Non-Toxic Complementary Therapies
Whether or not you are doing standard systemic therapy, – chemo, radiation, – you will improve your chances of survival and recovery by taking a multi-pronged approach, and combining one or more gentle therapies with the 5 Rs. Other therapies you may like to explore, once you have made the essential basic changes discussed above, are listed below.
Our Top Ten:
- Vitamin C therapy
- Anti-angiogenic therapy
- Bisphosphonates (for bone cancer)
- Coley’s toxins
- Pain management
A novel therapy currently being explored at Harvard University for inoperable cancers, such as liver cancer. Alcohol therapy relies on the sheer toxicity of alcohol to wipe out cancer cells by direct injection of pure alcohol into tumours. It appears to work, but is obviously still experimental. We include it here because theoretically there is no systemic toxicity since the alcohol is directly targeted at the tumour.
Anti Angiogenic Therapy
Pioneered by Professor Judah Folkman of Harvard Medical School, after 25 years of research, Anti-Angiogenic Therapy is based on starving tumors to death by choking off their blood supply. After an initial `silver bullet’ reaction to anti-angiogenic drugs, there were disappointing results. But this therapy is now back with more realistic expectations. No longer seen as a lone `cure’, it is now proving useful when used in combination with chemotherapy. There are currently many ongoing research studies worldwide into this promising area of cancer treatment.
However, the source of a number of anti-angiogenic drugs, cartilage, both bovine and shark cartilage, is freely available. Immunopower, contains bovine cartilage, and “Benefin”, a shark cartilage powder, is readily available. For suppliers see Resources page.
Updates on some anti-angiogenic trials.
Scot Remick, MD, presented an update to a Phase II clinical trial evaluating Ca4P (combretastatin) as a treatment for advanced anaplastic thyroid cancer. Ireland researchers found that 29% of patients experienced stability of their aggressive cancer with this anti-angiogenesis inhibitor.
“Without a doubt, we have observed patient benefit from Combretastain therapy in anaplastic thyroid cancer, which is one of the most aggressive types of cancer,” says Dr. Remick, Associate Director for Clinical Research at Ireland and Professor of Medicine at Case. “In some cases, patient response has been extraordinary, and supportive of the complete response observed in one patient who is still cancer free today — more than six years after participating in our initial Phase I clinical trial. We believe that the data presented today provides further evidence of the biological activity of this compound and that additional clinical trials are warranted to investigate the potential clinical benefit of combining Combretastatin with other therapies, including chemotherapy.”
Janice Lyons, MD, on behalf of the breast cancer team of the Ireland Cancer Center, presented findings that the use of traditional chemotherapy, docetaxel, with bevacizumab (Avastin) is well tolerated in patients with locally advanced breast cancer. This Phase II study analyzed docetaxel alone compared with its use in combination with bevacizumab and found no significant differences in side effects between the two groups.
Panos Savvides, MD, on behalf of the head and neck cancer team of the Ireland Cancer Center, presented findings from a Phase I study of the use of Tarceva in combination with docetaxel in successfully treating advanced head and neck cancers. This promising research will be followed up by a Phase II study into the efficacy of Tarceva, an EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor.
Billed by their discoverer Dr Stanislaw Burzynski, as the body’s own treatment for cancer, Anti-neoplastons are peptides normally found in abundance in the blood and urine of normal healthy people, but deficient in cancer patients. In studies and trials over 40 years, Dr Burzynski has established that Anti-neoplastons can halt the spread of tumours and turn cancerous cells back to normal. Treatment is by a mixture of intravenous infusions and pills, and should be considered adjuvant rather than total therapy. There is evidence that Anti-neoplastons are of particular efficacy in brain tumours. Side effects are minimal.
Aromatherapy can be defined as the therapeutic use of essential oils from plants used to affect mood and promote health.
This ancient therapy holds a popular place in nature-based complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies and is inexpensive compared to many CAM treatments.
An essential oil is the volatile oil of certain aromatic plants. The oil is produced by steam, steam and water, or water distillation. The vapours are condensed to yield a water condensate and an essential oil that can be separated off (usually by gravity).
