Debate On The Effectiveness Of Chemotherapy
The shock of being diagnosed with cancer is something none of us wish to think about. Over 1 million Americans will be diagnosed this year with this deadly disease and over one half million will die from it. It is the second leading cause of death and has devastating impacts on human life and society at large. The prescribed course of treatment that oncologists administer is chemotherapy. Just how effective chemotherapy is has been debatable. Numerous studies have been conducted assessing its actual effectiveness in treating cancer and destroying cancer cells.
When a person is diagnosed with cancer, his or her oncologist will prescribe chemotherapy treatments. Chemotherapy can be administered in various ways. The objective of chemotherapy is to control the spread of the cancer cells and to destroy any existing tumors. It is often used in conjunction with surgery or radiation if the oncologist feels that is necessary. Most oncologist offices have chemotherapy treatment rooms where patients are given their treatments. It is usually dosed through an intravenous method but can be given in a pill form as well.
There is a set schedule of treatments a patient will receive. It depends entirely on the cancer, the diagnosis and the health of the patient. Chemotherapy can be given daily, weekly or monthly depending on individual circumstances. There are several cancers that have been shown to respond better to chemotherapy than others. Two such cancers include Hodgkin’s Lymphomas and Lymphocytic Leukemia which is a childhood cancer. And to a lesser extent there are other cancers that also respond to chemotherapy treatments. Tumors can be diminished or completely dissolved. In the case of bulky tumors this can make a patient more comfortable and experience less pain. The more advanced staged cancers are often more difficult to treat. There is no guaranteed cure using chemotherapy although many people have increased their life spans and lived cancer free depending on their own unique circumstances. Oncologists do create personalized treatments to maximize the effectiveness of chemotherapy for their patients.
There are two separate issues to assess. Does chemotherapy cure cancer? The answer is no. The second issue is whether chemotherapy prolongs life for a cancer patient. The answer to that depends on many factors including diagnosis, age and stage of the cancer.
The Statistics: A now well known study was conducted in 2004 which assessed the actual effectiveness of chemotherapy on all types of cancer. This study was published in the Australian Journal, “Clinical Oncology”. Some important details include the fact that all of the researchers involved were oncologists themselves who were very familiar with chemotherapy. They reviewed the results of clinical trials that took place over 14 years, from 1990 through 2004. The researchers looked at a five year survival chart post chemotherapy treatment. The average result was a 2.1% increase in the chance of being alive in five years time. The total number of patients studied was 227,874. Of that group, 4,996 actually survived five additional years after receiving treatment. The highest five year survival rates were for people diagnosed with lymphomas and testicular cancers.
Although the study remains controversial it is certainly worth taking a critical look at. Perhaps studies such as these can help the medical establishment find newer and more innovative ways to improve outcomes. Cancer is such a complex disease and as such there are no clear cut answers. However, as a society we try to find answers to what causes disease and how disease can be prevented. Many very qualified and caring medical professionals help people every day who are diagnosed with cancer. More research is being conducted on chemotherapy drugs that will not harm healthy cells. If this emerges it will change the outcomes for many diseased patients.
There are targeted therapy drugs available now that are prescribed to cancer patients depending on their particular needs. You should always have a healthy dialogue with your health care provider regardless of what health concern you may be experiencing. The majority of doctors and in this case, oncologists, are kind and concerned about the well being of their patients. It is their goal as well to heal the patient and to utilize the most effective course of treatment. Unfortunately however, many oncologists are unfamiliar with the role that integrative medicine could play in a better outcome for their patients. More focus needs to be put on prevention of cancer. It is important for the medical community as well as the public to look at prevention of disease rather than waiting until one is facing a health crisis such as cancer.
Integrative Approach: There is also a growing trend toward integrating traditional treatments such as chemotherapy with alternative treatments. For example, we now understand the importance of keeping a strong immune system. When a person is treated with chemotherapy one of the unfortunate results is the destruction of healthy cells. The immune system can become very weakened and comprised in many patients. Finding ways to strengthen immunity can be very important and perhaps life saving in many instances. The integrative approach would focus on not only shrinking tumors but rebuilding immunity. Also there would be an emphasis on trying to minimize damage to healthy cells. Many integrative medical doctors are using this approach in helping patients to stay healthier and stronger while undergoing chemotherapy. The medical community is gaining a growing acceptance of integrative approaches and hopefully in time this type of treatment protocol will become more main stream.
Nutritional Approach: Research data shows a strong link between a diet high in fruits, vegetables and whole grains and a lower incidence of cancer. Diets that are nutritionally dense can only improve the health of an individual. These foods contain phytochemicals that may have the ability to destroy carcinogenic substances in the body that could lead to cancer. Nutritionists suggest moderate animal protein intake, limiting sugar consumption and consuming only healthy fats such as olive oil. Immune systems will become stronger and more resilient to developing disease. What we eat and how we treat ourselves physically and mentally can have a huge impact on our health.
Chemoprevention: There is a novel approach known as “chemoprevention”. The concept is similar to the efforts made in the field of cardiology to prevent heart disease from occurring in the first place. Doctors assess a patients risk for developing heart disease based on numerous factors and then prescribe a course of treatment that will reduce the risk of developing it. Alternative practitioners have been using this approach of preventative therapy for decades. In a similar vein, chemoprevention looks at factors that may influence the development of cancer. They assess high risk individuals by various factors such family history and genetic testing methods. The goal is to prevent further damage to cells in an effort to suppress cancer from developing in the first place. Obviously nutritional approaches are part of the protocol with chemoprevention. Over 400 chemoprevention compounds have been researched and numerous clinical studies have been conducted. This is a great example of thinking outside of the box in the medical community. Hopefully preventative measure such as “chemoprevention” is a growing trend. It is a strategy that can have far reaching effects for the future of disease control and management.
Lifestyle Factors in Prevention: There are numerous other positive things you can do to help reduce your risk of cancer.
Smoking: Smoking is obviously something you should not do. Smoking has a carcinogenic effect in the body and is very unhealthy.
Medical History: Know your personal family history and speak to your doctor about it. Together you can create a plan to maximize your health and reduce your health risks.
Alcohol Consumption: Consume alcohol in moderation. Excessive drinking has been shown to increase the risk factor for developing cancer.
Exercise: Exercise does not have to be an overwhelming obstacle to fit into your lifestyle. In fact, studies have shown moderate, low impact exercise such as walking, swimming or using a stationary bike for 30 minutes, 5 times per week can reduce your risk of developing cancer. Remember whenever beginning any dietary or lifestyle changes, always consult with a medical professional, particularly if you are taking prescription drugs or suffer from any disease or ailment.
The Issels Medical Center in Santa Barbara, California is a world renowned alternative cancer treatment center. The Issels Treatment is an Integrative Immunotherapy program with a 50 year history. Founded in 1951 by a pioneer in integrative cancer medicine, Dr. Josef Issels, MD., a German oncologist, The Issels Medical Center in Santa Barbara, California treats patients with all natural non toxic therapies for a variety of health conditions including cancer.
If you would like more information regarding the treatments available at The Issels Medical Center in Santa Barbara, California, please call 805-962-2126 or toll free at 888-374-7735. And please visit the website at: http://www.issels.com/Questionaire/questionnaire_IMC.aspx.
By Tina C. Loren
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Tina_C._Loren/200719