I worked for about 5 years in a cytogenetics lab helping to diagnose leukemia. I then moved to an important public funded cancer research center in Germany for my 4 years PhD. My work focused on how cell division is screwed up in cancer. I am currently continuing to work as a postdoc. I developed an interest in science communication and in particular on how cancer is percieved from non-scientists.

The AMA is still not over, I will keep answering as fast as I can.

Here is my bench: http://i.imgur.com/NItuZ6P.jpg My PhD certificate: http://i.imgur.com/oMMNpuY.jpg

Comments: 550 • Responses: 64  • Date: 

WombatScared41 karma

A lot of people in the vegan community say that meat causes cancer, and they use this as a selling point for veganism. Does meat cause a direct correlation to getting cancer? (Kind of a broad question in terms of different Cancers, but generally speaking).

ukitel65 karma

Long-term red meat consumption causes a modest but significant risk of getting colon cancer. Important points: long-term, red meat, modest. To notice this effect you have to consume high amounts for long time. The effect is noticeable for red meat (beef, pork) only, not chicken, not fish. The increase is modest, but it is there. Does a small amount of red meat, once in a while, cause a smaller increase in colon cancer? We don't know. This is a growing field and we are starting to get enough data to give recommendations about how to prevent cancer through diet, guidelines can be found on several government websites. Reducing the consumption of red meat helps for sure.

Justmetalking7 karma

A colorectal surgeon once told me, Americans diet is what keeps him in business. I'm sure the comment was tongue in cheek, but still...

ukitel3 karma

American diet is pretty unbalanced and very rich in red meat, which is increasing risk of colorectal cancer. Here in Germany, people also consume a lot of red meat... I try to downscale it as much as I can, but it is really difficult if that's the only thing they serve.

Hellotherellen34 karma

I've always understood that cancer is easiest to beat when caught in its early stages. But how do you catch cancer? I'm sure there isn't one test for all types of it? Do you just go to the doctor with random problems you're having and they diagnose it? If so, how can I make sure I'm asking the right questions at checkups so I can know I have a chance of finding it (if I have it) quick enough?

Hopefully those questions made sense. Basically: how can I catch cancer before it's too late

ukitel31 karma

Very interesting question. You have a good point: cancer can be cured with very high probability if caught at an early stage (small size, not spread). However, cancer very often is diagnosed at late stages, because it doesn't give specific symptoms (if at all) during the early stage. So, unfortunately, very often there is no specific sign to look for and get suspicious. But there are two things you can do: prevention and screening. Quitting smoking, healthy diet, doing sports not only are effective cancer prevention strategies, but can prevent other diseases as well. Cancer screenings like mammography, colonoscopy, PAP test are doing a great job in detecting those frequent cancers, before it is too late. You can talk to your doctor during a general checkup, asking about what screenings are available, if your diet is balanced and so on.

Hellotherellen9 karma

Regarding the healthy diet: do antioxidants and other claims companies make will lessen the chance of cancer really work?

What about on the opposite side of the spectrum? Do fried foods, burnt food, microwaves, Etc really increase the chance of cancer?

ukitel21 karma

Vegetables contain lots of antioxidants. Antioxidants protect cells from damage of free radicals and there is plenty of evidence that they counteract the action of carcinogenic agents in experimental conditions. However, scientists are not sure that increasing antioxidant intake in diet can prevent cancer development. In some studies, giving vitamin (some vitamins are antioxidant) supplements actually increased cancer risk instead of decreasing it. So it seems that to give a protective effect, antioxidant should be taken from vegetables or, in alternative, that the protective effect comes from a different molecule. Burnt food can increase cancer risk. However, this is true mainly for burnt red meat. Vegetables do not seem to cause a significant increase. Deep frying, if not done properly, can produce acrylammide, which is classified as carcinogenic. Microwaves actually work more like boiling food, rather than frying/burning. I am not aware of any scientific evidence of deleterious effects of microwaves on food. I think you will find very interesting this video which covers both antioxidants and burnt food in their relationship to cancer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LlJQdRFfucQ


Why do elephants have such low cancer rates, and what can we learn from them that might apply to humans?