Selected essential oils can be blended and given via lotions, inhalants or a variety of other methods.
Aromatherapy can give a helping hand to people undergoing certain cytotoxic chemotherapy treatments in assisting to help to prevent infections arising from reduced resistance, nausea and vomiting, help to prevent burning, itching and give extra protection to skin arising from radiotherapy treatments and has even been shown to promote the production of white blood cells – particularly useful when one needs a high leukocyte count before chemotherapy can be administered.
Aromatherapy can also offer vital psychological support by offering tactile care and promoting a return to that place inside ourselves where healing can be possible.
There are some contra-indications to take into account so advice should always be sought from a qualified aromatherapist.
Kendra Kirkham, Aromatherapist Oxford, UK
(For Liver and Prostate Cancer, and liver metastases/secondaries)
Cryosurgery is a minimally invasive form of surgery, which uses very fine probes to inject liquid nitrogen directly into a tumour site. The tumour then freezes to death, there is no damage to surrounding tissues and the dead tissue is eventually reabsorbed by the body and replaced with healthy tissue. Due to the precision and cleanness of this approach there is also virtually no risk of major haemorrhage. This technique is particularly suitable for the treatment of inoperable or difficult to access tumours of the liver or prostate, which also defy radiation. It has the advantage that multiple tumours in these organs can be treated at one time, and offers a good prospect of cure. (Indeed trials to date do appear to have achieved some individual cures: survival beyond 5 years). Cryosurgery is guided by ultrasound, though MRI imaging is currently being investigated. The pioneer of Cryosurgery is Gary M Onik of the Florida Hospital Celebration Health for Surgical Advancement in Florida. (See Doctors)
Also known as MBV, Mixed Bacterial Vaccines, usually done as a one-off injection, which can stimulate the immune system and alert it to the presence of tumours which normally evade it. Coley’s Toxins historically – in the late 19th century and early 20th century – had a 50% cure rate for soft tissue sarcomas and lymphomas, but were forgotten when radiation therapy became fashionable. Medical interest in this therapy is now reviving, particularly in Japan and China, which has a special Coley’s Hospital. Side effects can include very high fevers, chills and shaking, all signs of the immune system gearing up. A high temperature is by itself toxic to tumours, which do not survive heat well.
Max Gerson was a German doctor who in the early twentieth century devised an anti-cancer diet and regime based on radically altering the sodium/potassium ratio in the body for the better, thus allowing optimal cellular functions, and nutrition, coupled with intensive detoxification through the use of coffee enemas.
Coffee enemas (see Detox, in First Steps, 5 Rs of Cancer Survival,) are a scientifically established, and medically accepted, way of stimulating the production of glutathione-s-transferases, a major liver detoxifying enzyme family. The diet is vegetarian, low in protein, with fresh organic fruit and vegetable juices daily, and certain specified supplements, such as potassium, niacin and vitamin C. At the end of his life Gerson testified before Congress with the details of 50 cases he had cured. His daughter, Charlotte, has continued Gerson’s work in the U.S. However, she has not made an attempt to integrate modern nutritional state-of-the-art knowledge into the therapy. This is being done by Gar Hildebrand. A retrospective study showed that the Gerson therapy is much more effective than chemotherapy for ovarian cancer and melanoma, both particularly aggressive forms of cancer. Gerson himself had notable successes with various kinds of brain tumour, even after some neurological damage had occurred. Orthomolecular Oncology suggests combining Immunopower with Gerson as an update. We can also cite a remarkable case of a 11 year remission in Multiple Myeloma, another fast-moving, relentless cancer without conventional cure, otherwise conventionally untreated, achieved through a combination of Gerson and modern orthomolecular approaches. Gerson is a powerful, comprehensive therapy, still capable of producing cures, even in its unmodulated form. However, it requires great discipline, time, and extra assistance. Read Gerson’s book and/or contact the Gerson Institute for further details.
