Alternative cancer treatment options
Welcome to the ´home´ page of the UK´s number 1 charity for Alternative Cancer Treatments.
Here we cover more than a dozen ´Alternative cancer therapies´ in areas like virotherapy, dendritic cell vaccines, hyperthermia, photodynamic therapy, intravenous vitamin C, diet therapies, Cyberknife, TTF and more.
No Vested Interests
CANCERactive is a charity with no vested interests - if something has research to support it, we will tell you; if it doesn´t or it is controversial, we will tell you that too. We don´t take sides. We don´t endorse or promote. And certainly no one pays us - we take absolutely no money from anyone providing these treatments! We just bring you objective information, warts and all.
So what is an alternative cancer therapy?
Definition is a big problem area. Skeptics argue "If it has no rigorous clinical trial to support it, then it is an unproven alternative therapy. If it did have solid research, then it would instantly become ´mainstream´."
But life isn´t like that. Indeed, there are ´proven´ and ´unproven´ alternative cancer therapies being used widely in mainstream cancer centres in America and Europe.
Some alternative cancer therapies (like Cyberknife, brachytherapy and Nanoknife) are being used with enthusiasm in mainstream hospitals in the USA and the UK. Other Alternative cancer therapies (like HIFU and prostate cancer; or Optune TTF) do well in research, but that doesn´t get either widely ´accepted´ by the medical profession. Even FDA approval is no guarantee to get a treatment off the ´alternative list´.
The fact is Virotherapy, Dendritic Cell Therapy, most radiotherapy (including new hot subjects like the Cyberknife and Brachytherapy for breast cancer are being increasingly used in hospitals without rigorous Stage III clinical trials behind them.
So, in this section we have decided to list those treatments patients are using as alternatives to the Holy Trinity of surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Whether they choose it themselves, or their doctors recommended it.
Often patients use the word alternative simply to mean an alternative to these three. Sometimes they use the word to denote non-invasive.
Alternative or complementary?
Another problem of definition - the difference in reality is a very fine line. HIFU and localised hyperthermia is clearly an alternative to prostate cancer surgery. Photodynamic Therapy could be used with orthodox medicine, but if it maximises its potential it might replace some of them. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy has research on it as a complement to radiotherapy in reducing side-effects, but no research (despite claims to the opposite) on its use as a direct treatment alternative.
The Inconsistent world of ´Science-based Medicine´
Some of these alternative therapies have good clinical studies to support them. Others don´t. However, research or lack of it doesn´t seem to have much effect on the usage of treatments by hospitals.
So HIFU for prostate cancer and Ablatherm for breast cancer (both forms of localised hyperthermia) have research studies behind them, but are still shunned by UK hospitals. However some ablation is used on kidney cancer with no such clinical trials.
Virotherapy and Dendritic Cell vaccines are nowhere near the finished article, but American cancer centers use them on patients for whom no orthodox therapy has worked. The usage is adopted as part of a phase III clinical trial.
Brachytherapy is suddenly used as a treatment for breast cancer and spreading rapidly in America. But other oncologists point out there is no clinical research to support this leap.
Everyone is excited about the ´Cyberknife´ in UK hospitals - but is there any research to back up the claims that it will reduce tissue damage or that it is safe to use these heavy volumes of radiotherapy?
NICE has even approved Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) for four cancers in the UK, yet it is widely accepted that the active agent is not yet the finished product and only recently have developments with ultrasound and lasers improved effectiveness. A clinical trial with breast cancer has only just started but failure might mean the active agent is simply not good enough..
Finally, there are the old chestnuts that drive skeptics into a frenzy. Like Burzynski and antineoplastons; Intravenous Vitamin C and the Gerson Therapy. Slight difference here - antineoplastons have been accepted by the FDA in America. However there are serious concerns over the only place you can be treated with them - the Burzynski Clinic! The Gerson Therapy and Intravenous Vitamin C still have little definitive clinical research on them and are outcasts.
Then there is a clear issue with research and drugs. While new cancer drugs have to go through hoops and placebo controlled, randomised, clinical trials, many older drugs never did. Children´s cancers are treated with drugs untested on the young according to the MHRA. Cocktails of drugs are handed out to patients and rarely have these mixes been through a single clinical trial. And then there is the move to generic, cheaper copies of drugs. Rarely put through any clinical trial, the FDA even admitted to only checking some three per cent for content and never visiting the factories where they are made in China and elsewhere. What a mess!
