Immunology = Done.

Today I finished my Immunology class that started in September 2010. What a great class; I'm a little sad it is over. I learned so much about vaccination, breast feeding, getting sick, asthma, AIDS, cancer treatments, and autoimmunity (to name name a few). This semester has been particularly interesting; since January we've covered the following topics: Allergies, Immunological Memory, Immunodeficiency Diseases, the "Hygiene Hypothesis", Vaccines, Cancer, and Autoimmune Diseases.

Cool topics, huh?

The last lecture of the course was devoted to cancer. Here are some notes:

- Cancer is essentially a failure of immunity.
- Cancer cells do not produce inflammation in the body, and without inflammation, the immune system can not respond effectively. Without inflammation, an adaptive immune response can not be activated.
- In some types of cancer, a bacterial infection is injected into the cancer-affected organ. The idea behind this treatment is that when the immune system notices the infection, it will notice the cancer and attack/destroy it too.
- If a tumor grows to one centimeter in size, the tumor can no longer self-sustain itself, thus it moves (i.e. metastasizes) somewhere new in the body.
- Cancer is more commonly seen in older people because it takes a long time for cancer cells to accumulate to the point of causing pain or illness, or to the point of being noticeable.
- Some cancers are caused by viruses (e.g. the hepatitis virus can cause liver cancer).


  1. In recent years people have remarked on the observed ineffectiveness of antibiotics associated with their overuse. Makes one wonder if the increase in cancers is associated with the same cause. (re: using bacterial infection to treat some types of cancer.)

  2. What is the smallest size of tumor we can reliably detect? (and what would be the detection technique? X-rays?)

    What is the maximum growth rate of a tumor?

    If we have the answers to both of these questions, and I think we do, we should be able to come up with a check-up schedule that would catch all tumors before metastasis.

    Besides maybe the cost of scans, why are we not doing this yet?!

  3. If you feel a tumor, it has likely already metastasizes.

    Max growth rate of tumor depends on tumor type.

    Yes, it would be good for everyone to be tested regularly for cancer!


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