The standard care for cancer patients is to kill tumors by blasting them with chemotherapy. Radiologist Roger Gatenby proposes a different approach in Nature: Forget about curing cancer and eliminating the tumors. Just keep them at a manageable size through drugs instead of chemo. "It just makes common sense," he tells Scientific American.
Think about cancer not as an infection in a body but as an "invasive species." Ecologists have learned it's impossible to destroy all the pests, but they can keep them to a "tolerable level," says Gatenby. Aggressive chemo, on the other hand, kills only the weakest cells, leaving the stronger cells with the room and resources to multiply faster.