Naturopathic Approach to Cancer

naturopathic-approach-to-cancer

Integrative Cancer support offers Naturopathic care for those diagnosed with cancer. It may also incorporate preventative treatments to help offset cancer reoccurrence.

When working with a patient diagnosed with cancer, Naturopathic Doctors use research based proven therapies to enhance quality of life, improve treatment (chemotherapy, radiation, surgery); improve outcome; treatment effectiveness and enhance survival.

Every patient is unique, just as each cancer diagnosis is different, therefore therapies are tailored to the specific patient and their disease. Treatment plans and therapeutic methods will often change during the course of treatment since cancer itself is always changing. A key feature of Naturopathic Integrative Oncology is that there is no “One Size fits All”. Each patient cancer diagnosis is unique, consequently their medicine must also be exclusive to their needs.

What are the principles behind the Naturopathic approach to cancer treatment?

Cancer is not a single disease. It is a group of more than 200 diseases characterized by uncontrolled growth, proliferation, and spread of abnormal cells. Diagnosis and treatment strategies will vary depending on the:
a. Type of cancer cells
b. Extent of total tumor burden
c. Health performance status of the patient and
d. Previously administrated treatments

Naturopathic Medicine can play important roles in each phase of cancer care. These include:

  • Primary prevention and risk reduction
  • Screening and early diagnosis
  • Integrative co-treatment during conventional active cancer therapy
  • Improvement in tumoricydal activity of conventional therapies to maximize benefits
  • Reduction of the side effects of conventional therapies during active treatments
  • Post treatment recovery support
  • Support for long term secondary prevention after complete treatment
  • Change the environment that allowed the growth of the tumor – remove tumor promoting factors such as hyper insulinemia, nutrient deficiencies, exogenous hormones, smoking, etc.
  • Support the patient metabolically while starving the tumor
  • Promote normal cell differentiation and apoptosis
  • Reduce metastasis and angiogenesis
  • Enhance cell to cell communication and intracellular singling
  • Implement natural anti tumor and pro apoptotic agents
  • Block hormone stimulation of tumors through normalizing hepatic clearance of hormones
  • Support a healthy immune response
  • Encourage primary prevention and aggressive screening for family members of affected patients
  • Deal with death and dying for those who eventually succumb to the disease.

Naturopathic Integrative Oncology care provides comprehensive support for each stage of a cancer patient’s experience (from diagnosis to treatment decisions and restoration of immune function, and health restoration after completion of standard treatments). Naturopathic doctors communicate with the patient’s medical and radiation oncologists to ensure truly integrated care. The goal is to improve not just the quality of life of people living with cancer, but also to reduce the risk of cancer recurrence.

Treatment options include:

  • Mind/body medicine –These techniques can help induce relaxation, reduce stress and anxiety, and relieve pain or other symptoms caused by cancer or cancer treatment.
  • Acupuncture – Can reduce the impact of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, cancer pain, and provide symptom relief (including depression, anxiety, hot flashes, leucopenia, fatigue, neuropathy, and insomnia)
  • Botanical medicine – can promote the destruction of cancer cells via stimulation of apoptosis, boost immune function, prevent angiogenesis, and block/detoxify hormones
  • Intravenous nutritional therapy – may include the anti-cancer effect of high doses of vitamin C, immune support, and the anti-cancer effect of helixor
  • Diet/supplements support – cancer needs high glucose to grow, so a low glycemic raw diet and/or ketogenic diet can be recommended, plus consuming plenty of antioxidants and phychemicals that help prevent and treat cancer
  • Supplements – help prevent hormonal related cancers such as DIM (Diindolylmethane). Population studies show a high intake of dietary or supplemental calcium seems to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer etc

Is there documentation of the effect Naturopathic treatments can have on the remission of cancer?

There are many case studies and small research trials that have documented. See Appendix ‘A’ for references.

Today there are also many larger trials studying the efficacy of natural treatments. For example, the Bastyr Integrative Oncology Outcomes Study: Evaluating Outcomes in Patients Receiving Integrative Oncology Care. Since 2009, nearly 650 oncology patients in all stages and types of cancer have participated in Bastyr integrative oncology studies. Although research is ongoing, preliminary results suggest that integrative cancer care may extend the lives of patients with advanced cancers.

To what extent does Naturopathic treatment have to be individualized for the patient concerned?

Naturopathic oncology treatments provide whole-person, patient-centered and integrative care. Each treatment is unique in terms of components of care and organizational structure.

The goals depend on the wishes of the patient, the stage of the disease, the type of cancer, and the type of treatment the patient is receiving. Some patients only want help controlling the symptoms of treatments, while others may seek a comprehensive management approach. For example, early stage patients are most likely to benefit from drastic changes in diets and life style, aggressive supplemental and botanical support, and intravenous vitamin therapy.

Late stage patients may need support stimulating appetite, preventing excessive weight loss, and promoting pain relief.

Currently, how widely is Naturopathic being used to treat cancer?