Heat therapy, or hyperthermia, is based on the fact that cancer cells do not survive high temperatures well. At the critical high temperature a cancer cell will die long before any damage is done to the body’s normal cells. Heat therapy can be done either on a local basis, with the direct application of heat to superficial tumours, or, systemically, by raising a cancer patient’s temperature up to 42oC for several hours at a time. Heat therapy is often combined with chemotherapy, as they appear to be mutually enhancing. Heat therapy is nonetheless efficacious alone, if done properly. A mild form of readily accessible heat therapy is the regular use of saunas, (for those cancer patients free of cardio-vascular and brain complications, with good kidney/liver function).
Dr Emmanuel Varipartis uses heat therapy at the Omnicare Medical Centre, 2 Brady Street, Sydney, Australia. Tel: +61 2 9960 4133, Fax: 0061 2 9968 2417.
Heat therapy is also available in Europe, and in the UK from Dr Shideh Pouria, The Burghwood Clinic, 34 Brighton Road, Banstead, SM7 1BS.
An old formula with a range of established immunomodulating and anti-carcinogenic plant extracts. This therapy should be treated solely as adjuvant A similar but more potent formula derived from Chinese Herbs known as ACBA or “anti-cancer botanical agents” has recently been reformulated under the direction of Dr Keith Block MD (see Doctors).
Immuno Placental Therapy / VG-1000 (Govallo’s Vaccine)
Dr Valentine Govallo is a Russian immunologist and doctor who saw in the analogy between the way a fetus evades the mother’s immune system and the way cancer evades the immune system, a possible solution to cancer. He then developed a vaccine from the human placenta after a live birth which appears to wake up the immune system of cancer patients to this evasion. Records of Govallo’s first trial with 45 patients and IPT in 1974 show 29 (64.4%) still alive after more than 20 years. Side effects are typical of many vaccinations: fever, malaise, flu-like symptoms for 1 to 2 days. Due to the strong possibility of “tumour lysis syndrome” because of the newly mounted immune attack, it is critical that detoxification and full nutritional strategies, including the use of coffee enemas, be in place before a course of IPT.
William Coley, of Coley’s Toxins fame, was probably the first successful immunotherapist of the modern age. The assumption made by Coley, that if the immune system is alerted to the presence of cancer, – which usually goes undetected by mimicking pregnancy and by other means, – it is capable of attacking and killing tumour cells, lies behind many current immunotherapeutic approaches. Dr Steve Rosenberg of NCI has gained fame, – and both “lost” and cured patients, – by synthetic manipulation of just one or two “cytokines”, the body’s immune hormones. This approach is essentially crude and unbalanced, because it does not draw on the full complement of the immune system’s powers. The use of another immune hormone, interferon, as sole or adjunctive therapy, has also had varying success, probably for similar reasons, though interferon has proved less toxic than Dr Rosenberg’s use of various “interleukins”. This type of immunotherapy, which in the past has also included use of BCG vaccines, is known as Non-specific Immunotherapy.
A more promising approach in this field, with some early successes, notably Myeloma and some Lymphomas, and no apparent downside, is Active Immunotherapy, or the use of vaccines of various kinds, some tailor made to individual patients and their tumours, usually based on extracted tumour tissue. The National Cancer Institute alone numbers over 100 vaccine trials. Adoptive Immunotherapy uses lymphocytes from cancer patients which are taught to recognize tumour antigen – bits of protein on the cell surface, distinguishing characteristics of tumour cells. Sometimes a whole individual tumour cell is fused to a “dendritic cell”, the white blood cell that summons T-cells to the kill, after identifying enemy invaders.
Another aspect of immunotherapy on which much work and clinical trials has been done is Passive Immunization or Antibody based therapies. Immunized monoclonal antibodies can be used to deliver a whole range of tumour cytotoxic agents in a completely targeted manner, like guided missiles. These agents include radioactive isotopes; or toxins which would kill the organism if not specifically targeted, (such as ricin); chemotherapy drugs; enzymes; genetic drugs such as antisense DNA molecules intended to block viral protein production in cancer cells; inflamatory molecules such as Tumour Necrosis Factor, and immune cells themselves, e.g. genetically engineered T cells, etc. This is an exciting area where much work is being done and more scientific development can be expected. A thorough search on the Internet, beginning with the NCI’s PDQ database (link), should reveal information on current clinical trials.
