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How Cancer Patients are Discouraged from Trying Alternative Treatments

Updated on May 19, 2016

More Survivors are Going Public

The number of people who've survived "terminal" cancer appears to be growing. Their many testimonies on the Internet are getting harder to ignore.

Many of these former patients were sent home to die. Others knew, from the outset, they had little chance of escaping with their lives. So they chose a radically different course from the moment they were diagnosed.

It's refreshing to read their stories and to realize they're alive today because they took the time to research all of their options, and then took the necessary steps to restore their health.

In many cases, this involved a lifestyle makeover, coupled with various alternative treatments to detoxify their body and to ramp up their immune system.

"There's Nothing More We Can Do For You"

That statement is only partially true. Oncologists in the United States must follow a standard formula. With very few exceptions, chemotherapy, radiation and surgery are the only treatments they can recommend. Venturing into the realm of alternative medicine is something they won't do, since it can result in losing their license to practice.

Many patients are surprised to discover, in the midst of their battle, that their "cancer specialist" basically prescribes chemotherapy and interprets diagnostic scans. Looking at cancer from a different angle is not what he or she is trained to do, or wants to do. If a patient asks about dietary changes, for instance, they're often told to "eat anything you want."

This advice is diametrically opposed to what someone would hear if they visited an alternative medical clinic in Germany or in Mexico. Patients are put on a strict organic diet. Food with chemicals is not allowed. Genetically modified ingredients are out of the question.

In these countries, alternative cancer treatment is not outlawed, as it is here. So very advanced treatments have flourished. Since these therapies are non-toxic, they also don't have the side effects associated with conventional chemotherapy and radiation.

Mexican oncologists, for instance, can legally prescribe herbs and plant-based therapies with a long record of success. They also have access to state-of-the-art weapons to destroy cancer, such as Photo Sono-Dynamic Therapy, which employs sound waves and light beams to kill tumors.

Hyperthermia using radio waves, which don't kill normal cells, is available in both Mexico and in Germany.

What Happens When a Patient Asks About Alternative Treatments

Someone I know is fighting cancer right now. She asked her doctor about changing her diet. She was told to eat anything, including candy, ice cream and soda. She was assured food plays no role in her cancer.

When asked about whether she should do alternative medicine, along with conventional treatments, her oncologist dismissed this idea. To the patient, it came as a surprise that her doctor wasn't better educated, or at least interested, in every aspect of cancer.

One oncologist who blogs lamented the fact that one of his patients won't be doing chemotherapy. The doctor admitted his cancer had probably spread. This means toxic drugs aren't going to cure him. Yet the doctor was still hoping to convince this patient to have these treatments, which had little to no chance of restoring his health, if his cancer wasn't contained.

A widely quoted study from McGill University in Canada underscored the fact that oncologists are aware that chemotherapy has limits. Yet they continue to prescribe it for Stage IV patients, with horrendous results. The study found that 75 percent of the 118 oncologists polled said they'd refuse these drugs themselves.

Chemotherapy is highly toxic.
Chemotherapy is highly toxic. | Source

Dying Patients are Not Offered Anything Else

Patients with cancer that doesn't respond to chemotherapy are considered "terminal." Even when it's clear the cancer is winning, these patients still aren't encouraged to try something new, even if it's "unproven."

Usually, they are strongly discouraged from considering alternative medicine. One of the reasons often cited is the danger of "false hope." However, without hope, people give up.

Isn't it better to try something that might help, and won't hurt, than doing nothing at all, especially when you've been given a short time to live?

Concern about false hope, though, isn't a factor when it comes to dispensing chemotherapy, which is largely useless for solid tumors. (Testicular cancer is one of the few exceptions.)

A report published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that most patients expected to live, despite long odds. More than 80 percent of advanced colon cancer patients assumed they'd beat their disease with chemo. And about 70 percent of lung cancer patients thought the same.

However, any oncologist would tell you that the chances of this happening are slim to none.