Since the 1940s, medical science has developed chemotherapy, radiation therapy, adjuvant therapy, and the newer targeted therapies, as well as refined surgical techniques for removing cancer. Before the development of these modern, evidence-based treatments, 90% of cancer patients died within five years. With modern mainstream treatments only 34% of cancer patients die within five years. However, while mainstream forms of cancer treatment generally prolong life or permanently cure cancer, most treatments also have side effects ranging from unpleasant to fatal (pain, blood clots, fatigue, and infection). These side effects and the lack of a guarantee that treatment will be successful make alternative treatments for cancer, which purport to cause fewer side effects or to increase survival rates, very appealing. Studies show that approximately 80 per cent of Canadians wish to pursue complementary therapies to augment and ameliorate conventional cancer therapies.

One large survey of cancer survivors reported on the use of complementary therapies. The therapies used most often were prayer and spiritual practice (61%), relaxation (44%), faith and spiritual healing (42%), and nutritional supplements and vitamins (40%). Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies are used by 31-84% of children with cancer, both in and outside of clinical trials. CAM therapies have been used to treat and in the management of side effects caused by cancer or cancer treatment. (American National Cancer Institute www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/cam/topics-in-cam/patient/ Jun 13, 2014)

It is critically important that people everywhere become more aware that doctors of Naturopathic and integrative oncology offer effective and accessible cancer treatment options, in Canada and around the world. No matter what type of cancer a person has, or what stage they are experiencing, these options may enable them to enjoy a better quality of life and to live for years beyond their initial prognoses.

Bibliography:
APPENDIX ‘A’

  1. Padayatty SJ, Riordan HD, Hewitt SM, et al.: Intravenously administered vitamin C as cancer therapy: three cases. CMAJ 174 (7): 937-42, 2006. [PUBMED Abstract]
  2. Vollbracht C, Schneider B, Leendert V, et al.: Intravenous vitamin C administration improves quality of life in breast cancer patients during chemo-/radiotherapy and aftercare: results of a retrospective, multicentre, epidemiological cohort study in Germany. In Vivo 25 (6): 983-90, 2011 Nov-Dec. [PUBMED Abstract]
  3. Yeom CH, Jung GC, Song KJ: Changes of terminal cancer patients’ health-related quality of life after high dose vitamin C administration. J Korean Med Sci 22 (1): 7-11, 2007. [PUBMED Abstract]
  4. Padayatty SJ, Sun H, Wang Y, et al.: Vitamin C pharmacokinetics: implications for oral and intravenous use. Ann Intern Med 140 (7): 533-7, 2004. [PUBMED Abstract]
  5. Hoffer LJ, Levine M, Assouline S, et al.: Phase I clinical trial of i.v. ascorbic acid in advanced malignancy. Ann Oncol 19 (11): 1969-74, 2008. [PUBMED Abstract]
  6. Monti DA, Mitchell E, Bazzan AJ, et al.: Phase I evaluation of intravenous ascorbic acid in combination with gemcitabine and erlotinib in patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer. PLoS One 7 (1): e29794, 2012. [PUBMED Abstract]
  7. Welsh JL, Wagner BA, van’t Erve TJ, et al.: Pharmacological ascorbate with gemcitabine for the control of metastatic and node-positive pancreatic cancer (PACMAN): results from a phase I clinical trial. Cancer Chemother Pharmacol 71 (3): 765-75, 2013. [PUBMED Abstract]
  8. Ma Y, Chapman J, Levine M, et al.: High-dose parenteral ascorbate enhanced chemosensitivity of ovarian cancer and reduced toxicity of chemotherapy. Sci Transl Med 6 (222): 222ra18, 2014. [PUBMED Abstract]
  9. Abou-Jawde RM, Reed J, Kelly M, et al.: Efficacy and safety results with the combination therapy of arsenic trioxide, dexamethasone, and ascorbic acid in multiple myeloma patients: a phase 2 trial. Med Oncol 23 (2): 263-72, 2006. [PUBMED Abstract]
  10. Berenson JR, Matous J, Swift RA, et al.: A phase I/II study of arsenic trioxide/bortezomib/ascorbic acid combination therapy for the treatment of relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma. Clin Cancer Res 13 (6): 1762-8, 2007. [PUBMED Abstract]
  11. Qazilbash MH, Saliba RM, Nieto Y, et al.: Arsenic trioxide with ascorbic acid and high-dose melphalan: results of a phase II randomized trial. Biol Blood Marrow Transplant 14 (12): 1401-7, 2008. [PUBMED Abstract]
  12. Berenson JR, Boccia R, Siegel D, et al.: Efficacy and safety of melphalan, arsenic trioxide and ascorbic acid combination therapy in patients with relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma: a prospective, multicentre, phase II, single-arm study. Br J Haematol 135 (2): 174-83, 2006. [PUBMED Abstract]
  13. Welch JS, Klco JM, Gao F, et al.: Combination decitabine, arsenic trioxide, and ascorbic acid for the treatment of myelodysplastic syndrome and acute myeloid leukemia: a phase I study. Am J Hematol 86 (9): 796-800, 2011. [PUBMED Abstract]
  14. Subbarayan PR, Lima M, Ardalan B: Arsenic trioxide/ascorbic acid therapy in patients with refractory metastatic colorectal carcinoma: a clinical experience. Acta Oncol 46 (4): 557-61, 2007. [PUBMED Abstract]
  15. Bael TE, Peterson BL, Gollob JA: Phase II trial of arsenic trioxide and ascorbic acid with temozolomide in patients with metastatic melanoma with or without central nervous system metastases. Melanoma Res 18 (2): 147-51, 2008. [PUBMED Abstract]
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