ukitel27 karma

Animals in the wild have apparently low cancer rates only because they are less likely to survive to old age and our statistics is mostly based on occasional reports. However, it is true that elephant and big animals are composed by a huge amount of cells and we would expect an increasing chance to develop cancer with animal size. This is known as Peto's paradox. There is a very new study about it which basically tells mechanisms are in place to suppress cancer growth in these big animals. Elephants, for example, have multiple copies of a gene called p53. P53 is nicknamed "the guardian of the genome", it is probably the signle most important gene put in place between us and cancer. Having more copies of it decreases the chances of disrupting its function completely.

calb198812 karma

I see a lot of articles posted recently by people about marijuana and cancer, is there any truth what so ever behind all the claims or is it propaganda?

ukitel12 karma

Marijuana contains a lot of different molecules. One of them (and only this one) is receiving a lot of interest: THC. Research is ongoing. Scientists are still trying to figure out how this molecule works in detail and IF can be exploited for cancer therapy.

JennyRL12 karma

How important is diet in cancer prevention/treatment? Can we eat to cure cancer?

ukitel25 karma

A good balanced diet will maintain your body healthy. It is like having a car and taking good care of it. If you take good care of your car, you will less likely break it, you won't need to do major fixes and it'll last long. This doesn't mean that you won't have accidents or that it cannot break. It also doesn't mean that once it IS broken, you can fix it by normal maintenance. A good balanced diet will help in keeping your body healthy and in good shape. Diet won't ensure to avoid cancer. And if you get cancer than you need to go to the doctor and get special treatment, because general maintenance is not enough.

JennyRL4 karma

Thanks for the info!

ukitel12 karma

When it comes to your body, it is very important to have really good care of it. Differently from cars, we cannot get a new one ;)

George_E_Hale11 karma

Multiple myeloma. Are survival rates of 3 years + uncommon?

ukitel7 karma

It is not uncommon: a bit less than two thirds, however this number does NOT take into account age, sex, risk factors and so on. Moreover, it is based on past data, because by definition you can calculate it on patients which were diagnosed at least 3 years ago. Myeloma therapy offers MANY options and it is improving really fast. Patients treated now definitely have even better chances.

daneqbal2310 karma


Just wanted to know what, in your opinion, is the biggest barrier at the moment between researchers and the next breakthrough in cancer prevention/cure? I've seen you mention different types of cancers and not yet understanding the immune system completely, but is/are there other factor(s)?

ukitel16 karma

I think that the biggest barrier is investment in clinical trials. Clinical trials are our only tool that can tell us if something works or not. Unfortunately, they are also very, very, very expensive. Right now, the high costs of clinical trial pushes industries to invest only in a safe way that is in very frequent diseases and where they know with high confidence that it is gonna work. Moreover, due to safety regulations we know nothing about drugs that we already have and their efficacy on other types of disease: if a drug is approved for EGFR-mutated breast cancer, you cannot use it on EGFR-mutated lung cancer, even if we are talking about the same target (EGFR) present in two different cancers. A health insurance company won't cover the costs of something that is not approved. Of course, there is a high risk to lose your money. Similarly, industries are not always happy about this off-label treatments because there is high chance that it won't work (bad publicity for the drug). I think that reshaping the way we finance clinical trials and making it easier to try off-label treatment would help a lot in this regard... Maybe better treatment schedules are under our nose and we can't notice it, because there is too much fear to try and lose money.

ChristianW200010 karma

Can everbody get a cancer?

ukitel7 karma

In principle, yes. I am not aware of any reason why some people would be immune to it. Between 2 in 3 people and 1 in 2 people will develop cancer during their lifetime.

05Lanky053 karma

Don't we all have cancer (Well tumors) pretty much every day, but our bodies defenses pick it up, but this is where it tends to go wrong with cancer patients (Such as mutations in oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes) and therefore cancer forms. I'm pretty sure i got taught this at one point.

Damn i remember being really interested in this when i studied it but since i've stopped studying (3/4 years?) my information is so wishwashy.

