I DO NOT ADVOCATE THAT PATIENTS WITH MESOTHELIOMA OR ANY OTHER CANCER REJECT CONVENTIONAL THERAPIES LIKE CHEMOTHERAPY, RADIATION OR SURGERY. I just believe that when these conventional therapies have little to offer that patients should examine all their options.
How often do cancer patients like me decide to reject conventional cancer therapies such as radiation and chemotherapy and use nutritional holistic therapies instead? Probably quite a few, especially when the conventional therapies offer little hope. How often do thee patients actually benefit? I do not know. Obviously it depends on many variables - the type of cancer, the kind of therapies, whether or not the patient was overseen by professional clinicians, etc. I have no doubt that many patients who use alternative therapies get some benefit in their quality of life. There may be lessening of pain or an increase in appetite or energy. But, how many patients actually survive their cancer longer because of alternative therapies and approaches? This is an important question that has never been answered in a comprehensive fashion. No study has been performed. Instead we have anecdotes and case studies. Here are five examples of cancer patients who enjoyed a surprising benefit from alternative approaches. Their stories have been written up as case histories in the medical literature by doctors and researchers.
Fish and Algae Oils Make Sarcoma Nodules Decrease in 78 Year Old Man
This first case is about a 78 year old man with malignant fibrous histiocytoma with multiple lesions in both lungs1. Malignant fibrous histiocytoma (MFH) is the most common soft tissue sarcoma of late adult life. After this patient was diagnosed, "he declined conventional chemotherapy and elected nutritional intervention by increasing intake of omega-3 fatty acids and lowering intake of omega-6 fatty acids." The authors of this case study estimated that this patient consumed 15 grams of the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) per day. According to the doctors, CAT scans and X-rays "revealed remarkably a slow and steady decrease in the size and number of bilateral nodules. He has no apparent side effects from consuming large quantities of fish and algae oils rich in DHA and EPA and he remains asymptomatic."
So here is a 78 year old man who ate "large quantities of fish and algae oils" and made his sarcoma nodules decrease slowly and steadily.
Reishi Mushroom May Have Made Lymphoma Cells Disappear in 47 Year Old Patient
In this case report, a 47-year-old man was diagnosed with a high-grade lymphoma (B-cell lymphoma) by biopsy2. Eleven days later "no evidence was found of large B-cell lymphoma despite thorough sampling." Instead the doctors found immense populations of T cells. T cells are a type of white blood cell that play a key role in our immune system. The doctors questioned the patient as to what we had been doing in the past few days. The patient explained that he had been consuming "megadoses of Ganoderma lucidum." Ganoderma lucidum is a mushroom that also goes by the name of reishi. According to the authors of the case study, "Ganoderma lucidum might have triggered the successful immune reaction."
Chinese Herbs May Have Contributed to Regression of Lung Cancer in 51 Year Old Women
A 51-year-old woman was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the lung3. It was staged T2N2M0. Eight years later she had a "complete regression of her lung carcinoma." According to the researchers that wrote the case study the woman "had been treated with Chinese herbal medicine alone for 4 years. The herbal prescription consisted of nine Chinese medicinal herbs. These herbs have been reported to possess anti-tumor and immune enhancing effects. Therefore, it is suggested that the herbal treatment for this patient might have contributed to the complete regression of her lung carcinoma. Further research on the actions of these herbs is warranted."
Terminal Pancreatic Cancer Patient Recovers with Lipoic Acid, Healthy Lifestyle Program and a Drug
In this case study the authors describe the long-term survival of a patient with pancreatic cancer4. The treatment regimen included:
1) Intravenous alpha-lipoic acid. (Lipoic acid is an organic compound which is an essential cofactor for many enzyme complexes.)
2) Low-dose naltrexone (ALA-N) protocol. (Naltrexone is a drug used primarily in the management of alcohol dependence.)
3) And a healthy lifestyle program.
The authors of the study wrote: "The patient was told by a reputable university oncology center in October 2002 that there was little hope for his survival. Today, January 2006, however, he is back at work, free from symptoms, and without appreciable progression of his malignancy. The integrative protocol described in this article may have the possibility of extending the life of a patient who would be customarily considered to be terminal...Several other patients are on this treatment protocol and appear to be doing well at this time."
Gerson Therapy Benefits 34 Year Old Women with Brain Cancer
The Gerson therapy consists of flooding the body with nutrients from about 20 pounds of organically grown fresh fruits and vegetables on a daily basis.
In 1996 a 34-year old woman was diagnosed with a recurrent anaplastic astrocytoma (an aggressive brain cancer)5. The cancer had returned after radiation therapy. The woman started on the Gerson therapy. A review in June 1997 showed that there was no evidence of any active tumor in the surrounding area of the brain. A review in November 1998 also showed no increase in size. In 1999, the Gerson regimen was scaled down (maintenance phase of the Gerson regimen), and the homeopathic remedy pulsatilla was added. A review in November 2000 showed no increase in size from the previous year. She has since had annual reviews with still no increase in tumor size, although symptoms of headaches and seizures continued throughout. According to the case study, "The patient remains well and stable at present."
These anecdotes or case stories merely whet our appetite that some alternative approaches in some patients may actually be highly effective. But, we know so little. We don't know what happened to their immune systems because they were not tested or monitored. We don't know why these approaches did what they did. It's not because we don't have the technology to answer these questions. It's really because mainstream cancer care is not interested in knowing. No one is testing me to see how or why I have survived so long.
1 Ronald S. Pardini, et al., Nutritional Intervention With Omega-3 Fatty Acids in a Case of Malignant Fibrous Histiocytoma of the Lungs. Nutrition and Cancer, Volume 52, Issue 2 July 2005, pages 121 - 129.
2 Cheuk W, et al., Regression of gastric large B-Cell lymphoma accompanied by a florid lymphoma-like T-cell reaction: immunomodulatory effect of Ganoderma lucidum (Lingzhi)? Int J Surg Pathol. 2007 Apr;15(2):180-6.
3 Liang HL, et al., Regression of squamous cell carcinoma of the lung by Chinese herbal medicine: a case with an 8-year follow-up. Lung Cancer. 2004 Mar;43(3):355-60.
4 Berkson BM, et al., The long-term survival of a patient with pancreatic cancer with metastases to the liver after treatment with the intravenous alpha-lipoic acid/low-dose naltrexone protocol. Integr Cancer Ther. 2006 Mar;5(1):83-9.
5 Molassiotis A and Peat P. Surviving against all odds: analysis of 6 case studies of patients with cancer who followed the Gerson therapy. Integr Cancer Ther. 2007 Mar;6(1):80-8.