So much for evidence-based medicine.
Finally, beware of the costs. Some of these ´new´, ´alternative´ treatments will cost you large sums of money at private clinics unless you are lucky enough to be accepted into an official clinical trial. No one said cancer treatment was cheap.
We believe it is not in your interests to have a charity that ignores or jumps to dismiss major examples of alternative medicine (the ones patients enquire about). But what you do need is honesty. You need someone to describe the treatment and what it is supposed to do, and then give you an honest appraisal of whether there is or isn´t research, and whether there is controversy surrounding the treatment or whether it genuinely has the potential to become one of tomorrow´s new mainstream cancer treatments. That´s what we try to do.
Another thing we want to make clear is that at CANCERactive we do not believe any single entity is a ´cure´ for cancer - not a treatment, a drug, a vitamin or a natural compound.
However, we do believe cancer is curable. Today. And we are not alone in that view. Professors such as expert oncologist Dr Henry Friedman, deputy director of the acclaimed Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at Duke University say clearly on their website “I believe you can be cured. The cancer may be in remission but it can be in remission permanently.”
We believe that the best route to a ´cure´ is to build an Integrative Treatment Programme, using the best of orthodox and complementary therapies. And as you will read, probably 80-90 per cent of the ´alternative´ therapies are really complementary therapies. Most people will use them alongside their orthodox therapies, not instead of.
Here we want to draw your attention to the 2012 American Cancer Society report on complementary therapies which has been endorsed by the top body in America, the NCI. It stated that since 2006 there had been an ´explosion´ in research into complementary therapies, and that there was ´overwhelming evidence´ that complementary therapies such as diet, maintaining a good body weight and partaking in light daily exercise could improve survival times and even prevent a cancer returning.
Is it not more interesting to ensure that you build yourself a multi-disciplined complementary and integrative cancer treatment package as a priority?
Another point concerns ´false hope´. Over the years we have received many press releases from pharmaceutical companies talking of new ´wonder drugs´, or of people being denied ´life saving treatment´ because of insufficient Government funding etc. It is all so ridiculous and sad. Fortunately we are starting to witness oncologists who now honestly tell their patients that Taxol positively affects just 3 per cent of patients. People should apply the same honesty and objectivity to Intravenous Vitamin C. Is it a cancer cure? ´No´. Can it have a positive effect? ´Yes, sometimes´. How many times? ´There´s no quantitative research´.
At least then people with cancer can make more-informed personal choices about their cancer options. When you were diagnosed, you didn´t simultaneously lose your brain power. You are an intelligent person, capable of making positive choices about your own life and your own treatment, providing the information is thorough and honest.
Many of the treatments covered are actually being used today in mainstream hospitals and cancer centres around the world - in a March 2012 icon magazine, The Royal Marsden asked for their Clinical Trials on Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy to be covered, Professor Mike Richards was putting focus in the UK behind PDT, and Professors Mike Brada of the Royal Marsden behind dendritic cell vaccines and virotherapy while Professor Mike Emberton of UCL was talking about HIFU to us. You can read their expert views on this site.
But to repeat: Usage does not equate to research and vice versa - it´s all a bit of a mess, frankly.
All we can say is that contrary to the ´naysayers´ (who are all to often ignorant or with vested interests yet frequently quoted in the media), some of the dozen or so treatments we include in this section have been included in Clinical Trials or are about to be. Hyperthermia and the use of Ablatherm (localised hyperthermia) is now available in UK hospitals after two small scale trials as HIFU (High Intensity Focussed Ultrasound) for kidney and prostate cancer patients, yet only a few years ago it was the subject of derision. NICE has approved PDT for skin, head and neck, lung and pancreatic cancer. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy is being used in the USA as there are clinical trials showing it reduces side-effects during radiotherapy, and can improve the outcome of chemotherapy. In 2012 and 2013 there have been clinical trials in America showing that calorie restriction, fasting and reducing plasma glucose levels improve the success of chemotherapy and radiotherapy - you need to know all this. And we cover it.
This is the world of real alternative cancer treatments. We will tell you about these - and also some of the common ´alternatives´ cancer patients often consider - we believe you need an objective appraisal, warts and all, based on objectivity.
Our aim is simply to bring you objective and detailed information on treatments that may be useful. Nothing more. What you do with the information is your business.