Cancer Does Not Have to be a Death Sentence - A Short Video by Ty Bollinger

The Problems of Complimentary Cancer Care

In response to the demand for new approaches, many cancer centers now have added complementary medicine departments. It's good that the mind/body connection between cancer is being explored, and that patients can take advantage of various stress-reducing techniques. However, some of the methods being offered, such as yoga and reiki, may conflict with one's religious beliefs if they are Catholic or evangelical Christian. In recent years, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has spoken out against reiki.

Complementary care differs from alternative medicine in that it's used alongside chemotherapy. Evidence is mounting that these toxic drugs may be counterproductive. It was recently reported in the scientific journal Nature that chemotherapy may increase a protein known as WNT16B, which facilitates the growth of malignancies.

What is an Integrative Physician?

An integrative physician is a medical doctor who specializes in restoring health, but not with toxic drugs. A small number of these specialists practice in clinics outside of the mainstream medical centers. These are some of the doctors actress Suzanne Somers interviewed in Knockout, the story of her bout with breast cancer and her experience of being misdiagnosed with metastatic cancer. In the back of her book, she includes a list of these physicians who are located in the United States.

Disclaimer

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These products are not meant to diagnose‚ treat or cure any disease or medical condition.

This article is not intended as medical advice, and is published only for the sake of discussion. People with health concerns should discuss them with a licensed professional. The author assumes no responsibility for treatment decisions or outcome.

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  • thebiologyofleah profile image

    thebiologyofleah 3 years ago from Massachusetts

    Interesting stuff here- I have heard that stat before about how many oncologists would turn down chemo, it is amazing. It really tells us all we need to know. I have had the same experience of pharmaceuticals being the only answer conventional doctors have, for me it was for much less serious conditions than cancer but it does ring true that conventational medicine is often one note. With cancer it is a real shame because, of course, for the most part patients will take what their oncologists say as gospel.

  • ologsinquito profile image
    Author

    ologsinquito 3 years ago from USA

    It is really a shame, especially if they fall into the category where chemo is clearly not going to help them. Discouraging someone from trying something that could possibly make a difference, and allow them to live long enough to raise young children, or meet their grandchildren, is very wrong in my book.

  • FlourishAnyway profile image

    FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

    With no experience of cancer (thankfully) but with plenty of exposure to pharmaceuticals and the medical machine, I came to the same conclusion: that if I ever got cancer I would likely not elect the "swing for the fences" chemo path. To not discuss a full range of options, including the option of doing nothing, is equivalent to not treating the full patient. Thought-provoking hub.

  • ologsinquito profile image
    Author

    ologsinquito 3 years ago from USA

    Thanks so much FlourishAnyway, it drives me a little crazy to realize that some patients are given a very poor prognosis, but still discouraged from deviating from the protocol.

  • bdegiulio profile image

    Bill De Giulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

    This is very, very interesting. Why are we so short-sighted here when it comes to treating cancer. I find it hard to believe that with all of the money this country has thrown at cancer research that we have not made more progress. I think all options should be considered when people are faced with this dreaded disease. Thanks so much for the education.

  • ologsinquito profile image
    Author

    ologsinquito 3 years ago from USA

    Thanks bdeguilio, dying cancer patients need information and they need options. No doubt about it.

  • Nadine May profile image

    Nadine May 3 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

    Excellent article and I will share it onto my Facebook. I hope you get lots of hits, well done!

  • ologsinquito profile image
    Author

    ologsinquito 3 years ago from USA

    Thank you so much Nadine. I hope it can help someone.

  • Bk42author profile image

    Brenda Thornlow 3 years ago from New York

    Thank you for posting this. I can't believe your friends doctor encouraged her to continue eating what she wants. It should be common knowledge that what you eat affects you in every way. It doesn't surprise me, though, that doctors discourage patients from alternative medicine. It's a shame because everyone should be made aware of the different options from which they can choose. Great article!

  • ologsinquito profile image
    Author

    ologsinquito 3 years ago from USA

    Hi Bk42author, these doctors are so blinded, unfortunately. It's a crime that patients aren't being told of all their options, so they can make potentially life-saving decisions.

  • RTalloni profile image

    RTalloni 2 years ago from the short journey

    This important topic needs to be highlighted many times over so people at least have the option of researching alternative responses to a cancer diagnosis. Thanks for opening a discussion about it here.

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