Damn this topic's interesting.

ukitel8 karma

Yes, cells can slip out of control to a various degree at any moment. If you performed an autopsy on a young healthy person, you would definitely find some very small tumor somewhere in the body. Most of tumors do not manage to get to diagnosis, there regress or remain stable forever. The more our diagnostic technology is improving the more we are able to detect some of those small cancers that will never pose a threat to life. This is the overdiagnosis problem that some screening have. If you have more questions I'll be happy to answer them.

sumant2810 karma

I've seen many sources suggest that increased IGF1 levels from meat and dairy consumption are a risk factor for the growth and spread of cancer, can you comment on the validity of that?

ukitel5 karma

The relationship between IGF1 levels and cancer are complicated. It is probably true that IGF1 can make cancer cells grow faster, but if this truly happen in patients... It is too early to say. Anyway there is no need to be afraid of eating meat or dairy, as long as it is in the context of a balanced diet.

Rajoovi18 karma

How do you feel about the "the cure for cancer is being kept secret to keep prices up" conspiracy theory?

ukitel18 karma

I think that if such a cure existed it would make industry richer, not poorer. By definition it would be sold at a higher price, as compared to current therapies. This conspiracy fails at considering that industry is not the only player in research. Actually, most of the research for a cure is publicly funded. Moreover, the amount of people working on cancer, all over the world, is large. The more people are involved, the less likely is to keep a secret. There are reasons, very good reasons, why a cure is not out yet, but they are about our understanding of cancer biology, not profit.

doughnu77 karma

A few years ago my mother was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome and earlier this year she died of acute myeloid leukaemia.

Would you be able to explain what was happening inside her body in the last few days as it was slowly shut down?

Additionally, while we are in different countries I would like to express my gratitude for the studies and work you are doing to help others. Thank you.

ukitel9 karma

I am sorry for your loss, I worked for long time helping in the diagnosis of diseases like myelodysplasia and acute leukemia, I feel very much for situations like this.

Stem cell in the bone marrow produce all cells that are found in your blood and stem cell division is strictly regulated so that the final number of blood cells in normal.

In myelodyplasia and even more in leukemia, one of these cells starts dividing out of control. The offspring of this renegade cell tries to produce mature blood cells, however it fails at it and accumulate at an immature stage. The few mature cells that are produced are mostly not functional. Eventually, the bone marrow is engulfed with leukemic cells that divide without really producing blood cells.

The normal bone marrow cells feel this crowdedness and interpret it as a signal to stop dividing. The results is that now the blood does not contain enough mature cells for fighting infections, clotting blood and transporting oxygen.

Eventually the body surrenders to an infection, an internal hemorrhage or the general status of degeneration.

weaselsocrazy7 karma

How do you feel about sites like thetruthaboutcancer.org?

ukitel12 karma

I am afraid some people might lose or delay their best shot at getting treated by trusting these websites. This is one of the reasons I am doing this AMA, so that you can see that there are real people on the other side, willing to listen and answer the truth without hiding anything.

Hellotherellen5 karma

Since medicine is always evolving, what used to be a giant problem that most likely assured death in the past is no longer as serious due to advances in healthcare. I'm not well versed in medicine, but I'm assuming things like pneumonia, HIV, diabetes, etc used to be a more serious health risk than it is today.

How many years approximately are we away from cancer being a minor, simple treatment, non life threatening issue?

ukitel5 karma

Very good point. I totally share your point of view on evolving medicine. Right now, some types of cancer are already minor, non-life threatening (e.g. chronic myeloid leukemia, testicular cancer). And right now, many new interesting therapeutical approaches are being developed. However, it takes quite some time before getting them into the clinical practice. I can't say how long it will take for all types of cancer, but I think in the next 20 years, we'll be able to keep the most common cancer types (breast, lung, colon, prostate) under control. My 2 cents.

ikagadeska5 karma

I understand some strides in leukemia and glioblastoma research have been made:

1) A science team at Stanford did when actually trying to keep B-cell leukemia cells alive post extraction, inadvertently matured the cells turning them into immune cells to actually assist in destroying the remaining cancer cells.

2) PVS-RIPO is a genetically engineered poliovirus that is being investigated as a new anti-cancer agent at the Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at Duke. (a piece of genetic code of a cold-causing rhinovirus was spliced into the poliovirus genome). PVS-RIPO naturally infects almost all cancer cells, because the receptor for poliovirus (which is used for cell entry) is abnormally present on most tumor cells. PVS-RIPO kills cancer cells, but not normal cells, because its ability to grow (and kill) depends on biochemical abnormalities only present in cancer cells.

