This is the second in Dr Brom's comprehensive look at Breast Cancer. See also: Special Report: Breast Cancer
INTEGRATIVE MANAGEMENT OF BREAST CANCER
The following report is a compilation taken from various cancer centres and individual Integrative doctors around the world. The problem, it seems ,in developing a protocol for cancer is that cancer in general, but breast cancer in particular, is not one disease but a word used generically for different, but related diseases.
There are probably three parts to the problem:
1) Prevention of cancer
2) Treatment of cancer
3) Prevention of the cancer returning
The diagnosis of cancer is what I refer to as ‘an end stage diagnosis’. Cancer cannot occur except if there are background conditions for it to occur.
There is even some evidence that cancer is a systemic problem and not a local problem so that treating the local condition only will not solve the problem. I think that even conventional oncologists might agree that in those cases where a small local cancer is removed and secondaries suddenly appear around the body, this may suggest the systemic nature of cancer in those cases.
Integrative doctors on the other hand believe that most cancers arise from multiple dysfunctional problems within the body, which lead eventually to the end point of cancer.
They are therefore always concerned about restoring normal homeostasis, restoring metabolic disorders, and reactivating the defence mechanism. Sending a patient home after surgery for cancer without a serious discussion of lifestyle changes required as well as doing everything necessary to remove the toxic load and optimise health makes no sense to an Integrative doctor, and is not best medical practice.
Paracelsus, one of the great physicians of earlier times (1493-1541) said that ‘it is not the physician who heals, but nature’. In other words it is the body’s natural capacity to heal, and it is this capacity that must be supported. The humeral theory of disease also suggested that ill health had to do much more with flowing processes. It was only much later ie 17th century, when the idea that the seat and cause of disease is in the organ showing pathological changes that the idea of ‘the disease’ began to gain followers, and that what was needed to be done was somehow get rid of the ‘disease’ in order to cure the person.
I think that most Integrative doctors understand that the ‘disease’ is the end point of a malfunctioning system and that this is essentially the problem and needs to be managed, while at the same time the doctor must also pay attention to the ‘disease’.
The fact that the medical profession is suddenly back peddling around early diagnosis in the form of mass screening (mammograms and PSA) says volumes about the fact that even early diagnosis of disease does not seem to make a big difference in the overall prognosis of cancer today. Those cancers that are going to metastasize seem to spread anyway, and those that are not going to spread don’t spread and appear to be cured. Many reported as cured, defined as a patient without evidence of cancer after 5 years, still discover later (after 5 years) that their cancer suddenly makes an appearance again.
While surgery for the local cancer is probably the best treatment that conventional medicine can offer, radiotherapy which is often used before or after surgery may also damage surrounding tissue, leaving the soft tissue in the local area often deprived of the body’s natural resistance. Nevertheless it may be helpful, especially in painful conditions, to shrink the cancer or to treat the cancer in superficial cancers of the skin and subcutaneous tissue, or to help the management and slow the cancer in rapidly growing and aggressive cancers.
According to Dr Issel, only one in every five cancers patients can actually be cured by conventional approaches to cancer treatment. In about 60 of every 100 cancer cases, the disease is so far advanced by the time it is diagnosed that neither surgery nor radiotherapy can offer prospects of cure. These patients are untreatable and given only treatment to attempt to prolong their life, generally using chemotherapy.
In about 40 out of a 100 cases, surgery and radiation seem to offer some prospect of success, but sooner or later 50% of these cases develop local or metastatic spread. At this point even this group is now regarded as incurable and given symptomatic chemotherapy, hormone therapy or radiation. The rest of this group, another 20 are regarded as cured and probably would have survived with only surgical removal of the local cancer.
Integrative management of Breast Cancer
This involves three different groups of women.
1. Prevention of breast cancer
2. Supportive treatment to the conventional management of breast cancer.
3. Integrative management of breast cancer
Prevention of Breast Cancer
It is easy to find studies to support whatever view you choose, so I don’t wish to spend too much time trying to persuade anyone that a healthy lifestyle of a particular kind is going to prevent breast cancer. I think that the reason for such difficulty in trying to sort out what really does make a difference is that breast cancer, or any cancer for that matter, is not a single disease with a simple cause but a complex problem, which involves many different dynamics. A human being is not just a body but a matter-energy-informational being that is multidimensional and extremely complex.