The application of research methodology to cancer research

Unfortunately the impressive list of advancements in the science of medicine appears to have led to a decline in the art of medicine. Patients complain increasingly that high tech' medicine dehumanises them. In the eternal quest for a new and better treatment for every known ailment we have started to forget the other important needs of sick people The preceding chapters of this book have focused principally on the 'scientific' advances in cancer treatment that have been primarily led by...

Predisposing factors to developing cancer

As society becomes more affluent, so the incidence of cancer can be demonstrated to rise. There could be a number of explanations for this, including increased wealth and improved health care enabling individuals to achieve a greater life expectancy than their grandparents (Gabriel, 2001). People are also surviving previously life-threatening illnesses, such as infectious diseases, major accidents, etc., only to live longer and possibly to develop cancer later in life. We also know that more...

The immune surveillance theory

The immune surveillance theory put forward by Thomas in 1959 and redefined by Burnet (1967) states that the immune system is constantly patrolling the body for tumour (abnormal) cells, which are recognized as foreign, and mounts an immune response that results in their elimination before they become clinically detectable (Burnet, 1967). Although this concept remains controversial, a wide range of evidence supports it. First, cancer patients with tumours infiltrated by many immune cells (e.g....

Adaptive acquired specific immune response

In many situations, the non-specific immune responses described above (e.g. phagocytosis, NK cell activation, inflammation), with which we are born and that occur in the first few hours of infection, may be sufficient to overcome the pathogens. If not, disease can ensue and the body may recover after the activation of adaptive immune responses against the invading pathogens (see Figure 7.1). There are two types of adaptive immune responses, namely antibody-mediated immune (AMI) responses and...