• Question: why is cancer so hard to cure?

    Asked by EvieParker to Hannah, Jenny, Steve on 17 Nov 2016.
    • Photo: Jenny Batson

      Jenny Batson answered on 17 Nov 2016:

      I think cancer is hard to cure because it is so complex. Cancer is many diseases, depending on what organ it arises in, e.g. breast cancer or lung cancer, what mutations the cancer has and what is driving the cancer plus many other things. Cancer is also tricky because it can still mutate and change depending on the pressures it faces in the body and due to treatments so we need to develop an armoury of cancer drugs and hit key targets to stop cancer resistance too.

    • Photo: Steven Street

      Steven Street answered on 18 Nov 2016:

      Hi EvieParker,

      Good question! As Jenny said, it’s a very complex set of diseases…. One thing that unites them is that they are caused by mutations to the healthy cells in your body…. this means that cancer cells are very similar to the rest of the healthy cells in your body. Trying to find a way of killing the cancer cells without also killing the healthy cells too is very hard.

      The other thing is that cancer cells divide very rapidly… some as quick as doubling in number every 24h! This means that even if you could kill 99.9% of the cancer cells, you would still leave some more that could grow back.