Today there are a variety of treatments and strategies that use the immune system to tackle cancer. Some, such as the antibody-based breast cancer drug Herceptin, are now used routinely to treat cancer patients.
Indocin is a non-steroid drug, like aspirin, with similar side-effects (i.e. stomach bleeding and ulcer perforation can be a problem in sensitive individuals). Indocin interferes with prostaglandin 2 production. The latter is an “eicosanoid”. Eicosanoids promote the inflammatory responses in the body which in turn favours tumour growth. Thus inhibiting prostaglandin E2 inhibits tumour growth, so that the immune system can better cope with the tumour. However, remember that high doses of Omega-3 fatty acids are also anti-inflammatory and animal studies have also shown reduced tumour growth with Omega-3s, an orthomolecular substance, which Indocin is not. (A rare contra-indication to Omega-3s is blood clotting difficulty problems, e.g. thrombocytopaenia).
Kelley’s Metabolic Typing Therapy
Kelley was an American dentist who noted a division in cancer patients (and in the general population) between those with a sympathetic nervous system dominance and those with a parasympathetic nervous system dominance, with gradations of dominance in each category. According to Kelley, this distinction translates into very different biochemical profiles, and differing organ strengths and weaknesses, with a resulting tendency to particular cancers in each category. Thus Kelley’s approach to cancer treatment is first to diagnose the particular category into which a patient falls, through a series of metabolic tests, that include looking at things such as the body’s acid-alkaline balance, endocrine profile, organ function, biochemistry etc, – then to prescribe a diet, supplements, enzymes and detoxification regime, that compensates for the diverse physical weaknesses produced by the varying dominance in each category. The net result is cancer diets varying from extreme carnivorousness to vegan. Kelley’s Therapy is now pioneered by New York basedDr Nicholas Gonzalez MD, who has done a small study, funded by Nestle, in which he has achieved survival times of more than 3 years with Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma, where survival is usually a matter of weeks to months.
Nicholas J. Gonzalez, M.D., P.C. 36A East 36th St., Suite 204. New York, NY 10016.
Tel: +1 212 213 3337
Liposomal Intensive C Therapy
New research in the UK and the USA has shown that a combination of two forms of vitamin C, taken by mouth, can achieve the high blood levels thought necessary to have an anti-cancer effect, which we previously thought only possible with large intravenous doses. These two forms are a a combination of two forms of vitamin C by mouth –the “ordinary” water-soluble vitamin plus a new, liposomal (oil-based) form. The two forms appear to be absorbed into the body by different routes, adding up to give a much higher level. We have worked with the researchers to bring this to patients. Please be clear; there are as yet no clinical trials of this regime in cancer patients; it is not “evidence-based medicine” (there are two clinical trials of intravenous vitamin C going on at present, that we know about). See Last Resort in First Steps for more information.
Dr Damien Downing MBBS
Dr John Meldrum (Nutrition Associates Ltd)
Galtres House, Lysander Close, York, YO30 4XB
(Also Consultancies In Edinburgh, Harlow, And The Medical Biolab In London).
Tel: +44 (0) 1904 691591
Fax: +44 (0) 1904 690588
We have already mentioned melatonin with respect to Insomnia. In cancer, there have been some dramatic reports, including one in which Melatonin was combined with Interleukin-2, an immune system hormone, and then compared with chemotherapy against non-small cell lung cancer. The survival in the melatonin – Interleukin 2 arm of the trial was 45% at the end of one year, as opposed to 19% in the chemotherapy arm. Similar survival advantages have been shown for melatonin alone with inoperable brain tumours, metastatic colon and gastric cancers. Melatonin lowers stress, is a major anti-oxidant and key immune system modulator: all good things in the fight against cancer.