A search for alternatives, borne out of necessity
When my daughter Catherine was diagnosed with her brain tumour and given six months to live, the medical journal, the Lancet, said that the drugs available didn´t work - there was no cure. So we had to find alternatives - alternative cancer treatments or alternative cancer therapies - that just might help her prolong her life. Please be clear. This charity, CANCERactive, did not set out to be ´Alternative´; that was the only viable approach for a young girl with a glioma and a death sentence.
If she were alive today, this section of our web site would, for example, allow me quick and easy access to understand more about denritic cell therapy and/or antineoplastons - two treatments that might be relevant. (I have subsequently found out that Duke University Medical School in the USA were using Dendritic Cell Therapy 10 years ago with brain tumours. The latter, according to a patent proposal made by the US National Cancer Institute, is the only non-toxic treatment proven to ´cure´ cancer. Heady stuff - but is it true?) I really would have liked to have known more about these and others when Catherine was alive.
Many people reading this site don´t want to use toxic therapies and ´modern medicine´ with all the side-effects; or they have been through the mill and none of it worked. We understand.
More Informed Personal Choices
At CANCERactive we aim to present information so that you can make more informed personal choices. This information is already in the public domain, we just bring it all together under one roof so you can have speedy access. What you do with that information is entirely your choice.
Increasing your personal odds of survival
The ultimate goal of any cancer treatment is, ideally, to cure someone of their cancer. However at CANCERactive we think that goal is too much to ask of any single ´treatment´ - be it a drug like Herceptin or Temozolomide, or Vitamin D or any other development. We do not believe, at the moment, that there is any single ´cure´ for all cancers. Fact.
We are not alone in that view. Experts like Dr Henry Friedman of Duke´s Cancer Centre in the USA have said exactly the same, suggesting it is naive to expect any single treatment to cure a cancer.
Perhaps this is why even the drugs companies now talk of ´turning cancer into a manageable, albeit chronic, disease´ like diabetes. The concept of ´cancer cure has given way to cancer management and we have several articles on this website about this change of direction.
But why would you want to settle for a ´one hit´ approach? As we continually state at CANCERactive, we believe cancer is a multi-step process and needs a multi-step treatment programme. Once you start tackling the individual steps of cancer (excesses of oestrogen, inflammation, metastases, blood supply to tumours, for example) it is easier to see how survival might increase significantly to the point of ´cure´. After all, isn´t this what oncologists do with breast cancer when they give drugs to shrink the tumour, surgery to remove it, drugs to block the oestrogen receptors, drugs to stop oestrogen production in the body, and even drugs to stop bone metastases. We don´t think it is surprising that breast cancer orthodox treatment programmes have 5-year success rates of over 80 per cent.
The fact is that even simple ´Natural Compounds´ like medicinal mushrooms, curcumin, omega 3, vitamin D have now quite extensive research studies behind them and, for example, some American Hospitals have even given these to patients as a PART of a multi-component ´Integrative´ treatment package. Why? Because they can do a job; not the whole job, but a part. A whole science, that of Epigenetics, has sprung up around natural compounds that are known to be capable of reversing blockages in genetic expression.
Of course, there will always be cases where Herceptin or Temozolomide does single-handedly cure a cancer patient, but these drugs are not universal cancer cures and nor are they claimed to be.
This section of our website seeks simply to pass on information. What you do with it is your business. And here it is worth expressing a note of caution. Where possible on this website we have mentioned if there is research, evidence or clinical trials on a therapy. But because of financial restrictions, lack of mainstream support, whatever, the very nature of Alternative Cancer Therapy means that it often comes without the rigours of clinical research as a support.
NB. Cancer patients using alternative cancer medicine should check and recheck any proposed course of action and satisfy themselves that the therapy and the proponent really could deliver a benefit. We stress that in all cases, cancer patients should consult with their medical professional before undertaking, or refraining from, any medical action or treatment. We are not liable for the consequences of any action, or lack of action, that is taken by the readers as a result of information contained anywhere in this site.
Since the strict implication of using an alternative is that you will be giving up orthodox treatment, you should not rush into this lightly. It is also extremely likely that your oncologist will be totally against any alternative medicine.
On this web site we simply try to provide information on the options that are available to help people, not just survive longer but to stand a chance of actually curing their cancer. We simply want to help people make more informed choices.
