What are the PROs and CONs for chemo and radiation as part of a natural cancer treatment plan?
The current Canadian medical system is an excellent acute or emergency healthcare system. Unfortunately it is not set up to successfully prevent and treat chronic disease such as cancer. While chemo and radiation are extremely toxic therapies they definitely do have a place in the treatment of some cancers. For example, leukemia, lymphoma and testicular cancer have a very good response to chemotherapy however the success rate is much lower for solid tumours such as colon or breast cancer. Some new-targeted chemotherapies have very promising effects in stop cancer growth and manage the disease but eventually the cancer cells become resistant to these drugs as well. I look at chemotherapy, radiation and surgery as ways to buy the patient some time. These therapies can shrink tumours and stop cancer growth temporarily so the patient doesn’t die from those complications (like a tumours pressing on an organ) but they never eliminate all cancer cells.
The fundamental problem is that none of these therapies address the root cause of cancer. While there are many potential cancer triggers, well established evidence tells us that substances that damage our cellular DNA and promote abnormal cell growth (i.e. UV radiation, smoking, synthetic hormones, etc.) can lead to cancer development. Unfortunately chemo and radiation do nothing to change these factors and actually strongly contribute to them. Chemotherapy and radiation all have short and long term side effects, which severely impair the body’s ability to heal. Over and above the specific acute side effects (nausea, mouth sores, skin burns, organ damage etc.) they also impair the immune system, which is responsible for killing the remaining cancer cells once the chemo or radiation is done. The long-term side effects of both chemotherapy and radiation are secondary cancers since both these therapies cause damage to healthy cells, which can lead to metastatic changes.1 Again this is where an integrative approach is so beneficial.
When natural therapies are used during and after chemo and radiation they can be very effective at reducing both the short and long term side effects. This also is where natural therapies are so valuable because they help stimulate the body’s ability to destroy the remaining cancer cells. To find out more about how natural therapies can support your immune system and reduce the side effect of conventional treatments book an appointment at the pureBalance integrative cancer centre.
1) Ng AK, Travis LB. Subsequent malignant neoplasms in cancer survivors. Cancer J. 2008 Nov-Dec;14(6):429-34
Dr. Paul Hrkal, ND