What Is Integrative Cancer Care?
Integrative cancer care is the practice of providing whole-person care by combining conventional treatments for cancer (such as chemotherapy, radiation, surgery) with complementary (naturopathic) therapies that will best serve the needs of the patient based on their diagnosis, prognosis, treatment history and individual preferences. In most cases, naturopathic cancer therapies are best used alongside or in conjunction with conventional treatments for cancer. A naturopathic physician who is well trained in the field of naturopathic oncology can assist patients in making informed decisions for their cancer care.
Cancer is a complex and multi-faceted disease. Evidence demonstrates better outcomes (both short term and long term) are achieved when cancer is treated with a multi-dimensional integrative medical approach that treats the whole person and engages the physical and the mind-body aspects of healing. This evidence has been the basis for the development of many integrative cancer centers in the U.S., such as the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, The Block Center for Integrative Cancer Treatment and The Riordan Clinic.
At Port Moody Health we understand the importance of providing you or your loved one with the best care possible. We believe that comprehensive cancer care should consist of integrative health care practitioners, each with their individual expertise in the areas of oncology – both conventional and naturopathic. With mounting evidence supporting the benefits of integrative medicine, a new cancer paradigm is emerging: one that recognizes the multitude of benefits complementary care has to offer and that honors the principle that in order to truly heal, the whole person – body, mind and spirit – must be optimally engaged in the healing process (1,2,3,4,5,6). At our center, we strive to provide whole-person and patient-centered care in a collaborative effort with your health care team – including your oncologist and MD.
What are Integrative Cancer Therapies?
At Port Moody Health, we offer evidence-based or evidence-informed naturopathic practices supported by clinical research and/or scientific studies. The purpose of naturopathic treatments for cancer and supportive therapies is to serve the individual needs and wishes of the patient and their family with the goal to optimize overall treatment outcome (prevent metastasis, reduce drug resistance, optimize drug therapy, improve survival) and prevent secondary cancer diagnosis and recurrence(7,8,9,10,11,12). In cases of advanced stage or terminal cancer, our treatments are aimed at life extension and providing quality-of-life care.
The evidence supporting the importance of the integrative approach in the treatment for cancer is increasingly in favor of a shift in traditional cancer care provision. In the case of the integrative diet, research by Dr. Keith Block, MD (The Block Center for Integrative Cancer Treatment) demonstrates the role of inflammation in disease initiation and progression(13). Specific dietary and nutritional interventions aimed at reducing inflammation can have a positive impact on cancer risk, outcome and recurrence(14).
Inflammation has long been suspected to contribute to tumor growth. In the last 5 years, research has revealed that oncogenes (cancer genes) actually develop ways to create a pro-inflammatory microenvironment in order to drive the growth and spread of cancer. New research on the use of anti-inflammatory agents – natural agents and prescription drugs – in conjunction with diet, show great promise in the treatment and prevention of cancer(15,16,17,18). A recent study (published in the Journal of International Medicine Research) looked at the anti-tumor and chemo-sensitizing effect of Celecoxib (a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory) in the treatment of advanced colorectal cancer(18). The chemo plus Celecoxib group demonstrated a significantly greater 3-year survival rate and improved quality of life.
Many nutritional compounds – such as antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and botanicals – have demonstrated anti-cancer benefits in several studies, by way of minimizing inflammation and reducing oxidative stress. Some of the key nutritional compounds with extensive research to support their positive role in cancer care include curcumin(19,20,21,22,23,24,25), epigallocatechin-3-gallate(26,27,28,29,30) (a component of green tea), melatonin(31,32,33,34,35,36,37,38,39), alpha lipoic acid(40,41,42,43), vitamin C(44,45,46,47,48,49,50,51,52), injectable mistletoe extracts, vitamin D(53,54,55,56), boswellic acid(57,58), quercetin(59,60,61,62,63), indole-3-carbinol(64,65,66,67,68,69,70) and omega-3 marine oils(71,72,73,74). Correct dosage, delivery, quality and source of these nutrients are important determinants in the outcome of nutrient therapy.
