top of page

Why Cancer Will Probably Always Be Around

Written by Arianna Mason

The recorded history of cancer started about 5,000 years ago when the Egyptians were describing cases of breast cancer in papyri. The ancient Greeks even came up with the word “cancer.” However, the disease existed long before humans started to write about it. In fact, it  has been around since the days of the first multicellular organisms. As quickly as there were organisms with more than one cell, there was a vulnerability to cancer. These early beginnings mean that cancer is probably just a consequence of living life as a complex being. They also indicate that cancer will be pretty hard to get rid of.

The Basics

The basics of how cancer works are pretty simple: more than one cell exists in an organism, one of those cells acquires a particularly dangerous set of mutations, and those mutations cause it to grow and divide uncontrollably. Though, the most important thing to know is that in growing and dividing uncontrollably, the cell begins to be “selfish” and not do what is best for the organism as a whole. Instead, it does what is best for itself. All cells exist in an environment just like humans do. In both cellular and human environments, there are individuals who only do what is best for themselves and while doing so begin to take resources away from other individuals in their environment. The major difference between the two is that, when a person is selfish, it just causes people to dislike them but, when a cell is selfish, that causes cancer. 

There is a long, long list of causes that lead cells to behave in the way that they do when someone has cancer. Even the processing of oxygen in the body creates products that can cause mutations. There are also more avoidable causes which include alcoholic beverages, tobacco, and asbestos. Luckily, the human body has mechanisms to repair these mutations and even get rid of cells when they are far beyond fixing. Cells themselves have processes that allow them to essentially reverse mutations and, if those processes fail, then the immune system can target and destroy a cell. These mechanisms do a great job at preventing cancer the majority of the time. However, sometimes they fail. This can be just by pure chance, because the immune system is weak, or for another reason. It could even be due to multiple reasons. Either way, failure can cause illness to set in.

The fact that there are so many different cancer-causing substances and the fact that the human body is inherently fallible are also indicators of the inevitability of cancer cases. There were 10 million deaths from cancer in the year 2020. These deaths were often caused by cases of lung, colon, rectum, liver, stomach, and breast cancer. The disease was the leading cause of death worldwide and it can be assumed that at least some cases were not due to exposure to substances that can easily be avoided.


Even though cancer seems to be an inevitable reality for at least some people, that doesn't mean that effective treatments don’t exist for them. Until right after the Victorian-era, surgery was just about the only option to treat people with cancer and that treatment was often deadly. People were so scared of the surgery that they often stayed away from the treatment all together. Times are different now. Operations to remove masses are much safer and people have much more trust in the procedures. There are even other options like chemotherapy, radiation, immunotherapy, hormone therapy, and bone marrow transplants. However, it can be difficult to go into remission after being diagnosed with cancer. This is primarily because the nature of an individual’s cancer can change as cells continue to go unchecked in the body. Cells can continue to acquire new mutations and make previously effective treatments virtually useless.Though this can be a harsh reality of fighting cancer, there are many highly skilled and knowledgeable physicians that work to counteract the natural changes that the disease can go through. It can be a long and hard battle but people generally have much better odds than they would have once upon a time.

The Future 

As the years go by, cancer treatments continue to improve and evolve. One promising method that is currently being researched is the use of immunotherapy. Put simply, immunotherapy is the use of a patient’s own immune system to fight their cancer. There are many different categories of immunotherapy but a category that many people have probably heard of is that of vaccinations. Cancer vaccines may be used either before or after someone has developed cancer. An important example of a vaccine used before a cancer diagnosis is the HPV vaccine. This vaccine prevents certain types of cancers such as those originating in the cervix. Vaccines used after cancer diagnoses are used to get the body to more efficiently destroy damaged or abnormal cells within it. They already exist for prostate cancer, bladder cancer, and melanoma.


Along with receiving scheduled, preventative vaccines, people today can use several other main tactics for prevention. These include completing cancer screenings, not using tobacco, maintaining a healthy weight, eating a healthy diet, and wearing sunscreen. At the end of the day, though there are some ways to lower risk, there will always be a chance of developing the disease. So, the best everyone can do is live healthy lives and have trust in those whose job it is to help them should the worst happen.


Arianna Mason is a senior medical diagnostics student with a passion for science writing. In 2023, she started the science website in order to pursue her dream of writing about genetics and other biology concepts. She loves writing for other science websites so, if you would like her to write for you, please contact her via email. 

Instagram & Tiktok: @hiddengeneofficial


bottom of page