Have you encountered any trials of these items as of yet?

ukitel2 karma

I have heard of the 2nd strategy, but I am not informed about clinical trials. Anyway, all clinical trials in USA are registered on https://clinicaltrials.gov/

thomaaa4 karma

What are your thoughts on the future of cancer treatment? Will nanotechnology come to the fore? Genetic treatments? Thanks for doing this AMA!

ukitel3 karma

I think immunotherapy will come first. Then, very probably gene therapy. Nanotechnology will also come, I have seen some very interesting application (for diagnosis) very recently. I think there is also a lot of space to improve surgery (e.g. some lung cancers and liver cancer cannot be removed if they are in the wrong place).

LionMan44 karma

Some people believe cancer rates are higher nowadays because we are better at detecting it, and others believe that they are higher due to environmental destruction, distance from nature, pollutants ect. Why do you believe cancer rates are higher now than they were in previous decades? How do you think the overall global state of the environment affects global cancer rates?

ukitel3 karma

The two hypothesis are not excluding each other. Indeed, I think, it is a mixture of both. Two examples on each side: Diagnostic methods have greatly improved, nowadays we are even detecting cancers at such an early stage that we don't know if it makes sense treating them or not. Lifestyle has changed a lot in the last century: there are many more obese people now than before and obesity is a known risk factor for developing cancer.

Wolfwillrule4 karma

Say we cure cancer, and heart disease and every other major illness, what stops mortality?

ukitel4 karma

Aging would stop immortality

texon93454 karma

In the internert there are a lot of news about the ultimate cancer curing plant, but the pharmaindustry won't give us this treatment cause they can earn more money with the long term treatments. Is this true?

ukitel11 karma

Plants and fungi are a great source of molecules that can have great anti-cancer potential. We put them in a petri dish and see if they kill cancer cells. We get very enthusiastic about it and that's where big titles on news come from. However, reality is much different. There are many steps between putting a molecule in a dish and injecting it in a cancer patient. Remember this: https://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/cells.png

Anablue3 karma

When someone is diagnosed with breast cancer, what does it mean when they say, stage 0?

ukitel3 karma

Cancer starts from one cell. Before you can call it cancer, it has to slip out of control, to grow, to acquire blood vessels and, importantly, to invade surrounding tissues. Most often, when cancer comes back is from other places where it had spread before surgery. Stage 0 is a cancer so small that it hasn't started to invade its surroundings. It is also called "in situ", which means "in position", "local".

citruscanned3 karma

One of my friends was just diagnosed with ALL. Can you tell me what the potential causes for this cancer is and what the end result generally is for that type of cancer?

ukitel3 karma

very difficult to know about the causes A young patient with ALL has very high chances of being cured

NSFForceDistance3 karma

Any sage advice for those of us just starting out PhDs?

ukitel3 karma

What I learned is that a good supervisor is better than a good project. I found very important to keep a private life that does not deal with science, to relax, not to overwork. To work smarter, not harder: if things do not work, stop and read. Most of the what you need has already been published. And remember that it doesn't matter how many times you fail an experiment, you just need to make it work once (and then make it repeatable).

sgshubham3 karma

We see that a lot of celebrities - sportsmen, musicians get cancer. Is it because of their lifestyle, or is it at all dependent of a person's lifestyle?

ukitel3 karma

You get on the news only if celebrities get cancer. A celebrity not getting cancer wouldn't interest anyone. It is called "sampling bias": if I throw a coin and I am allowed to hide you the results half of the times, I can convice you I have a double-headed coin. Think about it ;)

Yorkies_Everywhere3 karma

I keep seeing rumors about research not wanting to find a cure because cancer research is being treated more like an industry. Do you ever feel that cancer research is becoming an industry?

Also, I have Barretts Esophagus, which I was told increases my already marginal risk of esophageal cancer. What warning signs should I be on the lookout for?

ukitel2 karma

There are industries playing for their own profit, but finding a cure would be in their interest as well. Anyway, most of the research done on finding a cure is performed by publicly funded institutes. Researchers are free to investigate what they believe is promising.