Nucleic Acids (2LC1 and 2LCL1)
Nucleic acids are found in the cells of all living things. The doctors who pioneered their use in cancer have found that they “re-balance” the weakened immune system, and there are documented cases of recovery which include many advanced cancers – metastatic liver and breast cancer, leukaemias etc. However, because nucleic acids are usually present in infinitesimal quantities, and high doses are toxic, the principles of homeopathy have been applied to their orthomolecular use and they are available as 2 special homeopathic blends: 2LC1 and 2LCL1. (see Resources Section)
A good intake of fibre from fruit, vegetables and grains is very important in an anti-cancer diet. But work done with pectin fibre derived from citrus fruits suggests pectin has a role in preventing metastasis, in particular in colon and prostate cancer. If this is a serious concern, Dr Lawrence Taylor MD recommends a modified citrus pectin supplement of 15 grams a day.
Phototherapy/Photo Dynamic Therapy
Phototherapy involves injection into the body of a light-sensitive drug, usually porfimer-based, that is rapidly cleared by normal cells but tends to concentrate and linger in cancer cells. Within 48 hours of injection a non-thermal fibre-optic laser light is then directed at the tumour. This activates the drug within the tumour releasing a powerful form of “Singlet” oxygen which destroys all cancer cells in the vicinity. Side effects are minimal, consisting of occasional oedema, possible fever, and in all cases UV light sensitivity for about a month. Indeed, you may be advised to avoid sunlight completely for 4 weeks or more to prevent local burns near the tumour site. Photofrin (QLT PhotoTherapeutics / Sanofi Pharmaceuticals US) is an FDA approved first generation photo-therapy drug which has demonstrated curative power in early stage localized lung cancer. It has been approved for use in Canada, the UK, Japan and Holland. So far phototherapeutic drugs have been tested on lung, head and neck, and gastro-intestinal, bladder and skin cancers with much success. Foscan (Scotia Pharmaceuticals Ltd), has shown even greater efficacy than Photofrin, and there is much promise in second generation agents such as Temoporfin and Amino levulovic acid, currently also in trials. This procedure is obviously still experimental, so more may be expected as the refinements increase. It has the advantage of being minimally invasive, almost a “magic bullet”.
A current exciting approach in phototherapy is the development of different porphyrins which can be used both to diagnose and treat tumours simultaneously. New generation lasers also have an advantage in reaching tumours deeper within the body than previously. The latter approaches are being pioneered in the US: Stamford/ University of Pennsylvania.
Dr Stephen Brown and his team at the National Medical Laser Centre at University College London have treated over 500 cancer and pre-cancer patients with PDT over the last 10 years with a high degree of success.
A “polynucleotide reductase” or “metalo-vitamin”, PolyMVA is a patented orthomolecular medicine which works to repair genes. As cancer is the end result of genes that have been damaged over many years, PolyMVA represents radical surgery at the molecular level, yet it is not an allopathic drug, foreign to the body. At present, PolyMVA is available only in Mexico, and also goes under the name “Polydox”. Continuing tests in the US suggest it is effective for brain, lung, ovarian and breast cancers. Dosage for PolyMVA in pain or active cancer: 2 teaspoons 4 times a day for 5 days. Then drop down to 1 teaspoon 4 times a day for 5 days. Thereafter, 1 teaspoon daily. (For further information contact Dr Lawrence Taylor M.D. (see Doctors).
