Cancer is not some predestined gene-bomb setting itself off within us, rather, a logical result of decades worth of cell shock/damage/adaptation to environmental poisoning, nutrient deprivation and psycho-spiritual stress. These cells have learned to survive the constant abuse, and flip into survival mode which is self-centered, hyper-proliferative (constant self-repair/replication) and aggressive (metastatic).
In a remarkable new essay by Mark Vincent this view has found its vindication. Entitled: "Cancer: A de-repression of a default survival program common to all cells?: A life-history perspective on the nature of cancer," cancer is viewed in an entirely new light:
"Cancer viewed as a programmed, evolutionarily conserved life-form, rather than just a random series of disease-causing mutations, answers the rarely asked question of what the cancer cell is for, provides meaning for its otherwise mysterious suite of attributes, and encourages a different type of thinking about treatment."
"The broad but consistent spectrum of traits, well-recognized in all aggressive cancers, group naturally into three categories: taxonomy ("phylogenation"), atavism ("re-primitivization") and robustness ("adaptive resilience"). The parsimonious explanation is not convergent evolution, but the release of an highly conserved survival program, honed by the exigencies of the Pre-Cambrian, to which the cancer cell seems better adapted; and which is recreated within, and at great cost to, its host."
What Mark Vincent explains here is cancer as a regression (atavism/re-primitivization) of the human normal cell type, to a more ancient and robust cell type possessed by an ancestral cell lineage in pre-Cambrian times, well over 542 million years ago. If this is true, given the right (or wrong) conditions, normal cells may regress to a more primitive, far more individualistic cell phenotype in an attempt to survive (if not thrive) within the biochemical/bioenergetic adversities characteristic of the sickened, cancer-prone body.
The concept of regression to more ancient forms of incarnation within biology is not novel. The well-known principle of "ontogeny" recapitulates "phylogeny" in embryogenesis, also known as the "recapitulation theory," for instance, proposes that the fetus' development follows exactly the same sequence as the sequence of its evolutionary ancestors.
There is, in other words, inscribed within our genetic code a history of all past cellular/organismal incarnations, which while normally dormant, can be re-awakened when necessary to provide survival advantages. Who after all can say that cancer cells or tumors far from representing pure chaos (mutational view of cancer causation) are not symptoms of an attempt to heal, or regain balance within less-than-ideal conditions, when no other viable options remain?
What may be most important about this new view on cancer are its existential implications. After all, if cancer is not just something that by luck of the draw, does not happen to this person, while happening to that person, but actually has meaning, then perhaps we can begin to de-program ourselves from the rampant fatalism that undergirds the popular sentiment that cancer is to be both loathed and feared, but never quite understood.