Cancer & Integrative Medicine
FWSI provides a science-based approach combining conventional training with expertise in functional and integrative health care to people affected by cancer.
Many principles of integrative medicine can be successfully applied to helping people affected by cancer. Functional medicine therapies can be used to support and strengthen the overall health of cancer patients. Therapies may enhance general immune function, aid in reducing symptoms such as pain, nausea, and anxiety, help with detoxification, and more.
Directing and integrating complementary cancer care is not easy. Even if various people have been given the same cancer diagnosis, the biology of each person is unique and their cancer represents an individual disease that will respond differently to therapies. For example, certain supplements are clearly contraindicated. Some are acceptable at certain times and not others. The route and time of delivery are also very important, as well as the coordination with standard therapy.
We provide this type of care.
The New England Journal of Medicine called the war on cancer “a dismal failure” in May 1997. Progress has been made since then in conventional oncology but there is still a long road ahead.
FWSI recommends that people affected by cancer keep in mind the following points when evaluating and using complementary cancer care.
- No treatment, either conventional or alternative, can offer a guaranteed cure for cancer, even if it has been tested on large populations of patients in scientific studies.
- To date, most “alternative” treatments have not been adequately tested to make any definitive claims. Instituting research and funding of non-toxic and non-patentable cancer treatments takes years at least. Unfortunately, many people do not have these years to wait for definitive claims.
Integrative Cancer Protocol Objectives
FWSI believes a cancer protocol must be comprehensive and focus on the following components.
- Cytotoxic (kills cancer cells directly)
- Apoptotic (causes cancer cell suicide)
- Viricidal (kills viruses preying on cancer patients)
- Immune System Improving
- Detoxification Providing including heavy metals
- Dietary Counseling and Lifestyle Coaching for factors specific to cancer
- Specific guidance for vitamins, supplements, juicing, “superfoods”
One goal of biochemical support programs is to indirectly help cancer cells to commit “suicide” (also known as apoptosis).
This process must be done by avoiding damage to healthy tissues and concurrently trying to strengthen the body as much as possible.
FWSI Steps & Recommendations
- Construct a Logical And Methodical Plan For Assessing Treatment Options
FWSI reviews what has been recommended and done so far. There is no magic silver bullet. Quick and rapid decisions can happen but are usually unnecessary. We encourage second and third opinions. We search all treatment options and identify an individualized integrated approach that must include immune modulation and immune system care besides direct cancer killing therapies.
- Encourage You to Identify A Patient Advocate To Help Evaluate Treatment Choices
Patients and patient families sometimes cannot evaluate the facts of treatment modalities from all directions with emotional detachment. Non-family member advocates and patient advocate professionals should be considered.
- Encourage Standard Oncology Assessment And Treatment Recommendations
FWSI encourages oncology assessment and cooperation with oncologists. We believe in thoroughly evaluating the risks and benefits of conventional treatments, including the impact of chemotherapy on quality of life and the immune system. People affected by cancer may wish to request information about 1, 3, and 5-year survival rates. Some cancers are very responsive to chemotherapy, including Hodgkins lymphomas, childhood leukemias, hormone blocking in prostate cancer, CML, and others.
- Engage in Sequential Exploration Of Biological Markers
Cancers have signature substances in the blood, or markers, that can be useful to follow treatment results and for long-term surveillance. These are not always present, and not always accurate, yet can be very helpful to plot individual treatment response. FWSI believes in checking these markers in all our patients as much as possible in each individual case.
- Review All Radiographic Studies Possible And Collect Reports
FWSI reviews CT scans, PET scans, MRIs, bone scans, liver scans, brain scans, and others. Many of these tests are included in standard cancer care. Patients can be surgical candidates as a result of absence of metastatic spread.
- Analyze the Role of PET SCAN in your Particular Situation
FWSI frequently encourages use of this very important test in cancer patients. CT scans are sometimes not precise enough to detect all tumors. Furthermore, they cannot tell whether a tumor is dead or alive. PET/CT establishes a baseline of a patient’s tumor activity and anatomy. This test helps judge the success of therapy at follow up. PET/CT uses radioactive labeled glucose injected called FDG. Cancer feeds voraciously on sugar (hypermetabolic tissue uptake of glucose), and therefore brings in the sugar, which allows the cancer to be imaged.
Cancer Statistics & YOU
We understand that people affected by cancer often give a lot of power to cancer statistics. FWSI would like to emphasize that statistics can certainly help show trends, but they can never predict the fate of a single individual.
Since 100 percent of patients with cancer do not die from it, we approach the individual patient with the question, “Why couldn’t you be one of the ones who make it?”
FWSI believes that if cancer is thought of as a “bad weed,” then there should be as much attention paid to gardening and changing the soil (the patient’s patho-physiology and overall internal terrain) as there is to “weed-whacking” (surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation).
How do we help people change their internal terrain i.e. their “soil”?
