On the occasion of the “Crayfish” exhibition at the Cité des sciences et de l’industrie in Paris, attention was drawn to this disease, which arose 500 million years ago. Cancer is the leading cause of death in men and the second leading cause of death in women.
Each of us has a family member, friend, colleague, neighbor who has cancer. In France, 4 million people live or have experienced these diseases because we should talk about cancer in the plural.
why crab karkinosstill a taboo disease in ancient Greek, even if things are changing fast?
To Frederick Thomas, Head of Research: “Cancer is one of the most difficult diseases to treat and psychologically fight becauselooks like internal betrayal.”
What are the new treatment methods, what are the alternatives to chemotherapy? What are the reasons for hope in patients, especially the youngest?
This show deals with the taboo surrounding cancer, as well as the new treatments that can benefit us.
The disease is still taboo
In our society, we do not talk about death, it is the highest taboo. When we find out we have cancer, we are afraid to die.
This is a disease that has consequences in all spheres of life: professional, family, social. For Julien Bisson, Editor-in-Chief 1, this cancer taboo cannot continue. Indeed, in particular due to the aging of the population, there will be more and more of them.
For Pascal Puchol, a medical geneticist who specializes in oncology, there is too too much guilt associated with cancer: “I think there is too much guilt today. Cancer is not a new disease, far from it. It existed in dinosaurs. Obviously, there is a part of the environment associated with cancer, but it is not that big. Obviously, it is up to us to follow the rules of life that minimize cancer. But I’m dealing with childhood cancer, and there’s no evidence today that the environment plays a role in a lot of childhood cancers, and I think the idea that the environment, mismanaging stress, mismanaging our diet can lead to guilt always leads to cancer.“
For Frederick Thomas, the lack of knowledge about cancer also creates silence and fear: “It’s extremely dark for a lot of people, and when it’s dark, it’s anxiety-inducing.”
Not one, but crayfish
There are over 200 different types of cancer. There are three main groups: carcinomas, lymphomas or leukemias, and finally sarcomas.
They have common points, as Pascal Pujol explains: “It is common knowledge: a cancer cell has genetic abnormalities and this is the same for all cancers. Not that the origin of cancer is genetic, in the hereditary sense, but actually cancer is triggered when a cell acquires genetic abnormalities. This is an absolutely constant mechanism, regardless of the type of cancer.”
Frederick Thomas reminds us that cancer is very old and affects all multicellular species. He explains the origin: “Before being a disease, cancer is a biological process which appeared when life changed from unicellular to multicellular. This is an important transition in the history of life, and this transition required that the many cells that make up multicellular organisms – in a way a society of clones – give up their own reproduction in order to participate in the collective. And in fact, some of these cells, accidentally mutated, sink into a form of single-celled selfishness. And when our defenses are bypassed, this conflict of interest between the individual and the collective is not properly suppressed. This leads to this anarchic proliferation and therefore to cancer.”
Many developments for oncological diseases in children
In the 1970s, childhood cancer mortality rates were very high, about 75% of deaths. Today, thanks to scientific research, the mortality rate has decreased, according to WHO, in high-income countries. Indeed, more than 80% of children with cancer recover. In low- and middle-income countries, less than 30% of children recover.
These are specific cancers for which researchers would like to achieve a 100% cure. As Lawrence Konezil, co-curator of the “Crayfish” exhibition, notes: “We see that we are working on very specific models that are very different from adult cancer models, and so here also we believe that this will open new avenues, new positive perspectives in the treatment of cancer in children.”
Cancer, what reasons for hope?
For guests, immunotherapy, in the case of some types of cancer, gives great hope. They cause, in particular, metastatic malignant melanoma and some types of colon cancer.
We have talked a lot about template RNA for the Covid vaccine, but it also has implications for the fight against cancer, as Pascal Pujol* explains: “I think today we have a path to the future in terms of usingmessenger RNA as well as in medicine, oncology and rare diseases”.*
Frederick Thomas looks at the whole living world. Some animals do not have as many cancerous tumors as might be expected, while their individuals have very large numbers of cells. He explains that it also drives research: “This is because they have managed to introduce natural secrets to better manage cancer problems, thus preventing them, better killing cancer cells or better tolerating tumors. So, for us, evolutionary biologists, it is extremely interesting to look into the DNA, into the physiology of these organisms. What are the secrets to better coping with cancer? Because they can obviously be a source of new ideas for therapy.
You should know that currently every second cancer is curable.
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Julien Bisson, editor-in-chief of the weekly “Le 1”. Columnist on Wednesdays for “Grand bien vous faire”.
On newsstands: “Le 1” (#418) – “Crayfish, everything that has changed” from Wednesday, October 12, 2022.
Pascal Pujol, medical geneticist specializing in oncology. University professor-practitioner of the hospital at the University of Montpellier. Head of the oncogenetic department of the Montpellier University Hospital. Author of the book “Beyond Chemotherapy” (published by humenSciences, October 5, 2022).
Lawrence Conezilco-curator (with Maud Gui) of the Cancer exhibition from September 6, 2022 to August 8, 2023, in partnership with the National Cancer Institute (INCa) at the Cité des sciences et de l’industrie in Paris.
Philippe Caveriviersponsor Association Lev which works to help children with cancer and their families. Columnist of France 2.
Frederick Thomas, CNRS scientific leader in the Infectious Diseases and Vectors: Ecology, Genetics, Evolution and Control Laboratory (Mivegec). Co-director (with Benjamin Roche) of the Center for Ecological and Evolutionary Cancer Research (Crick) in Montpellier. Author of The Hideous Mystery of Cancer (Foreword by Pascal Puchol), Alpha/Humensis, reissued in paperback March 27, 2019.
So here is the chronicle Baptist Beaulieu
Chronicle of health of Thierry Lhermittesponsor FRM