There are many treatment options available for Cancer sufferers. These can be categorised as:
These are summarised briefly below:
These are standard treatments offered to patients through Conventional Western medicine, and include:
- Hormonal therapy
- Targeted therapy
These treatments are most effective if a Cancer is caught early (Stage I or Stage II), when it can be cut out, irradiated (radiotherapy) or poisoned (chemotherapy) to shrink the tumour. Unfortunately, they are often not as effective in advanced or late stage Cancer (Stage III or IV).
For the majority of cancers, not much progress has been made to improving survival rates in the last 50 years. Indeed a review in 2012 of all the published cancer research, found that apart from a small number of cancers (childhood leukaemias, some lymphomas, testicular and some uterine cancers), having chemotherapy only made a 2.5% difference to 5-year survival. That is after all the lost hair, sickness, mouth ulcers, numb hands and feet and overwhelming fatigue that many cancer patients have to suffer as part and parcel of the treatment.
The toxic side-effects of chemotherapy, occur because of the non-specific nature of the drugs’ destruction: normal fast-replicating cells such as hair, gut and bone marrow, are also damaged in addition to Cancer cells. This is particularly so because most protocols use the highest dose possible a human can tolerate (or “maximum tolerated dose”), with unfortunate consequences on the normal cells and an immune system vital in preventing the cancer cells from spreading.
Targeted therapies (or monoclonal antibodies) are specially manufactured immune cells designed to attack the Cancer at specific points on the cell. They offer the promise of stopping Cancer with fewer side-effects, but they can often be expensive, and their initial success, often short-lived.
The reason for this, may be that whereas Targeted therapy may block a receptor for tumour growth (such as VEFR or EGF) or a messenger for new vessel formation (angiogenesis), the tumour has multiple pathways to grow and spread. If one mechanism is blocked, it just finds another way around it.
Whereas the disadvantages of conventional chemotherapy may be clear to many, the advantages are that they are usually based on large clinical trials (known as “Randomised control trials” where one half of the subject group are given a drug, and another is given placebo), and that this offers a certain degree of certainty, which may be important to some patients, even if the difference may not be great and seldom leads to a “cure”.
This loss of quality of life and minimal difference to survival for most advanced cancers, leads many patients and their loved ones to search for alternative options.
Complementary Alternative Approach
Up to 80% of patients will seek out nutritional, supplement or alternative treatments to their standard options. These are numerous, but can be broadly categorised in to:
Common diets used to support cancer, include the Budwig diet, Gerson diet, Raw food diet, Kelly diet, Ketogenic diet and Real food diet. They all tend to focus on eating real, non-processed foods, that are nutrient dense and low in refined carbohydrates.
The main aim of these diets is to support the body in fighting cancer while depriving the cancer cells of their main energy source, sugar. Most cancer thrive on sugar (which is how PET scan's work by attaching a radioactive tracer on to sugar molecules), so it makes sense to avoid it like the plague. Literally, a cancer patient's life depends on it!
Hundreds of supplements have been shown to have anti-cancer benefits such as Selenium, Vitamin E, Melatonin and Medicinal Mushrooms. They have differing mechanisms of action: some support the immune system, some inhibit growth signals, others induce cell death (apoptosis) and others still block the cancer's ability to grow new blood vessels (angiogenesis).
Many herbal extracts have been shown to attack cancer cells and relieve chemotherapy symptoms. They are widely utilised by Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Ayuvedic and Naturopathic practitioners for many centuries.
Ginger, for example, helps with sickness (nausea); Curcumin is powerful anti-inflammatory and Berberine has been shown to induce cancer death and inhibit the spread of a variety of tumour cells.
Herbs can be administered in drops, tincture, powders, capsules, soups and even intravenously through a drip.
Many alternative cancer programs will involve some element of detoxification support. Detoxification is the natural process through which we continually remove harmful substances, such as pollutants, pesticides, additives, heavy metals, drugs and alcohol from the body. The body does this through the liver, kidney, colon, skin and lungs.
As cancer treatments produce large amounts of cancer breakdown products (not to mention, those from damaged normal cells), treatments such as far infrared sauna, coffee enemas, colonics, and lymphatic massage are often employed to support and maximise the detox pathways.
- Manual Therapies
Hands on therapies such as Physiotherapy, Osteopathy, Chiropractic and Massage Therapy can help reduce the pain, stiffness, scaring and swelling that can follow chemotherapy, radiation therapy or surgery. These treatments often aim at manipulating soft tissues, joints and the spine to reduce pain and swelling and restore lost function.
- Mind Body Health
Persistently carrying negative emotions like anger, resentment and guilt can have a detrimental effect on the body and the immune system. Prayer, meditation, counselling and positive visualization have been found to reduce stress in patients and have a positive effect on their quality of life. These treatments are under on-going research but current studies indicate that these treatments can be make a big difference to Cancer patients.
Some patients derive great benefit from the healing therapies such as Reiki, Faith healing, Touch for Health and other forms of spiritual healing. Healers claim that they can help channel the universal energy through them to the patient, and that this can have a therapeutic effect in reducing stress, anxiety, and depression. As these negative emotions are released the stress hormones in the body are lowered which helps the immune system.
Ozone Sauna, Ozone rectal insufflation, Ozone water, Ozone IV Infusion are all ways to get ozone into the body. Cancer studies show that cancer is an anaerobic (without oxygen) disease and if we can raise the oxygen levels in the body then the cancer cells can die off. Most ozone treatments do not require medical staff accept for the blood and rectal infused ozone.
Find out more about our Ozone therapy >
The integrative approach attempts to combine the healing and supportive benefits of Complementary Alternative Medicine with the destructive power of Conventional treatments.
The advantages of this approach, is that many complementary treatments can help reduce toxicity of conventional chemotherapy and radiotherapy to normal cells. There is some medical research studies demonstrating an improvement in the chemotherapy effect following a combination with vitamin C or other supplements.
In some cases, they can also augment the effect of conventional treatment. A study at Duke University found that a combination of hyperthermia and chemotherapy improves the oxygenation of the breast tumors. Thus, tumor hypoxia can be prevented which would otherwise lead to the tumor’s resistance to radiation.
Almost always, they help maintain quality of life, having a plan and being in control of your treatment choices lowers stress and empowers you rather than making you feel a victim. There are many ongoing studies of the effect of Integrative cancer and quality of life.
Unfortunately, not many doctors or health practitioners are familiar with working together, leading to fear and distrust among professionals who should be connected by a common aim: the well-being and survival of their patient.