 2008

    My best friend’s mother (mid 60′s) recently had the Whipple procedure performed. They removed parts of her liver, stomach, pancreas, and intestine. 1 out of 5 die on the table.

    That was about 6 months ago. She’s well on her way to a full recovery. She gets checked once a month now (it was every week) and no signs of cancer. But I should note, I’m sure they had about the best experts money could buy.

    This disease just needs to go away forever.

  6. #6 Sophist FCD
    June 6, 2008

    Well, that just sucks. I’ll start sending out psychic quantum healing vibrational frequencies at once, but first I need to know the position of Mars in relation to that of Jupiter at the exact moment of his birth.

    p.s. “And I’ve not seen any actual disproof of Linus Pauling’s Vitamin C therapy that used his dosage levels.”

    Science: You’re doing it wrong.

  7. #7 LOngtime Lurker
    June 6, 2008

    Good luck, we wish you well.

  8. #8 trog69
    June 6, 2008

    Best wishes to you, Matthew, and thanks for an uplifter, too.

  9. #9 dubiquiabs
    June 6, 2008

    Easy for me to say, but there’s reason for hope and stuff to do.

    Probably the most promising, and IMHO the most rational, cancer Rx in the development pipeline is based on telomerase inhibition. Most if not all Ca cells express telomerase promiscuously in cytoplasm and so present an inviting target. Several anti-telomerase Rx Phase I/II trials are under way now. Especially interesting appears to be GRN163L, a competitive inhibitor of telomerase, rumored to be the only known agent that destroys cancer stem cells and therefore the best hope for preventing recidivism. It is right now in four early trials in 15 medical centers. Mechanistic considerations, pre-clinical studies, and early trial results suggest that adverse effects are minimal.

    Also worth following are GRNVAC1 and GRNVAC2, both therapeutic cancer vaccines that depend on vaccination with dendritic cells that present telomerase antigen. The former uses the patient’s own blood and requires a tedious and expensive individualized process, the latter is as yet untested in trials, but promises off-the rack application, because it uses immune-privileged dendritic cells that are derived from embryonic stem cells. In Phase I trials on treatment-refractory prostate cancer patients, GRNVAC1 has been able to produce an immune response similar to that of, e.g., measles vaccination, without adverse effects.

    Re Vit C: Pauling & Cameron tested the vit C Hx in an open-label study on terminal colon cancer patients with 10 grams ascorbate/d intravenously for the patients’ remaining life. Creagan & Moertel purported to replicate the study but gave 10 g/d orally, thus guaranteeing failure, because of insufficient resorption and low plasma levels. They also gave vit C for only two months. Their “replication” showed no diff between vit C and placebo. As best I know, no true replication of Pauling & Cameron has been attempted. Since then, Riordan et al. have published a few case studies, that suggested efficacy and safety of high-dose (>20 g/d i.v.) ascorbate in cancer Rx. Levine’s group did in-vitro studies on cancer cells and observed ca cell death >99% @ ascorbate concentrations that would correspond to high-dose i.v. @ la Riordan. The good news is no observable toxicity, even at doses in the 50 g/d i.v. range. The bad news is that there are no human trials in ca patients.

    Re Vit D: If I had been given a Dx of cancer, I’d up my vitamin D3 intake as Monado (#1) suggests. The evidence on efficacy is mixed and there is very little re liver cancer except HepG2 cells.

    I’m not in the drug or oncology business. My interest in cancer Rx is due merely to being outraged at the misery this disease still inflicts. ID – my butt.

  10. #10 crazyharp81602
    June 6, 2008

    I wish you all the very best! Fight the Good Fight, Matthew!

  11. #11 crazyharp81602
    June 6, 2008

    Oops! My mistake! I meant, “Fight the Good Fight, Jeff! :-)

  12. #12 Bride of Shrek
    June 6, 2008

    As someone who is still in remission from cancer I cannot say I envy him the road ahead. But having said that I urge him to take strength in the skill and care of his medical team and take the time care for himself ( something we all probably need to do a little more). Positives can be had through the experience, I met many wonderful people and was inspired by the tenderness of strangers, the dedication of the nursing staff and the wisdom and skill of my surgeons/oncologists. It has made me stronger in ways I never expected.

  13. #13 Emmet Caulfield
    June 6, 2008

    Jeff, may you ultimately contribute to the good part of encouraging future statistics.

  14. #14 Leigh
    June 7, 2008

    Emmet, that may be the best way ever to send get well wishes to a scientist. On my “shameless stealing” list for sure.

  15. #15 Science Goddess
    June 7, 2008

    Liver transplant, 20 years and counting!

    SG

  16. #16 Dianne
    June 9, 2008

    And I’ve not seen any actual disproof of Linus Pauling’s Vitamin C therapy that used his dosage levels.

    This is anecdote, but Linus Pauling died of prostate cancer. And no large study of any vitamin has really shown any great benefit. I would be extremely cautious about recommending any fat soluble vitamin in a condition in which liver function is impaired.

    Liver cancer is not one of the ones we’re good at. Long term survival is rare. However, this one was caught relatively early and if BCS gets treated quickly he may be one of the “exceptions.” I wish him all the best and am very glad he’s going to a specialty clinic.

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