If you have barrett's esophagus there are some therapies that can lower the risk of getting esophageal cancer. Moreover, you could get frequent check-ups (gastroscopy). Your doctor can advice you much better than me.

takeiteasy9163 karma

I've heard cancer explained simply as "cancer is when cells forget how to die". Can you explain what that means in more depth?

ukitel2 karma

Not only cell division is regulated, but also cell death. Many cells are ordered to die for the sake of the whole organism. The programmed cell death is called apoptosis. Tumor growth can happen both when cells proliferate when they shouldn't and when they don't die when they should. Cancer cells are often resistant to stimuli inducing apoptosis.

genebadd13 karma

What are your thoughts on alternative treatments like the Gerson diet?

ukitel3 karma

If it is listed here, I wouldn't trust it. That's a start http://www.quackwatch.org/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/cancer.html

_perpetual_student_3 karma

No huge burning questions about cancer, but I want to congratulate you on your PhD.

What are your thoughts on the process people have to go through to earn a PhD? I know people often attempt and fail, but with any medical research and the cost prohibitive education needed to do really research effectively, how would you consider changing or maintaining the current system to encourage the best people to attempt to becoming medical researchers?

ukitel2 karma

PhD is hard in the sense that it deals a lot with failure. Most of your time (70%-90%) is spent at failing experiments. No matter how we change the system, this particular thing won't change. But I think everybody should be able to follow their own passion, or at least try, challenge themselves. The number of PhDs has been constantly increasing (we are cheap and work a lot), suggesting that there are many people interested in contributing to research. However, there are not enough academic positions for PhDs and these people end up doing other things. I would try to balance that by investing even more in research... It is such a pity to lose great minds because there is no space for them.

bandalooper2 karma

My brother is being treated for orapharyngeal cancer that lodged between his carotid artery and jugular vein. He's responding well to chemo and radiation so things look good, considering.

I was surprised by what he told me the docs said about the link between HPV from oral sex and orapharyngeal cancer. It sounded like it's fairly common and I had never heard of it. I always thought of HPV as an issue for females, I suppose.

What more can you tell us about orapharyngeal cancer or others that are of concern from intimate contact?

ukitel2 karma

HPV is a virus that can infect both male and females. Almost all world population is sooner or later infected by HPV. However, only some specific types of HPV can give cancer and this is less frequent. HPV mainly infect genital tract, however oral cavity can also be infected in some cases. Oral sex is one way the virus can pass from the genitals to the oral cavity. There is an ongoing debate on whether suggesting HPV vaccination to males as well, to stop them from infecting females and putting them at risk. Having had gonorrhea, another venereal disease, is connected to prostate cancer, but the reason for this correlation is unclear. I can't come up with other examples.

Good luck to your brother!

imthatguy252 karma

How close are you guys getting to curing cancer?.

ukitel7 karma

Some types of cancer can be cured right now if caught in time. The cure for cancer won't appear all of a sudden. We'll most likely increase the likelihood of cure bit by bit first for some cancers and then for others. Eventually people won't die of cancer anymore without we even noticing.

rsschomp2 karma

What's a typical career path for a cancer researcher and what advice would you give to a 12 year old who wants to cure cancer when they grow up?

ukitel8 karma

I would tell this child to stay curious, to always dare to ask and to never be afraid of saying "I don't know".

yiorgaks2 karma

I understand that this issue has not been studied enough due to it being a new technology and all but do you believe that e-cigarettes could pose a carcinogenic risk to people (both users and second-hand)? As well, do you think health institutions should consider their implementation as a means of assisting smokers with cessation of their habit?

ukitel3 karma

I don't know the problem in enough detail to answer this question. As far as I know, carcinogenic agents have been detected in small amounts, whether those amounts are enough to pose a significant risk (more than let's say living in a polluted city), I really don't know.

danosmanca2 karma

How likely is immunology to be the source for an effective treatment for many types of cancers? I am starting a clinical rotation this in a few weeks and want to look into this as a research project.

ukitel2 karma

Very likely. It is a very active field, there is still a lot to be done, but I am convinced that it will be soon another branch of cancer therapy together with radiation, chemotherapy, targeted-therapy and surgery.

