Alternative Cancer Treatments

Alternative Cancer TreatmentsComplementary or alternative medicine usually accepts surgery as a potentially curative procedure. The Immune Recovery Centers of America agree, but we believe that the surgeon should spare as many lymph nodes as possible. These nodes have seen the tumor and have been battling it for up to a decade; they are the first line of immune defense and become a key factor in immunotherapy for cancer treatments which involve immune “boosting” in one form or another. Likewise chemotherapy and radiation (C&R) weaken or destroy the immune system. Studies have shown that chemotherapy and radiation can increase survival (primarily 5 year survival). There is debate as to which conditions following surgery would best benefit from C&R.

If surgery has removed the entire detectable tumor, then C&R is given as a prophylactic against tumor recurrence. We believe that this will only be useful if there is actually undetected residual tumor. It is irrational to believe that C&R can prevent cancer. The IRCs of America and others believe that immune therapy would be more effective than C&R following surgery, based on scientific reasoning, common sense and observation. We believe that C&R leaves the patient more vulnerable to long term recurrence and to metastasis because they also suppress the immune system..

If surgery has not removed the entire tumor, then C&R are rarely curative. We consider that under these circumstances C&R are only palliative, and the patient should be so informed. Leaving the patient to hope for a cure only leads to distrust of all cancer treatments as a whole. When there is such residual tumor, the patient’s only real option is immune therapy augmented with some alternative therapies for cancer in the opinion of the IRCs.

The IRCA consider themselves a medical organization who primarily stress immune therapy.  Immunotherapy of cancer is sometimes classified as alternative medicine due to it not being well understood in much of the medical community.  It is ironic that there is more knowledge of immune function outside of conventional medical practice than within.
The Immune Recovery Centers of America's approach is to integrate those therapies to accomplish a set of goals:

  1. To slow or halt the growth of the tumor.
  2. To determine and correct the damage sustained by the immune system.
  3. To determine and correct the causes of immune damage.
  4. To contra-suppress the tumor.
  5. To stimulate the immune system towards a major immune attack of the cancer.
  6. To put the cancer in remission, or barring that outcome, to gain and hold a quality of life for the patient.
  7. To teach the patient a new way of living that will support better health through mental/emotional, life-style and dietary changes.

To accomplish these goals an individualized protocol is developed for each patient, utilizing some of the many possible integrative medicine treatment modalities available.

There are many so called alternative agents with a record of slowing cancer growth. While there are claims of cures with many of these agents; the data for cure is inconclusive.  However, the data on slowing cancer growth is definitive. There are also drugs purported to cure, as laetrile, ukraine, etc.  While again the data is usually inconclusive, there are so many of these claims that they should not be dismissed out of hand. Then there is a large group of agents, available as supplements, which are more useful to maintain health and prevent cancer that is prophylactic use. Their primary value is as part of a maintenance program following therapeutic treatment.

1. The newest and best hope for halting tumor growth is the process of antiangiogenesis (see link). Blocking new blood vessel formation greatly limits the tumors ability to grow and metastasize. Antiangiogenesis is the new “buzz” word in the pharmaceutical industry, with several biotech type drugs in clinical trial. These new drugs are designed to inhibit the growth factors which promote blood vessel growth. They are obscenely expensive. Almost ignored are agents from conventional medicine, as thalidomide, cox-2 inhibitors, IFN-alpha and IL-12.  Completely ignored are over a dozen natural and alternative products which are active because they block blood vessel growth. The more interesting are curcumin, genestein, quercetin and silymarin. IRF utilizes these and others. The most promising new agent for antiangiogenesis is tetrathiomolybdate.

2. Damage to the immune system can only be determined by immune blood panels, some highly specialized. Agents which have utility in immune restoration and cancer treatment are several homeopathics, intravenous ascorbic acid with vitamin-mineral formulations, selected alternative products and certain cytokines.

3. Some causes of immune damage which renders the patient susceptible to cancer are chronic viral infections (Epstein-Barr, cytomegalovirus, and others), chronic yeast, parasitic infections and living a high stress lifestyle. One of the reasons chronic stressful living (high tension, anxiety, fear, and worry) may lead to cancer is it causes our body to produce an overload of cortisol and cortisol suppresses the immune system. If we are chronically stressed, we are constantly suppressing our immune system. To these we must add heavy metal toxicity (arsenic, lead and, mercury) and the ever present pesticides and organic industrial pollutants. The processes of chelation and detoxification can reduce some of these factors. It is critical that these underlying problems be corrected to avoid a repeat of the conditions which allowed the original tumor to become established. We feel that it is a failure to address this problem that is a major cause of disease recurrence.

4. Contra-suppression of the cancer means the blocking of the tumors ability to suppress the immune system. Thus, actions which hinder immune attack on the tumor are reduced. Most tumors cause immune suppression by inducing the production of suppressor T-cells, blocking macrophage activity by producing prostaglandin, and other mechanisms. There are conventional medications which can induce this contra suppression.

5. Immune stimulation can elicit an immune attack on the cancer similar to a tissue transplant rejection (tumor rejection) by increased production of natural killer cells and tumor specific T-cells. While there are many agents to accomplish this activity, we feel the best are certain cytokines (interleukins and interferon), cancer vaccines, and transfer factor.

[Note: true transfer factor is obtained from blood or spleen, so called colostrum derived transfer factor has never been shown to have such activity. Marketers of this type product claim the data from true transfer factor applies to their product with all evidence exactly opposite.]

6. Most patients come to our clinics following a failed conventional program, or have suffered a relapse of the disease. Immunotherapy for cancer is successful in early disease but also offers the possibility of reversing or halting later stage disease. Late stage patients are physically unable to respond adequately to some therapies, and the cancer may be too established and widespread for elimination. Where tumors can be slowed through antiangiogenesis, to allow for more time for the therapeutic cancer treatments to be effective. We always have the goal of tumor reduction and remission, however, in some cases this is impossible and we can only hope for an extension of quality of life.

7. Life style and dietary changes are part of the Immune Recovery Centers' program and each patient is presented an outline for future efforts and goals. To assist with these goals, the patient is provided with a maintenance program including dietary supplements and a pharmaceutical regimen.