TVZ-7 Lymphocyte Treatment
TVZ-7 is specific immunotherapy, (as opposed to the general immunotherapy of BCG vaccination or Coley’s Toxins) It is not a drug but a Biological Response Modifier. TVZ-7 is an extract of cytokines – immune system hormones – and other immune activating chemicals, taken from cultured B lymphocytes. Mature B lymphocytes are white cells that live in the spleen, lymph glands and peripheral lymphoid tissue. They can independently recognise “antigens”, anything foreign to the body, and mount an attack by creating antibodies. Whilst the scientists behind TVZ-7 are not yet quite sure how exactly it works, it has induced dramatic responses in cases of pancreatic, liver and brain cancer, as well as having an impact on pain control The dose is 44-50 treatments over 14 days. (See Resources). For more information about TVZ-7, contact:
Integrated Biologics Ltd,
Biotechnology Reasearch & Development,
130 Commerce Way, Woburn, MA 01801, U.S.A.
Tel: +1 508 428 1717
Fax: +1 508 477 0788
Ukrain is a combination of the celandine plant, Chelidonium majus, and one of the earliest chemotherapy drugs, thiotepa, or thiophosphoric acid. Curiously, when combined, the toxic side-efffects of thiotepa become non-existent and Ukrain is “selective” for cancerous tissue in cell-killing capacity whilst paradoxically strengthening healthy cells and the immune system. Ukrain appears to halt cancer growth by interfering with oxygen respiration in cancer cells. Success rates with Ukrain in cancer are best in the early stages: 93% and 72% in Stages I and II, and 30% for advanced metastatic cancer. Laboratory testing to date indicates Ukrain can affect even cancers such as brain, lung and melanoma. This information comes from 10 year studies at the Ukrainian Anti-Cancer Institute in Vienna. (See Organisations)
Vitamin C Therapy – High Dose
See Last Resort in First Steps for more information.
Vitamin D Analogue Therapy
Vitamin D given in large doses has been shown in laboratory work to make cancer cells “differentiate”, that is develop from the primitive forms characteristic of cancer cells into the more complex, organised forms of normal cells. Since Vitamin D is one of the few vitamins for which there is a relatively low toxicity threshold, (400 i.u. daily), scientists have developed analogues of Vitamin D which do not have the toxicity problem and can thus be used at the effective high dose. Work has been done with Vitamin D analogues in prostate and breast cancers and though still at an experimental stage this approach looks promising. However, at present, it must be considered solely adjuvant and not a sole therapy. (See suppliers). A standard dose of Drisdol is 50,000 i.u. once a week.
For more detailed, up-to-the-minute information on practitioners and trials of the above-mentioned therapies, you should do a search on:
Texas University School of Public Health: www.sph.uth.tmc.edu
and NCI: www.cancertrials.nci.nih.gov
For Carcinoid Tumours and other rare cancers, the Carcinoid Cancer Foundation has a website at : www.carcinoid.org The biggest advance for carcinoid patients in recent years was the introduction of Sandostatin (octreotide), a drug made by Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp. It relieves diarrhea and other symptoms and is also used to reduce growth hormone levels in patients with acromegaly, a disfiguring and debilitating disorder caused by excessive secretion of the hormone. In 1998 a long-acting form of Sandostatin was approved, reducing injection frequency from three times a day to once a month.
The National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) has an online database offering information on rare forms of cancer or disorders that predispose for cancer, and may be able to offer details of patient specific clinical trials. www.rarediseases.org
Salvestrols are natural compounds that come from the diet which are converted inside diseased cells, by a specific enzyme, into compounds that can destroy diseased cells, such as cancer cells. They are part of a natural rescue mechanism and may be essential for the maintenance of good health. Salvestrols should be present in many fruits and roots, but are depleted in the modern diet by the use of fungicides and food processing. Medicinal chemistry professor Gerald Potter and his team have developed a food supplement, Fruit Force, which contains concentrated salvestrols. Initial trials document 70 cases where these supplements have markedly improved the health of cancer sufferers. Professor Potter hopes to do more trials in the near future.
FOR BRAIN TUMOURS
Boron Neutron Capture Therapy
If your tumour is a Glioma, you should investigate BNCT, – boron neutron capture therapy – a one-session radiotherapy treatment, with minimal side- effects, and improved survival to date. This promising technique is still in trials at the following:
Professor Robert Zamenhof
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center,
Dept of Radiology,
1 Deaconess Road,
Boston MA 02215,
Tel: +1 617 667 0175
Fax: +1 617 632 0235
Web: www.bnct.org. (For detailed explanations and ways to contact clinical and research staff.)