ForgotHowToAdult2 karma

I've heard many people saying that cancer research is a very cutthroat field. That you can barely trust your co-workers not to steal your data. Is that your experience?

ukitel8 karma

Personally, I didn't experience anything like this. However, my boss always warned me to share unpublished data too easily based on his personal experience and I witnessed some collaborators not behaving fair in this regard. However, in general you can trust your collegues and even your competitors. I got the most helpful advices from my competitors, my project relied a lot on their previous data. Imho, collaboration, and not competition, is what really drives science.

Daveleeog2 karma

Do all cancer cells have an increased growth speed? I understand that the cells become unresponsive to signals that control the cycles and they can even become immune to cell death. If the cells do have an increased growth speed, would there be any significance in regards to growing cells in a lab? The same with PCD, could we gain any application, such as cell immortality?

ukitel2 karma

Not all cells grow fast. This is true both in patients and in the lab. Some cancers grow very rapidly, others do not. Some cells double their number in 24h, some others in more than a week. This has of course consequences when conducting experiments in the lab. When growing cells can't be too crowded, so you want to seed them again every once in a while. Fast growing cells need it every other day, slow growing cells once or twice a week.

Regarding immortality, it is not known whether cells can live forever. However, cells can very probably proliferate forever (as long as you take care of them). The oldest cell line known, the HeLa cell line, is now 60+ years old.

Nirulex2 karma

I had a pyrogenic granuloma removed from my finger a few years back. Am I allowed to facetiously declare myself a cancer survivor, or does that not count?

ukitel3 karma

It would be classified as a benign tumor. Benign tumors do not pose a threat to life most of the times, only malignant tumors do. Although there is no sharp line between benign and malignant, cancer is defined as a malignant tumor.

mz802 karma

Are you studying signal pathways in the cell ? Which proteins are involved in your research ? Kinases or p53 maybe?

ukitel1 karma

I am a cell biologist, I do not study proteins strictly, I am studies the machinery that governs cell division from the mechanical point of view. I study how mitosis looks like in actual cancer patients and then try to understand how cancer cells can deliver chromosomes in the wrong daughter cell, by replicating the same mechanism under the microscope.

Mentat-Paralda2 karma

What is your understanding and opinion of The Burzynski Clinic, do you find his work relevant? Also what is the current state of research in regards to human trials for genetically modifying our genome with hyaluronan compounds?

ukitel1 karma

My opinion of the Burzynski Clinic matches the one of Orac, author of Respectful Insolence blog. http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/?s=burzynski

OneDivineSpirit2 karma

Did you always want to be a cancer researcher?

ukitel2 karma

No, I wanted to be a medical doctor. But then I realized I was much more fascinated by biology rather than medicine. All my grandparents died of cancer, I guess that influenced me a lot. My work in a lab dealing with cancer diagnosis made me understand I could do something more for the patients.

thebloke12 karma

Hey, thanks for posting this AMA

Similar to how Edward Jenner used cowpox as a vaccine for smallpox, has an approach like this ever been tried in regards to cancer? eg breast cancer cell injected into liver cancer / throat cancer cell into lung etc

Sorry if this is a dumb question :( was always curious if this was tried and if it was why didn't it work.

Thank you for your time.

ukitel1 karma

Cowpox vaccine stimulated the immune system to respond to cowpox. However, smallpox virus looks very much alike cowpox virus, so the immune system recognizes them as more or less the same entity. Sensitizing the immune system to respond against cancer is among the most promising avenues in cancer therapy. Cancer vaccines and immunotherapy are growing fields which are right now being experimented on real cancer patients. I have met people working in those fields and I have seen reports about their results... The efficacy of these therapies are amazing, I would call them miracles if I didn't know the science behind it. However, the immune system is very complex and scientists are still trying to get deeper control on these new therapies.

McPornstache2 karma

My knowledge is limited here and I could use some clarification.

