UA-118272889-1 1739406299646766 Combating The Perceptions Of What Is Cancer And Why Do People Get Cancer, With Guest Kat Arney - WE Have Cancer

Episode 161

Published on:

6th Oct 2020

Combating The Perceptions Of What Is Cancer And Why Do People Get Cancer, With Guest Kat Arney

Kat Arney joins the “WE Have Cancer” podcast to talk about her new book “Rebel Cell.” As a self-identified developmental geneticist, Kat discusses what is cancer, why do people get cancer, and how it differs from the perception most have of the disease.

From viewing cancer as a one-off personal event to how a more evolutionary outlook on treatment might just be the answer to curing cancer, Kat Arney uses her Ph.D. and experience to flip your idea of the disease on its head.

Guest biography:

Kat Arney is the host of the “Genetics Unzipped" podcast and author of such books as, “Rebel Cell: Cancer, Evolution, and the New Science of Life’s Oldest Betrayal.

Kat earned a Ph.D. in developmental genetics from Cambridge University. She’s a co-founding member of the Cancer Research UK's award-winning science blog and was a principal media spokesperson from 2004-2016.


Table of contents:

  • Introduction of guest Kat ArneyKat shares her story, learning about genetics and cancer research during her Ph.D. study at Cambridge.
  • Why do people get cancer?Kat breaks down what is cancer and why people get it in a more easily understood way, comparing the body to a well-functioning society. She views cancer as a bunch of cheating cells similarly to someone in a society breaking the law.
  • The perception of cancer as a uniquely human and modern diseaseKat discusses how cancer is in nearly all life forms, including the very smallest and largest animals. She also talks about how cancer was found in a 77-million-year-old dinosaur, altering the opinion that it’s a new issue only humans face.
  • Cancer as an internal force and not an external oneKat and Lee talk about the perceptions of cancer as being a part of an unhealthy lifestyle compared to just being mutated cells beyond our control at times.
  • How childhood cancer differs from adult cancerKat explains the tie of particular tissues and times of life to childhood cancer and how adult cancers deviate from that as almost a different biological process.
  • Treatment whack-a-mole and the evolution of cancerLee shares a story about an upcoming guest and her recurrent cancer. They talk about the belief that treatment is a way of buying time until another treatment can come out.
  • Treatments based on the evolution of cancerWhere current cancer treatments attack that form at that particular time, Kat shares a story about work being done at the Moffitt Cancer Center that looks at the evolutionary principles of cancer as a means of selecting treatment.
  • Viewing cancer as an evolutionary eventDue to an individual’s genetics, their body, and their lifestyle, every instance of cancer is a one-off event, according to Kat. While cancer is often viewed as a universal, it’s truly a personal disease.
  • Bucking the idea of “the cure” for cancerThough there’s been a lot of talk about a lone cure for all cancers, Kat talks about how we should revise that notion. As a personal disease that has so many forms, treatment won’t look the same for each person and each type of cancer. There are some studies currently embracing that idea and finding some success with treatments already on the market.

Links mentioned in the show:

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Kat Arney’s book, “Rebel Cell” comes out on August 6th in the U.K. and October 13th in the U.S.

Follow Kat Arney on Twitter and Instagram, as well as the Genetics Unzipped podcast on Twitter

Know someone touched by cancer who has an inspiring story? Email Lee

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About the Podcast

WE Have Cancer
Providing information, inspiration and hope to those touched by cancer.
Each year more than 12 million people will hear the devastating words "you have cancer."

In each episode of WE Have Cancer we share the stories of patients, survivors, caregivers and medical professionals as a way to provide information, inspiration and hope to those touched by cancer.

The host, Lee Silverstein, is a survivor of a rare form of pediatric kidney cancer and has been battling stage 4 colon cancer since 2011.

About your host

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Lee & Linda Silverstein

In 2011, just four months after they began dating, Lee was diagnosed with Stage 2 colon cancer. A year and a half later, 17 days after their honeymoon, they learned that Lee’s cancer had spread to his liver; he was now Stage 4. Through numerous surgeries, chemotherapy infusions and assorted other treatments, Linda has been by his side. Despite cancer, Lee and Linda say unequivocally these have been the best years of their lives.

In 2015 Lee launched this podcast as a way to provide information, inspiration and hope to those affected by cancer.

Lee and Linda live in Florida with their Westie Terrier, Fergie.

The WE Have Cancer podcast is supported by The Colon Cancer Coalition -