Professor Dr Wolfgang Sauerwein
University Hospital, Essen GFS, Hufelanderstr.55, 45122 Essen, Germany,
(in association with NRG Petten, Netherlands)
Tel: +49 201 7232052
Fax: +49 201 7235908
Dr Heikki Joensuu
HUCH Department of Oncology, Haartmaninkatu 4, 00290 Helsinki, Finland
Tel: +358 9 471 73208
Fax: +358 9 471 74203
Dr Keiji Kanda, Research Reactor Institute
Kyoto University, Kumatori-cho, Sennan-gun, 590-04 Japan
Dr Leon Turjanski,
Comision Nacional de Energia Atomica, Argentina
For Brain Tumours in general
For Anti-neoplastons Therapy only, contact:
Stanislaus R Burzynski, MD, PhD
Richmond Avenue, 260 Houston, TX 77082, U.S.A.,
Tel: +1 281 597 0111.
Clinical Trials: www.virtualtrials.org.
This web site, supported by the Musella Foundation for Brain Tumour Research and Information, maintains extensive treatment and clinical trial information for brain tumours.
Another approach for Gliomas is the use of a live strain of the Herpes virus – HSV 1716. This is still at the research stage, but might prove promising in the future.
Nikolai G Rainov, Carsten Fels, Jan Wilhelm Droege, Christoph Schäfer, Christof M Kramm and Ting-Chao Chou. Temozolomide enhances herpes simplex virus thymidine kinase/ganciclovir therapy of malignant glioma. Cancer Gene Therapy, September 2001, Volume 8, Number 9, Pages 662-668.
Radiotherapy and Brain Tumours
Another kind of super-targeted radiotherapy which may be useful for brain tumours is Stereotactic Radio Surgery, also known as the Gamma Knife, which has been available in Europe for 25 years. As it is a “push-button technique”, it can also be used to treat brain metastases of tumours from other primary sites. Up to 3 or 4 metastases can be treated in sequence, at any one time.
WARNING: You should however probably avoid prophylactic cranial irradiation which is often done to supposedly prevent brain metastases in lung and breast cancer. There is no known survival benefit at present from prophylactic cranial irradiation. Brain metastases may occur anyway, and you will then be left without a weapon of last resort, as in general there is a limit to how much radiation the brain can bear. (About 40 or 50 Gys, or 40,000 to 50,000 rads, though some top American radiologists will occasionally exceed this limit if sufficient time has elapsed since the last treatment, and the situation is desperate.) A new US-led experimental approach for inoperable tumours in other parts of the body is simply to open up surgically and irradiate tumours close-to. This may be worth investigating where there are no other options.
For protection against the side-effects of radiation, you may want to consider taking Alkylglycerols. These are special fats found primarily in Shark Liver Oil and human mother’s milk. Alkylglycerols not only protect from the side effects of radiation, (and chemotherapy), they also have an anti-cancer effect per se. This has been demonstrated well in animal studies, including one at Johns Hopkins University Medical School which showed control over brain tumours. Thus it seems unlikely that you need worry that the cancer will also be protected from the radiation. See suppliers
Proton Beam Therapy
Proton beam therapy has the advantage, in theory, over conventional radiation that it can be targeted with extreme precision, without damage to healthy surrounding tissue, either superficial or deep, thereby allowing an extraordinary escalation of dosage to the tumour. Allied to ever better tumour imaging and localization techniques, this would appear to offer state of the art radiation therapy: maximum tumour kill factor with minimum host damage.
Proton beam therapy is particularly relevant in treatment of pituitary, prostate tumours and paediatric chordoma – a spinal cord tumour – where it is imperative to treat with totally clean margins to avoid serious collateral damage. In practice, this technique has shown substantial side-effects in past European use. In contrast, the US experience has not encountered major side effect problems and seems to vindicate the theory.
The Harvard Cyclotron, Cambridge, Mass. U.S.A.
Tel: +1 617 495 1000.