We also rely on accurate feed back from readers. And as we continually state, if you find inaccuracy in what we write and can send us accurate details we will do our best to incorporate those for the benefit of others.
A guide to some Alternative Cancer Treatments
On the left you will see some headings in a rather odd shade of pink. These include the following:
* Diet Therapies: Much promising work has recently appeared in America involving calorie restriction, fasting, a ketogenic diet and hyperthermia, in combination with or without chemotherapy and radiotherapy; we cover it all and clinical trials are planned. Some diet therapies base their work on the claim that over half of all cancers seem to be caused by a poor diet. They try to rectify this. Frankly, in America almost every Doctor who has a blog has a diet therapy! Then there are alternative diet therapies - like those of Dr Gonzalez and Professor Ben Pfeiffer - with limited clinical studies behind them. Others like the contraversial Gerson Therapy really do not. These alternative cancer therapies sometimes focus on pancreatic enzymes, or reducing oestrogen (the female sex hormone and driver of some cancers).
* PDT, or Photodynamic Therapy uses forms of energy like light, lasers and ultrasound to energise an ´agent´ (which might be a chemical or an algae) to produce oxygen - and oxygen kills cancer cells. This treatment can be found in private cancer clinics but also in certain UK and American Hospitals. It is already approved by NICE for 4 cancers in the UK.
* We tell you about cancer clinics and treatment centres like the metabolic therapy of Dr Contreras at The Oasis of Hope where he uses ozone therapy (again to kill cancer cells with oxygen) and a combination of pancreatic enzymes, vitamin B 17 (b 17, or B-17) and Intravenous Vitamin C.
* Then there is an alternative cancer treatment, called Hyperthermia, that is based on the idea heat can kill a cancer cell. Hyperthermia treatment is used to kill the cancer; the heating may be by electrodes (as in the Karolinska´s work on Breast cancer) or by a high intensity version of Ultrasound (HIFU). Again, you can find hyperthermia, ablatherm and HIFU at private clinics in the USA and Europe, but increasingly in mainstream hospitals.
* Then there are new cancer treatments which seek to boost your immune system to kick out the cancer. Elsewhere on the site we cover Interferon, Interleukin and herbs such as astragalus. But in this Alternative Cancer Treatments section we look at ´Dendritic Cell Therapy´. Again, you can go to a private clinic, but hospitals (particularly in the USA) are getting more involved. Dendritic Cells are a part of your immune system that recognise rogue cells and help ´present´ them to the attack division of your immune defence. Dendritic Cell Vaccines are made from your own cancer.
* Then there are viruses that can uniquely attack just cancer cells leaving healthy cells unharmed. The use of viruses to kill cancer is call ´Virotherapy´; the modified viruses are call oncolytic viruses. We even have an article from MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas on their successes to date.
* We could mention many more here that seem interesting to readers - like Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, DCA, or even cannabis, where most of the cannabinoids that have powerful actions are not hallucinatory or addictive (there are over 150 PubMed research studies on cannabis!) - you will see more potential treatments if you use the drop down boxes above this article at the top of the page. One controlling principal is that there are a number of expert alternative health practitioners trying to find non-invasive alternative therapies and an alternative ´cure´ for cancer. Usually this quest starts from the essence of the Hippocratic Oath: Thou shall do no harm but sadly, just as with the Pharmaceutical Industry, profit is a factor that does sometimes clouds the issue.
Often there is a regional bias. HIFU was used in 60 or more European cancer centres before the UK authorities even felt the urge to test it. Mistletoe therapy was reasonably well accepted in Germany. Now it is gaining acceptance in American as a complementary therapy during chemo and radiotherapy. Sadly, it is all to easy to conclude that, too often, the UK Health Authorities and cancer bodies have a myopic, not-invented-here attitude. We have had cancer patients write to us telling us that their oncologist ´would not even discuss complementary therapies´ - ´He was frightened of being struck off´.
To repeat: Our aim is not to ´promote´ any therapy, merely to inform. We do not endorse or support any alternative treatment save that we championed Localised Hyperthermia for prostate and breast cancer. We still do.
And when the best of orthodox is combined with the best of complementary therapies and alternative treatments, you could well be on your way to building an effective holistic cancer therapy. For more information on how to build your own holistic cancer plan, read the article on our unique information-based ACTIVE8 Programme by clicking here.
At last - the definitive, research-based book on how to build a diet to help beat cancer. Click here to read about it.