What are the different types of cancer? It was explained to me that there were something like 6-8 types? What are the worst ones and why?

ukitel5 karma

Your body is composed of several trillions of cells. Each cell has a specific job in your body: skin cells are an effective barrier, red blood cells transport oxygen, muscle cells are able to contract and so on. There are about 200 different cell types in your body and cancer can originate from any of those types. Cancer cells keep a trace of the cell type they originated from and this is why we have not 6-8 but hundred of types of cancer. There are many factors that make certain cancer better or worse than others. Pancreatic cancer and gastric cancer are among the worst ones. It depends on how "malignant" they are, which is just a way to say that they grow very fast, spread very easily but most of all resist to therapy.

dodgeman92 karma

Hi! Cancer is affecting more and more people each year. How well is cancer research funded? It seems I see a donation box for this or that to help cancer but are they getting enough and are they making progress? Thanks for doing this!

ukitel2 karma

it depends on the institutions but there is a lot of funds for cancer research. Progress are made every day: we won't beat cancer all of a sudden, but by gaining small victories, increasing likelihood of cure bit by bit.

kclineman2 karma

So how about that VICE special about killing cancer? They were talking about engineering viruses to attack cancer everywhere in the body. What do you say to those of us who believe real cures like this are being suppressed by the cancer treatment industry.

ukitel2 karma

At one institution in Germany there is a clinical trial where an engineered virus is used to kill brain cancer... If it is scientific, it can't be really stopped.

geraintm2 karma

Do you feel that medical research is fairly balanced between the amount spent on a particular illness and the benefits to human health? Do you believe cancer gets its fair share or not enough?

ukitel2 karma

I don't think medical research is balanced. Right the opposite, I think it is very unbalanced toward illnesses that affect the western world. Moreover, cancer is a disease of aging... It would be much more fair if we focused on diseases that are killing children or other parts of the world.

ukitel3 karma

Human cells have 46 chromosomes. Cancer cells very often change their chromosome number. This happens by unequally diving chromosomes during cell division. I discovered a new way cancer cells make this kind of mistake and found evidence for it in patient samples of several cancer types.

neverhaveinever2 karma

Does the intensity of the sun matter in the likelihood to cause skin cancer? For example, to achieve the same "color" if you were to spend 20 minutes outside at noon, or 2 hours outside at 4pm, would the first situation be worse because it was "all at once"? Assuming that aesthetically you achieved the same result.

I know the obvious answer is to not tan, and I know there are inherent risks to either scenario. I do not believe in the slightest that tanning is recommended, but in the rare instance where I unfortunately get body-shamed for being pale hard enough that I do let myself into the sun without sunscreen, I am just curious.

ukitel2 karma

I know that intensity matters and that it is best to avoid the strongest hours, but I don't know about recommendations. My guess is that probably 4 pm is still enough to give the cells the get-tanned signal, but with relatively lower damage. But it's just speculation

Mr-Platypus2 karma

If you were to give percentages to all cancer causing variables, what percentage would genetics receive?

ukitel2 karma

interesting question. I would say between 30 and 50% for the non-inherited cancer types.

ThisIsCharlotte2 karma

Can a low caloric diet reduce cancer risk?

ukitel3 karma

There is definitely evidence that caloric restriction can reduce cancer risk.

Smellyjobbies1 karma

Would fire be an effective means of curing cancer?

ukitel1 karma

Lasers are used as a treatment to get rid of cancer cells on the body surface, as in the case of some types of skin cancer. Laser therapy really works by burning cancer tissue.

meangrampa1 karma

How far away are we from finding the triggers of gliomas? Or even if there is an environmental or genetic trigger that starts most of them?

ukitel1 karma

I'm sorry, I don't know enough about glioma to answer this question. But I have some dear friends working on it, I'll ask them. This is what I can say: Although many different cancer exists and they are unique in their own kind, the causes of cancer are common across all types: in the end it all it is all about accumulating mutations. Each mutation can happen because of a different "cause" and it is quite impredictable which "triggers" will cause which mutation. But when the trigger cause a very specific kind of mutation, then it is possible to identify it: - the genome skin cancer cells has those types of mutations that we know are caused by UV light in experimental conditions in cell culture. - the genome of lung cancer cells has those types of mutations caused by molecules found in cigarette smoke.

