Tumors that recur after radiation of breast cancer cells only come from one place, surviving breast cancer cells. These cells have a name, iBCSC or induced breast cancer stem cells. They are resistant to radiation and do not respond very well to chemotherapy.

That’s bad, but it gets worse.

There is strong evidence that when bombarded with radiation for the first time, about half of the breast cancer cells are killed. Sounds good, huh? The other half are transformed into breast cancer stem cells that resist further treatment. They survive and multiply, potentially causing other tumors.

Not so good.

The initial treatment creates cells that cause cancer, and they aren’t treatable. Dr. Frank Pajonk, an associate professor of radiation oncology at Jonsson Cancer Center (UCLA) suggests there MIGHT be a silver lining in this black cloud. He acknowledges that the evidence shows that the current treatments make things far worse, but he writes, “If scientists can uncover the mechanisms and prevent this transformation from occurring, radiation treatment for breast cancer could become even more effective…”.

Somehow I’m missing the good news part because it seems lost in all the passive language (might, may, could, etc.).

The evidence clearly points to a FACT – that radiation treatment converts cancer cells into treatment-resistant cancer cells. Shouldn’t that be enough for them to stop treating breast cancer with radiation?

You’d think so, but no.

Dr. Pajonk suggests that research should continue so they might find why this happens and POSSIBLY find a way of “

[c]ontrolling the radiation resistance of breast cancer stem cells and the generation of new iBCSC during radiation treatment [that] may ultimately improve curability and may allow for de-escalation of the total radiation doses currently given to breast cancer patients, thereby reducing acute and long-term adverse effects,”.

If I was king I’d issue an edict banning all radiation treatments.

I would also mandate that the overall system devise jobs for all former radiation technicians that will be productive instead of destructive.

Is that too harsh?