The Answers

Primum non nocere. The Latin for “First, do no harm.”

It is a principal precept of ethics taught in medical school. It reminds health care providers that they must consider the possible harm that any intervention might do.

However, merely avoiding harm does not meet the challenges of promoting positive actions to improve health, cure disease, and alleviate suffering, especially when treating cancer. This is why an integrative approach to cancer care is fundamental. In addition to a cautious and judicious use of pharmaceuticals, integrative physicians work to balance, regulate, and rebuild the immune system and address the nutritional and environmental contributions to cancer, as well as the emotional, psychological, and spiritual roots of cancer.

If you have just been diagnosed with cancer, chances are you are afraid for your life. Perhaps you remember a series of articles a few years ago saying we’ve “lost the war on cancer” that was declared by President Richard Nixon some 40 years ago. As the New York Times pointed out, the medical establishment is battling a disease that still faces grim odds:

“Since the war on cancer began, the National Cancer Institute, the federal government’s main cancer research entity, with 4,000 employees, has alone spent $105 billion. And other government agencies, universities, drug companies and philanthropies have chipped in uncounted billions more. Yet the death rate for cancer, adjusted for the size and age of the population, dropped only 5 percent from 1950 to 2005. In contrast, the death rate for heart disease dropped 64 percent in that time, and for flu and pneumonia, it fell 58 percent.”[1]

The IOICP contends that the outcomes have not changed much because the mainstream approach to cancer has not changed much. We “fight” cancer with the familiar three-pronged attack of surgery, and heavy duty chemotherapy and radiation.

IOICP is working to change the paradigm of treatment

We believe the odds for long-term survival can be greatly improved. The new paradigm is called integrative oncology. What is the difference? Whereas the mainstream approach tries to kill the cancer faster than the treatment kills the patient, integrative oncology looks to defeat the cancer, yet create a person who is stronger and healthier than before the cancer was diagnosed.

You could say the key difference between the two paradigms is the way they view the immune system. All doctors agree that fundamentally, cancer is a failure of the immune system. But not all give consideration to healing the immune system as a part of cancer therapy.

Conventional surgery/chemo/radiation leaves the immune system pretty battered. We know that surgeries can cause metastases down the road. Chemo and radiation kill good cells along with the bad, and they kill the P53 tumor-suppressor gene. This is why so many people experience a recurrence of cancer, often between years six and 11 years, and this is why the government statistics measure “survival rates” after just five years.

The integrative approach

An integrative approach looks at more effective ways to rid the body of cancer while healing the entire person. A simple integrative approach might look something like this:

  • Use of targeted complementary therapies such as intravenous vitamin C and ozone therapies, which have been proven to kill cancer cells, so there can be less reliance on chemo and a stronger defense against infections.
  • Use of Insulin Potentiated Therapy to target a low dose of chemo to cancer cells, largely by-passing healthy cells.
  • Use of glutathione, polyMVA®, and other detoxifying agents to help sweep out the cellular debris present when a tumor is successfully shrinking.
  • Use of nutrients and homeopathic remedies to help support the liver which has the all-important job of detoxification and immune support during treatment.
  • Recognition that cancer usually takes hold in a body depleted of nutrients so the use of dietary supplements to replenish vitamins, minerals, and amino acids are recommended. So too is dietary counseling.
  • Recognition that cancer often has emotional, psychological, and spiritual components; addressing suppressed events, emotions, and issues can be an immense help in overcoming cancer long-term.
  • Recognition that we have, in large part the cure for cancer right now. Various studies, including the 2010 President’s Cancer Panel[2], have said cancer is an environmental disease. Education about what carcinogens are in our midst and how to avoid them goes far toward increasing our long-term odds for survival.

Ideally, integrative cancer care involves an agreement between the doctor and the patient as to how to address the cancer in all its facets – especially how to target the diseased tissue, how to heal an overwhelmed immune system, and how to make lifestyle changes to make a body less hospitable to cancer’s return.

Often patients have just a few days between confirmation of their diagnosis and the start of their therapy. In the Foundation’s experience, too often that fast track to treatment robs the patient of time to educate themselves and consider their options. A treatment decision need not be made in a hurry and need not be sold with fear.

The old paradigm was that we “fight” cancer and consider our bodies an enemy to be attacked and vanquished. When you fight, you engage the fight-or-flight syndrome, which weakens the immune system and stimulates cancer. The new paradigm respects our body’s innate healing powers and recognizes that the tumor is just a messenger that there is “dis-ease” in our lives. When looked at this way, the cancer loses power and becomes a learning ground instead of a battleground.

[1] Kolata, Gina. Forty Years’ War: Advances Elusive in the Drive to Cure Cancer. New York Times.April 23, 2009

[2] President’s Cancer Panel. Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk – What We Can Do Now. 2008–2009 Annual Report. April, 2010