Another excellent article in the New Yorker is about complexity management in cancer research.
Cancer is studied as if it was a pathogen. "Cancer attacks you, cancerous cells invade you blood". It argues that oncology’s obsession with the cellular automaton and its genes exists only because it is easier to focus on the cell, than taking in account the terrain, the tissues in the host..
It’s the host tissue and cancer cells complex assemblage of interactions. that determines the nature of the illness. There isn’t one factor but a series of factors that determined how and why the cancer took hold.
It recalls the story of Thyroid cancer detection in South Korea 15 years ago. Many people were found having this kind of cancer, because of a new ultrasound device. By 2014, thyroid-cancer incidence was fifteen times what it was in 1993, making it the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the country. Yet the rate at which people died from thyroid cancer remained unchanged .
This early detection is worse than useless as many people received surgery that was unnecessary.
The article alludes to the fact that what we need is an early predictor of the patient's health, not of an early detection of diseases.