Akachiba1 karma

I would like to see a real proof of you, like Little sign with your username on it in front of your desk. Your answers so far were really good but you know it´s reddit :/

My question is: How much likely is one to develope cancer if Close Family members got it? Let´s say my parents or grandparents.

ukitel1 karma

I provided more proof.

Having relatives with cancer increases your risk of getting cancer. Quantifying the risk depends on the specific cancer, for certain cancer types it is more relevant than for others, therefore I can't give you a number. Just one example: 1 in 5 people with colon cancer have another family member who developed colon cancer. This risk can be due to genetics, but also to environmental factors (same place where you live, same diet, same habits). There are some special cases where the genetic cause is known and the risk can be calculated with high accuracy (a very famous example is BRCA1 mutation).

Shinybug1 karma

How fast can cancer be? How long does it take from the point it can be diagnosed to the stage it can't be treated?

I have a lump in my breast and I have been avoiding my doctor becouse it's presumably large fibroadenom again and I don't want to have another scar... so I am wondering how stupid I am being.

Another question - birth control pills - google scholar tells me that the correlation between birth control pills and breast cancer is insignificant. Is it correct?

ukitel1 karma

Never delay meeting your doctor. The time frame between cure and beyond-cure cannot be known, therefore the earlier it is treated, the more likely it can be cured. Please, don't wait and talk to your doctor as soon as you can.

Birth control pills have greatly improved nowadays and the increase in risk for breast cancer is not significant anymore.

MaybeEinstein1 karma

My grandfather from my dads site died on pancreas cancer. i was told i am at high risk because this jumps over one generation. is this true? also, how high are the chances that we find a cure for cancer in the next 20 years?

ukitel2 karma

There is a condition where pancreatic cancer can be inherited in families. It is caused by a gene mutation that predisposes to pancreatitis. However, to my knowledge, it should be present at each generation. If it refers to that, then there are genetic test to find out if you inherited the gene or not. If you are worried, you can ask your doctor about it.

Unfortunately, right now we cannot do much with pancreatic cancer and we really don't know why. 20 years is a long time, I think by then it will be much more treatable.

NWfresh1 karma

In you opinion do CBD cannabinoids have a place in cancer treatments?

ukitel1 karma

THC has shown interesting potential in experimental conditions. But only a double-blind randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial can tell us the truth about cannabinoids.

bored_in_micro1 karma

yes, happen to know what the protein is that interacts with topoisomerase I when you catalytically inhibit it with SQDG??????? the one that triggers apoptosis via p53 via topo I, but that's not interacting with topo II???
it's driving me nuts. much obliged!

ukitel1 karma

Sorry, not my field of interest

Dr__Apocalypse1 karma

I have always read and heard about cancer "spreading" to other regions of the body. To my limited understanding, cancer is a mutation or anomaly in a cell. How on earth does it physically spread? I never fully understood what that means let alone how. Thanks in advance!

ukitel2 karma

The originary cancer cell divide continuously in copies of itself, forming a clone of several millions cells, all descendents of the originary one. Some of these can acquire migratory skills and physically move to a distant site, where they can continue dividing and start the same process again. I hope this clarifies it.

maskopi1 karma

I recently finished treatment of Hodgin's Lymphoma (stage 2, I think, in my lung glands) and I thought I'd ask, what are some ways to change your lifestyle afterwards to prevent the cancer from returning?

ukitel2 karma

Your oncologist can advice you the best depending on your specific situation :)

AstralAeonSoul0 karma

With how many times medicinal marijuana has cured cancer (or at least there are many many stories out there that claim it has cured it for them), why are not more doctors advocating the use of medicinal marijuana instead of chemotherapy?

And what is your personal opinion on medicinal marijuana/marijuana oil to cure cancer?

ukitel3 karma

I would be very cautious when interpreting this anecdotal evidence. In many cases, these stories do not stand up to careful scrutiny. However, scientists and doctors are interested in providing a cure, from which the majority of patients can benefit. You want to be sure that whatever is given to you, it has a very defined probability of saving you without harming you. Hence, the only way to demonstrate that a drug can save lives is through a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. I haven't read in detail stories about medicinal marijuana. However, I read many other stories of similar claims about other alternative therapies, I haven't found anything convincing. On the other hand, I could in many cases spot flaws or mistakes in their interpretation.