According to the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA), cancer only has a 40% survival rate in this country. This is a general statistic for all cancers. The statistics for Stage 3 – 4 cancer survival is less than 4% on chemotherapy for solid tumours worldwide. In addition, therapy is expensive and comes with serious side effects. There are two possible reasons why more than 72 million patients in the USA (2005) used complementary and alternative medicine therapies for cancer and 91% implemented at least one form of CAM in addition to conventional cancer treatment. Overall, at least 30% used CAM therapies.
Many people use those two terms – complementary and alternative – as if they mean the same thing. They are, however, very different, and it’s important to understand the difference between them.
Cancer Research UK defines them thus:
- A complementary therapy is one you use alongside your conventional medical treatment. It may help you to feel better and cope better with your cancer and treatment.
- An alternative therapy is generally used instead of conventional medical treatment.
There is another form of treatment called integrative medical treatment which is the fastest growing discipline of treatment internationally. Integrative physicians use the best of conventional and complementary or alternative medicine to treat cancer. This mode of treatment is more effective than all other forms of treatment.
Conventional cancer treatments, such as radiotherapy and chemotherapy, have had to, by law, undergo strict and thorough testing to prove that they work. Alternative cancer treatments are, by definition, those that have not been subjected to scientific tests and are thus largely unproven. However, this is untrue and a misrepresentation of the truth. In reality, there are two forms of alternative cancer treatments. One form which has not been scientifically or empirically verified and a second form of alternative treatment which is supported by scientific and clinical testing and clinical experience, but is not well known, or been taught in the medical schools, or accepted by medical aid or insurance companies. It is usually only a matter of time (sometimes years, sometimes decades) before many of these therapies become accepted by mainstream medicine and then are no longer called ‘alternative cancer treatments’.
Just because conventional medicine doctors do not accept or recognize a certain form of treatment in one country or another, does not mean that it has not been accepted in other countries, for example, Germany, Israel, Latvia, Georgia, Armenia, Mexico, Cuba, Russia, China and Japan.
It is important to note that when choosing a modality of cancer treatment that you do your homework and research. Choose a medical doctor who has knowledge of both conventional medicine and complementary and alternative cancer treatments. These doctors are called integrative medicine physicians. They can refer you to an oncologist as well as inform you about all the other complementary and alternative medicine treatment options which have scientific, research and clinical validation and warn you about the dangers and side effects of all treatment options.
Alternative Cancer Treatments Vs Complementary Treatments
According to the Mayo Clinic, complementary cancer treatments don’t play a direct role in curing your cancer, but they are hugely beneficial in helping you cope with the side effects of conventional treatment for the disease. A good complementary therapist won’t claim that the therapy will cure your cancer. However, symptoms such as fatigue, nausea, vomiting, stress, and insomnia all respond well to complementary therapies. Some of these therapies include:
Many cancer patients report that hypnosis is very helpful in alleviating stress, anxiety and pain. Some patients who have previously had chemotherapy actually experience anticipatory nausea and vomiting when another session is due. Hypnosis could also help prevent this. When performed by a certified therapist, hypnosis is usually completely safe.
Many studies show that massage is highly effective in relieving pain in cancer patients. It can also lessen stress, fatigue and anxiety. However, you should avoid massage if your blood counts are very low, and warn your therapist not to massage close to any tumours, areas where you’ve had radiation treatment, or scars. If you have bone cancer, ask for light, rather than deep, pressure.
Recent studies show that following an exercise programme not only improves your quality of life as a cancer patient, it may also help you live longer. In addition, gentle exercise may help relieve fatigue and stress, and improve your quality of sleep.
Herbal medicine is one of the most popular complementary therapies for cancer, with as many as 60 percent of sufferers using herbal remedies alongside their conventional cancer treatments. They can help you relax, and are also effective in easing anxiety and depression.
There are many other types of complementary therapy, including aromatherapy, acupuncture, yoga and visualisation, for example.
The Challenges of Choosing Alternative Cancer Treatments
- Not knowing where to find the best information.
- Not being able to determine which treatments are valid and which treatments have no scientific or clinic evidence.
- Not knowing which treatments, both conventional (e.g. chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery) and alternative, can be used together, or exclusively, for maximum benefit.
- Not knowing which is the best clinic or doctors to go to who have knowledge of both forms of treatment.
Benefits of Integrative Medicine Cancer Treatment
- Being able to consider all your options, not just one.
- Consulting a doctor(s) who will support you no matter what you choose.
- Giving you the best of conventional and alternative and complementary treatments.
- Having the choice to change from one treatment to another if all else fails.
- Being able to treat you even if medical aids or insurance companies do not pay for the treatment.
More and more patients are choosing Integrative Medicine Cancer Treatment because it is more effective and has less side effects.
What Can ALTMEDCARE Do?
At ALTMEDCARE International Clinic, we use Integrative Medicine in our treatment programmes. We also refer to, and work with, leading medical and complementary and alternative therapy specialists – such as oncological surgeons, oncologists and nutritionists, integrative physicians, healthcare practitioners, naturopaths, psychologists and counsellors – to achieve the best possible outcomes for our patients.
Our Integrative Medicine and Alternative Cancer Treatments include:
- Advanced testing and assessment
- Chemo and radiotherapy support
- Alternative and complementary medicine therapies
- Oncolytic Viro-Immuno Therapy Cancer Treatment