A naturopathic physician with a focus of providing specialized care in naturopathic oncology can help you determine which integrative treatments for cancer are best suited to you in terms of safety and optimization of treatment outcome. Recommendations will vary depending on your diagnosis and course of conventional cancer care.
Why use an Integrative Approach for YOUR Cancer Care?
Conventional treatments for cancer, such as chemotherapy or radiation, are prescribed with the general intent to destroy cancer cells with little to no regard for the internal matrix or environment surrounding the cancer cells (i.e. healthy cells and tissue). Inevitably, conventional therapies weaken the immune system, consequently disabling the body’s natural defense mechanisms, which is one of the main factors increasing the likelihood of secondary diagnosis or cancer recurrence(75,76,77). Evidence-based naturopathic cancer therapies are aimed at treating the whole person with a specific focus on treating the cancer and preventing metastasis (spread) while concurrently supporting and protecting the body’s healing systems – especially the immune system.
There are many ways, with nutritional and mind-body medicine, to strengthen and protect the immune system while simultaneously destroying cancer cells with conventional and/or complementary therapies, without compromising, but enhancing the effects of conventional therapies, in order to engage the body’s own ability to fight cancer, prevent recurrence and improve survival(78,79,80,81,82,83,84,85,86,87,88,89,90).
All cancer treatments offered at our clinic are evidence-based and aimed at reducing tumor burden, strengthening the body’s natural defenses, optimizing the anti-cancer effects of conventional treatment while reducing adverse effects of conventional treatments and ensuring adequate nutritional, mental-emotional and spiritual support.
Can Naturopathic Cancer Treatments Be Used In Combination With Conventional Treatments?
Many naturopathic cancer therapies can be safely combined with chemotherapy, radiation and surgical intervention when, and if, appropriate. When used in conjunction with conventional treatments, natural cancer therapies have been clinically and scientifically proven to enhance the effects of conventional treatment(8,10,11,25,45,57,59,63,93,94), significantly reduce the number and severity of common side effects(7,38,64,65,89,90), improve quality of life, increase survival and reduce the risk of recurrence(10,11,92).
In the case of advanced stage or terminal cancer, conventional treatments are often not the best choice as there is little to no benefit to be gained from chemotherapy and/or radiation, and in fact, in most cases, outcomes and quality of life is significantly comprised by these invasive therapies. However, naturopathic cancer therapies such as diet, intravenous vitamin C, acupuncture and mind-body strategies have been proven to increase longevity and improve quality of life in advanced stage and terminal cancer(24,46,49,95).
Learn more information about early cancer detection tests referred to as the ONCOblot test, or the CTC’s referred to as circulation tumour cell test, and cancer biomarker testing by clicking on the words.
When should I start Naturopathic Cancer Treatments?
If you have a cancer diagnosis, the sooner integrative cancer care is initiated, generally the more favorable the outcome will be. Specific dietary recommendations can, and should be, incorporated immediately. If chemotherapy or radiation is going to be a part of your treatment for cancer, it is ideal to begin nutritional and anti-oxidant support in preparation for conventional treatments at least 2-4 weeks prior, to effectively minimize undesirable side effects.
Whether your goal is to treat an existing cancer or to prevent a first or secondary cancer diagnosis, we perform comprehensive baseline evaluation for assessment and monitoring purposes. This often includes blood work, urine and/or other specialized tests to assess tumor growth and regression, inflammation, nutritional status and toxicity. If you have relevant previous or ongoing tests (blood work, imaging reports), we can obtain these from the BC Cancer Agency or your medical doctor.
We look forward to being a part of your comprehensive, whole person health care. At Port Moody Health, you can be assured that you fill find the warmth and support you are seeking on your journey to creating healthy body, mind and spirit.
For more information or to book an appointment to discuss your treatment for cancer, call to speak to one of our patient care coordinators at (604) 949-0077.
Port Moody Health provides cancer care for patients near and abroad. For information on lodging and extended stay, call 604-949-0077, or click here.
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