Department of Radiology, Massachusetts General Hospital, 15 Parkman Street, Boston, Mass 02114, U.S.A.
Tel: +1 617 726 3033.
Loma Linda University’s Proton Treatment Center,
11234 Anderson Street, Loma Linda, California, CA 92350, U.S.A.
Tel: +1 909 558 4000
There is evidence to show that up to 95% of pain in cancer can be successfully controlled with the right medication. In practice, there is a widespread lack of application of current knowledge, for a number of reasons which can include patients failing to communicate their needs. Pain can very quickly sap the will to live. So if you want to beat the odds, insist on a state-of-the-art approach, consult a pain specialist. You should also however be aware of the importance of weaning yourself from pain-killers as soon as you begin to recover.
The Oxford Pain Internet Site gives details on analgesics, side effects and alternative pain treatments.
For a list of pain management centres in the UK, see www.tamethepain.co.uk
- The American Pain Society
- International Association of the Study of Pain
- American Pain Foundation
- Pain Resource Center and Education
- Medscape’s Cancer Pain Management Resource Center – a collection of Pain Service at the Department of Neurology, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York City, U.S.A. for the latest medical news and information on cancer-related pain.
For bone metastases/multiple myeloma
Bone Metastases are one of the greatest sources of pain in late stage cancer. But now you can do something about them in a new approach that combines orthodox and orthomolecular medicine.
Bisphosphonates are bone-building drugs, initially developed against osteoporosis. However, latterly it has been discovered that they interfere with the nesting of cancer in the bone and, probably because of this, radically affect pain control once the treatment is well under way (3 months onwards). They can be taken orally or intravenously. The daily oral route can produce nausea and digestion problems and the drug is poorly absorbed. The IV route – done usually once a month – must be supervised by an expert and done in not less than three hours, as speedy infusions can deplete blood electrolytes and cause cardiac problems.
The long term effects of bisphosphonates are not known. But in the short term they appear relatively non-toxic and can radically halt cancer-associated bone loss and hypercalcaemia – high blood calcium levels which can lead to kidney failure. Because bisphosphonates are incorporated into bone and have a relatively long shelf-life, their beneficial effects can last for many months post-treatment. Levels of Vitamin D, calcium, magnesium and serum electrolytes, should be measured prior to treatment and then heavily supplemented, as bisphosphonates tend to lower all these. This will ensure maximum benefit. If bone building is the aim, it is important to check there are no stomach and intestinal absorption problems for the necessary bone building nutrients. Follow an exercise programme devised by your bone specialist. Further, it is recommended you supplement with bone-growth promoting nutriceuticals such as Ipriflavone, a synthetic isoflavone. Ipriflavone is essentially a phyto-oestrogens, (natural, plant oestrogens) and works on the principle that, for maximum bone growth, oestrogen is needed – even in males. (Asians, who ingest diets rich in phyto-oestrogens, have some of the lowest rates of osteoporosis worldwide). Work done with Ipriflavone at the Mayo Clinic and elsewhere suggests it may be just as efficacious, or even more so, than bisphosphonates in bone-building. Ipriflavone or bisphosphonates may be combined or used alone. Ipriflavone has less adverse effects than bisphosphonates long term, in that it does alter the crystalline structure of bone, and lower serum electrolytes. Ipriflavone should be combined with 1000 mg calcium daily. The daily total dose of Ipriflavone is 600 mg, taken in three split doses. (See Resources for suppliers).
Bisphosphonates come under many brand names and there are now a number of “generations” of them. Pamidronate, brand name “Aredia”, currently has the longest good track record, for Myeloma, and is probably a good middle-of-the-road choice. Other bisphosphonates can have increased toxicities and even a bone-destructive effect at the wrong dose. So for clear guidance on the right one to use, plus dosage, it is critical to consult a bone cancer specialist.
Alert: Jan 2008 – the FDA has highlighted the possibility of severe and sometimes incapacitating bone, joint, and/or muscle pain in patients taking bisphosphonates. For more information go to: www.fda.gov/cder/drug/infopage/bisphosphonates