Can Liver Metastases Go Away On Its Own?
Many spontaneous remissions of tumors have been taken as miracles and now some think they are not, because they are based on mechanisms that are in the process of scientific clarification.
Doctors are studying the biological processes behind “spontaneous regression” to find clues that can multiply these cases of healing.
Some cancers disappear spontaneously. It is not frequent, but it happens. For some reason, immune system detects the tumor cells as the strange and pathogenic ones and kills them, so effectively that the tumor is not known again. There are no recurrences or late metastases. It is the longed for total healing. Unfortunately, the percentage of spontaneous regression cited by some studies is less than 0.01%. Perhaps it is something superior because these cures can go unnoticed when they occur before the diagnosis. It can also happen that the cured patient does not reappear due to the doctor’s appointment and the case is not registered. Spontaneous remissions are associated with other tumors such as breast, kidney adenocarcinoma, neuroblastoma, malignant melanoma, sarcomas or bladder carcinoma. But, even though the number of the lucky ones is small, the fact is that it has been an important point for the most promising weapons for the future of the fight against cancer: the immunotherapy.
The spontaneous term implies lack of apparent cause, but a review of the cases collected throughout the medical history shows that the regression usually coincides with acute infections. In the Ebers Papyrus (1550 AC.), attributed to the great Egyptian physician Imhotep, the recommended treatment for the tumors was a poultice followed by an incision that would result in tumor infection and, as a consequence, in its regression. This is the first historical evidence that links infections with spontaneous tumor remission. In the thirteenth century, Peregrine Laziozi, a young priest, was afflicted with cancer of the tibia due to which it was thought to amputate his leg. The injury grew so much that it broke the skin and became infected. Miraculously, the tumor disappeared to never return. The healing of St. Peregrine has given name to this type of regressions (tumors “St. Peregrine”). The ancient medical literature is prolix in cases of remission, generally concomitant with infections such as diphtheria, gonorrhea, hepatitis, malaria, measles, smallpox, syphilis and tuberculosis. However, currently, these cases are cited less frequently.
In 1891, William Coley, of the New York Memorial Hospital, developed a cancer therapy based on an infectious agent. Coley simulated an acute infection of natural origin, which included the induction of fever, injecting the patient for many months with toxins, possibly in the area of the tumor. Although his method was falling into oblivion, there is a record of its use in China in the eighties for the treatment of a man with terminal liver cancer. After 68 injections of Coley toxins for 34 weeks, the various liver tumors suffered by the patient had completely subsided. The current relative rarity of spontaneous regressions may be due to the immunosuppressive nature of conventional anti-cancer therapies and asepsis in surgery. Sterilization and administration of antibiotics reduce the incidence of postsurgical infections and antipyretics eliminate fever and reduce the unpleasant symptoms of the immune response.
What Happens In Cases Of Spontaneous Remission?
The big problem with cancer is that the tumor cells are as much ours as the rest of the organism. Therefore, our immune system does not usually recognize them as a danger and does not attack them. But sometimes, either by being very active fighting against an acute infection or for unknown reasons, the immune system does attack the tumor cells. And there is no better weapon than that, because wherever they are, disseminated by the organism as a seed of future metastasis or in the main tumor, they are destroyed and remain forever in the memory of the system. So, how can we help our system recognize tumor cells as pathogenic? This is precisely the goal of immunotherapy.