FWSI evaluates each individual and develops a strategy through collecting information about various targets and health related components, including some of the following:
- Cancer Serum Markers
- Immune Cell Types
- Circulating cancer cells when possible
- Unfavorable Hormonal Metabolites
- Chronic Inflammation
- Sugar Metabolism
- Environmental Toxicities
- Mind-Body Techniques
As with all of our patients, we treat people, not diseases. We have this foremost in mind when working with cancer patients. We know that the way a person’s cancer reacts to its environment, such as with foods and pharmaceuticals, differs from one to another even if the cancer has the same name. We work as detectives following clues and collecting scientific information. We analyze this data to understand your body and develop a customized health care strategy.
Our approach works to complement and enhance mainstream therapies. In conventional cancer treatment, the severe toxicity of the therapy kills the cancer cells directly. Unfortunately, especially in elderly people, the sum toxicity to all body tissues can be devastating as widely discussed in the medical literature and media. In our experience, rebuilding the patient’s biochemical performance brings about better health and sometimes synergistic effects with the standard treatments that can become less toxic and more effective.
Description of Protocol Components
Protocols are very elaborate and individualized as much as possible for the type of cancer and the particular patient.
- Intravenous Therapies
- Oral Therapies such as:
- Increasing Natural Killer (NK) cell activity to help destroy wandering cancer cells
- Decreasing VEGF, a factor in the blood that supports the formation of new blood vessels and cancer growth
- Decreasing COX2 activity with natural COX2 inhibitors to block the formation of new blood vessels and cancer growth
- Improving essential fatty acid composition to help silence cancer genes
- Optimizing Methylation processes to help silence cancer genes
- Opposing opiate receptor activity in cancer growth with low dose Naltrexone
Specifics of the intravenous and oral protocols adapted to each single patient’s own situation are provided by the doctor, and may enhance the efficacy of standard and experimental cancer therapies as well as decrease their toxicity.
- Dietary Changes
We cannot stress enough our belief that cancer treatment success is linked to the appropriate diet. At FWSI, we evaluate you as an individual and provide clear, science-based instructions on eating to improve your health and weaken your cancer if possible. We advise eating “living foods” vs processed “dead” foods. Please also refer to Dr. Bazzan’s article ” Diet and Nutrition in Cancer Survivorship and Palliative Care”. Other strongly suggested readings are The China Study by T. Colin Campbell, PhD and Living foods for optimum health by Brian Clement. These books clearly explain the differences between “living” and “dead” foods. It is always rewarding to see what happens to our patients when they start to eat this way.
If you are undergoing chemotherapy you might be interested to know that there is scientific evidence that fasting during chemotherapy might help the chemotherapy do more damage to cancer and you have less side effects from it.
People should know how important exercise is especially during chemotherapy. The old idea of resting “because you need it and you are sick” is revealing itself incorrect. It seems that the more people exercise the better they do. So our recommendation is that people should at least walk half an hour a day if possible.
Nourishing the spirit and the psyche are important parts of the functional medicine approach. Meditation, spiritual practice, prayer, introspection, and creative expression are some of the paths to experience a greater sense of connection and a favorably changing biology.
Common Treatment Events
Patients may feel worse before feeling better.
- Herxheimer-like reactions that feature feeling unwell when the cancer and or other pathogens (nasties) are dying.
- Effects from pain medication, anti-inflammatories, and/or narcotics.
- Possible gastro-intestinal disturbances due to oral protocol components. The oral part of this protocol brings about marked changes in physiology. Negotiating these changes needs close cooperation with the treating teams.
We suggest that patients look for “the turn.” It heralds the response that you and the doctor are working towards.
Unsatisfactory clinical improvement requires a mid-course correction as follows.
- Reassess biological markers
- Reevaluate strategic issues
- Another consult with patients to discuss additional treatment options
Fourth Week Consult
- Assess overall state of health and disease
- Arrange for appointments to repeat markers, blood tests, and PET scans
- Assess oral supplement status
- If appropriate, surgical consult to discuss potential excision of lesion
- Depending upon improvements, reduce intravenous protocol, and continue aggressive oral protocol
- Continually assess the effectiveness of the oral protocol component
- IV access remains active
Three Possible Outcomes and Options
At the Marcus Institute we will walk the path with you step by step as you negotiate your outcomes and reassess options at crossroads.
A –Absence of all tumor activity
A surgical consult may be appropriate to eradicate all dead tumor that is left and surgically reachable.
B –Partial tumor eradication
An additional 30-day integrative aggressive protocol may be necessary.
C –Tumor progression
New strategy sessions with all treatment teams may be appropriate for new ways to attack the cancer.
IMPORTANT NOTE: We cannot recommend strongly enough that each patient is best served by developing good relationships with their oncologists, cancer surgeons, and primary physicians. At the Marcus Institute, we work with oncologists and have expertise in the application of a range of supportive complementary/integrative/collaborative therapies that may benefit cancer patients. The value of the integrative medicine approach is to allow integration of modalities taking only one side—that of the patient.