Sometimes, when diagnosed with cancer, patients want to treat and heal their whole body instead of just treating the cancer. They want to know why they got cancer and how to find a personalized a program that suits them. When making this choice, it is important to research first, so an informed decision can be made.

Some of the most successful alternative cancer treatments accompany traditional treatment, may be done independently, or used after conventional treatment is completed. It is a personal decision that only the patient can make, and it is best to discuss all options with a doctor who is experienced in using these types of treatments. To help you begin your research, here are some of the most successful alternative cancer treatments and how they work.

Low-dose chemotherapy is a less toxic version of chemotherapy. Sometimes called metronomic chemotherapy, this is a treatment in which a patient is given low dosage, anticancer drugs for a longer period of time than conventional chemotherapy. Currently, many doctors use the strongest drugs available, in an attempt to ensure all cancer cells are killed. These higher dosages sometimes cause severe reactions, such as infections that may lead to death. The lower dose strategies are being used more to minimize these harsh side effects.

The efficacy of low-dose chemotherapy is being studied, and with surprisingly positive results. Research is finding that those who used the less toxic form of chemotherapy experienced significantly less anemia, less ulceration and inflammation of the digestive tract lining, and a higher blood cell count. At the same time, it appeared to be just as effective and conventional treatment. (1)

Vitamin C Therapy is when this vitamin is administered intravenously, in a clinical setting. Vitamin C is a water-soluble nutrient that the human body does not manufacture, so we have to get it through an outside source, like oranges. Vitamin C supplements taken orally have been widely used to combat colds and infections, as well as fight internal inflammation.

But, when given intravenously, high doses work differently than when this vitamin is taken orally. According to at least one study, when stomach digestion is bypassed, Vitamin C breaks down and generates hydrogen peroxide that can damage cancer cells while the healthy cells have the ability to protect themselves. (2)

High dose Vitamin C has been studied for the treatment of cancer since the 1970’s in a collaboration of surgeon Ewan Cameron and Nobel Prize winning chemist, Linus Pauling. It was believed that this treatment would help build the immune system, allowing the patient’s body to naturally fight cancer cells or at least the infections that accompany other cancer treatments. Today, healthcare practitioners throughout the world use this treatment to battle infections and fatigue, as well as various cancers.

More recently, laboratory studies have shown Vitamin C therapy may slow the growth or certain cancers including liver, pancreatic, breast and prostate cancer. It can also ease some side effects of other treatments such as vomiting, pain, fatigue and nausea, thus increasing the patient’s quality of life. 

Hyperthermia is an alternative cancer treatment that uses thermal, or heat therapy to damage and kill cancer cells. It is used by some as a stand-alone treatment and by others as a complementary treatment to conventional methods, such as radiation. It may enhance the efficacy of some cancer drugs and studies show a reduction in tumors when used with other treatments. (3)

Hyperthermia may be applied in a number of ways, for example, local hyperthermia involves applying heat to a small area like a tumor. Tumors below the skin, in or near body cavities like the esophagus or tumors deep within the body can all be treated with this method. The applications of heat may include ultrasound, microwave or radiofrequency.

Regional hyperthermia is a method used to treat larger areas of cancerous tissue, such as the bladder, liver or stomach. Some widespread cancers, like melanoma, may also be treated with this method. The methods might include using an external applicator to apply heat, removing and heating patient’s blood before pumping it back into the affected area, or could involve surgery.

Whole body hyperthermia is a method used to treat cancer that has spread to the entire body. In this case, a chamber much like an incubator may be used. Follow up sessions will check on the patient’s progress and for any problems that may arise.

Hyperbaric Oxygen (HBO) is a treatment in which a patient undergoes a series of sessions in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber for 60 to 90 minutes, for a set number of days. The sessions may last a few weeks, and allow the patient to breathe in more, pure oxygen than what they normally can during typical respiration. 

Once feared that this type of treatment would promote the growth of cancer cells, studies have shown that there is no evidence this is true. In fact, the evidence shows that it can slow or stop the growth of certain cancers, especially with tumors and malignant gliomas.

The most successful alternative cancer treatments can be used as a stand-alone treatment for as a complementary treatment to conventional methods. If you decide to use any alternative method, talk to your doctors to learn more. Don’t be afraid to ask questions involving the doctor and staff training, how long have they been practicing and what is their success level. A cancer diagnosis is frightening, but having some informed control over your treatment can allow you peace of mind that you are doing everything you can to recover.

References:
1 Xie X, Wu Y, Luo Sh, et al. Efficacy and Toxicity of Low-Dose versus Conventional-Dose Chemotherapy for Malignant Tumors: a Meta-Analysis of 6 Randomized Controlled Trials. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2017;18(2):479–484. Published 2017 Feb 1. doi:10.22034/APJCP.2017.18.2.479
2 University of Iowa Health Care. (2017, January 9). Why high-dose vitamin C kills cancer cells: Low levels of catalase enzyme make cancer cells vulnerable to high-dose vitamin C. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 5, 2019 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/01/170109134014.htm
3 Wust P, Hildebrandt B, Sreenivasa G, et al. Hyperthermia in combined treatment of cancer. The Lancet Oncology 2002; 3(8):487–497. [PubMed Abstract]