Researchers think they’ve found a contender for the cause of colon cancer – a strain of a common bacteria (Bacteroides fragilis or ETBF) that causes immune cells to allow inflammation of the tissue in the colon, which then leads to cancerous growths. The ETBF microbe can apparently be found in 20 to 35% of the general population  and in 40% of people with colon cancer.

Um, only 5% difference between the baseline population and the affected group? What about the other 60% of colon cancer patients? At best you’d need to come up with some additional factor ( a gene trigger for example) to explain why this bacterium turns so nasty. On the other hand, a cure doesn’t always depend on understanding cause, just on positive results. If you can halt cancer with a course of antibiotics, who necessarily cares what caused it? Even better if you come up with a gene-cased biomarker to detect it before it takes hold.

In any event, as with sexual intercourse for Philip Larkin, this comes too late for me. This Wednesday I check in to the hospital for the prep work, then Thursday they cut away my little cancers. The ugliness inside. I’ve been working all day today, and I was supposed to have some work Tuesday but it got cancelled. So I will have a day to assemble my stuff and go through the lists of things to do one last time. Then, Thursday, I’m under ether.

PJ Harvey – When Under Ether

Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened
Into the rose-garden. My words echo
Thus, in your mind.
But to what purpose
Disturbing the dust on a bowl of rose-leaves
I do not know.

T.S. Eliot “Burnt Norton”

Janek Schaefer – His Masters Voices