It occurs to me that since the body has natural mechanisms to deal with cancerous cells, and since we only find cancers (in people) when they are large and intrusive, research into preventative measures for cancer is missing data on the features of those cancers that the body can fight. That information could be very helpful if we could impinge those features of cancers that our body can deal with on those cancers that we can't yet deal with. That is, it might be easier to trick faulty cells of ours to act like other faulty cells of ours (that can be dealt with by our immune response) than to attack the cancer with external and alien means. The hard question of course is how to find cancerous cells that the body is already successfully battling since they don't produce symptoms and won't last long.

This realization came to me while thinking about a friend of mine who it seems will not survive his cancer. The thought that came to me is that everybody alive is a cancer survivor because cells in the body are continuously becoming cancerous…and then being eliminated by the immune system. (As a side note, there is perfect correlation between getting cancer and dying…everybody does both.) Right now each of us has hundreds or maybe millions of cells performing cancerous behaviors, but we'll never know. As each cancerous cluster is dealt with by the body, more cells become cancerous (and exhibit other deleterious abnormalities). This is an ongoing struggle that most people's bodies can deal with…unless (or until) something knocks the system off course.

But only certain, specific things can cause such a disturbance that the body cannot cope with it. One such scenario is when the cancer affects and directly disables some of the features required by the immune response; e.g. the ability to recognize the cell as malperforming or foreign, or the cell's apoptotic or autophage functioning. But these problems (common to all malignant cancers) may arise as symptoms or simpler underlying problems such as a lack of a certain micronutrient, the presence of some foreign particles/chemicals, dehydration, excess protein accumulation (possibly as a result of something as simple as a lack of exercise), or other easily controllable factors. Of course, there are also genetically programmed features to how the body copes with any of the above, as well as just operating in general, and so we have to keep in mind genetic dispositions to develop (and fail to control) cancerous cells in certain conditions. What a mess of potentialities, but that's life.

One final thought on the cancer subject. It occurs to me that certain cells become cancerous at much higher rates than other cells. For example, we know that white blood cells rather easily become cancerous (and probably play a major role in cancer metastasis), but has a lens cell ever become cancerous? As far as I know brain tumors are not caused by neurons becoming cancerous. Do these long lived cells have a special mechanism by which they avoid turning cancerous? Can we repurpose that mechanism to help other cells cope? The code to produce those mechanisms exists in every cell in the body. If we can supply cancerous cells with the necessary nutrients and activate the relevant genes (possibly using a transposase) then perhaps we can get those cancer cells that our body has failed to deal with under control. Again, this would only use mechanisms native to the body and so should be a gentler and more effective treatment path.