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Can Surgery Spread Cancer?

Can Surgery, and even biopsy, spread cancer?

This article looks at the question, ´Can Surgery spread cancer?´ The answer is clearly, ´Yes´. But there are suggestions in this article on ways to minimise the risk and any potential damage. Having the right diet for surgery, taking certain supplements and even taking an antihistamine drug like CimetidineDesloratadine or Loratadine can reduce the risk of spread and increase survival. (Chris Woollams. CANCERactive) 

Prepare yourself for Surgery

Two thirds of cancer patients have surgery. But over the last 10 years a debate is heating up over whether this supposedly life-saving, orthodox medical approach to cancer is actually making matters worse. Cancer surgery may increase the metastases AND growth rate of cancer in the body.

The truth is that this is not a new debate. As long ago as 1995 The Lancet printed an article about whether prostate cancer surgery could spread the disease. Another talked of how prostate biopsy could also cause metastases.

At the risk of being dubbed alarmist (as I was when I repeated the Lancet´s concerns over the dangers of radiotherapy causing healthy tissue damage), in the interests of patients contemplating surgery (16,000 people next month in the UK alone), we should at least try to clear the matter up!

Biopsies and surgery can and do spread cancer cells

For a long time there have been rumblings about the possible dangers of cancer spread when having biopsies, for example, in breast cancer or prostate cancer. The issue is called seeding. Namely that when a needle is used up to 15 times to take samples across an area, it might hit an area of cancer on probe 3 and pass just a few cells on when probing all the following areas.

Just such an article appeared in the BMJ (July 2004) quoting a report from Australian surgeons whose stated view was that continuing liver biopsies gave rise to a serious risk of seeding and stating that such biopsy was useless and dangerous.

No doubt your surgeon will have his own views but be aware that there have been several studies over the years suggesting that fine needles can pick up cancer cells from one location and transport them to another, non-cancerous, one. Also, in the case of prostate cancer the capsule around the gland is punctured when having a biopsy. 

I know of someone who had a gist, a balloon like growth extending out from his stomach wall. The surgeon said it was an easy operation he would give it to a junior, who would first conduct a biopsy. The patient went to America for a second opinion, to a surgeon who specialises in gists. He said that to touch it with a biopsy needle was to risk it flaring up and cancer cells loosening off it. Gists were extremely dangerous when attacked and in the operation the surgeon had to be sure to get every last cancer cell out.

And that is one of the biggest issues - removing every cancer cell. You will here breast cancer surgeons talking about ´getting good margins´ - cutting around the cancer so it can be completely removed. If they didn´t get good margins, it means they cut through an area of cancer cells, releasing them into the blood and lymph systems.

Surgery can make cancers grow faster

  • Life Extension Magazine in America reported as early as 1985 that cancer surgery increased the risk of metastases. By 2001 the British Journal of Cancer contained an article stating that removal of the primary tumour may result in sudden acceleration of the metastatic process. By 2009 in the Annals of Surgery, researchers reported that cancer surgery itself can create an environment in the body that greatly lessens the obstacles to metastases. This corroborates observations that relatively soon after surgery, metastatic lesions quickly emerge that were not necessarily evident prior to the surgical procedure - Bill Fallon, Life Extension magazine.
  • In icon we covered Italian Breast cancer research by Dr Romano Demicheli, which looked at women having mastectomies at the Milan Cancer Institute. The conclusion made was that some women relapsed quickly and the surgery had created biochemical changes actually promoting cancer cell and blood supply growth, and increasing tumour growth rates.

Ways surgery encourages cancer spread

Apart from physically disturbing and releasing cancer cells around the body, other cancer-proliferating activities happen with surgery. 

  • Surgery involves fundamental biochemical changes in the body, from the effects of stress to inflammatory response to the production of healing hormones. On top of that, Doctors give you drugs at the same time - anaesthetics and antibiotics. You simply cannot think of surgery as an isolated incident in the body.
  • Anyway, your cancer may well not be an isolated island in your body. Far more likely is that the conditions of cancer exist all over your body. Research covered in icon Cancer Watch have shown that cancers produce secondary pre-cancer cells much earlier than previously thought. These rogue cells pass round the body to other tissues where they and their oncogenes lie dormant. 
  • Research has also shown that tumours actually produce chemicals that stop vascular growth to these dormant cancer cells lying in other parts of the body. In other words the cancer cells need a blood supply in order to grow into a tumour but the main primary tumour actually stops rivals forming. Remove the primary and the others can come out to play. A great deal of research has focused on Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF). You can suppress VEGF with bioactive natural compounds like curcumin, green tea (EGCG), resveratrol, milk thistle and genistein (in soy and red clover). 
  • Indeed, the actual healing process from any surgery see an increase in growth hormone levels in the body. Major surgery will produce a large growth hormone response. (This is one reason why I believe strongly that people with cancer should not touch one drop of mass market cows´ dairy. Because of the way the cows are kept, it increases blood levels of IGF-1, a growth hormone). Surgeons know this and have been trying to minimise surgery - for example using more lumpectomies or key hole surgery.
  • Surgery can cause localised inflammation through eicosanoids, short-lived but highly active hormones. Especialy if steroids are used at the same time. Cancer likes inflammation, it encourages its spread. Omega-3 from fish oil, a small aspirin, ginger, garlic, aloe vera, curcumin, and resveratrol can reduce the inflammation in the body. (Vane and others)
  • The antibiotics and drugs administered will damage your microbiome, the crucial bacteria in your gut that control your immune system, and keep pathogens and yeasts in check. Friendly bacteria in your microbiome also produce your B vitamins, vitamin K that protects your liver and short-chain esters that prevent build up of bad triglycerides and inflammatory compounds in the blood stream. We suggest you read our article ´Heal Ur Gut´ with some urgency and take probiotics and B complex during the period of the surgery.
  • The antibiotics and drugs actually reduce plasma levels of vitamin D. Yet it is known that people with cancer and low levels of vitamin D, survive least. Take 5000 IUs per day of vitamin D, at least.
  • Surgery uses anaesthetic., which is also known to reduce the immune system via the gut microbiome. Doctors typically measure the white cell count, but as we continually point out, there are many different types of white cells (T-cells, B-cells, macrophages etc). Research has shown that surgery greatly reduces the numbers of Natural Killer (NK) cells circulating in the blood you will have a much harder job to kill off a cancer cell after surgery. Readers will know that we have always advocated going into surgery with a strong immune system we have suggested a combination of astragalus, cats claw, turmeric, echinacea, total natural vitamin E, zinc, selenium, grape seed extract and natural vitamin C with bioflavenoids. Vitamins D and K have also been shown to help fight cancer cells in research.
  • The drugs and anaesthetic used during surgery, and the stress involved, can make the body more acidic. Cancer tumours are highly acidic. Research from Arizona, Chicago and H. Lee Moffitt has shown that acid conditions in the body increase metastases from tumours and that acidic conditions favour these metastatic cells ´taking hold´ and forming new tumours. But there is much you can do to alkalise your body through diet. Go To: Acid Bodies and Cancer 
Reducing metastases from surgery with antihistamines 

  • Cancer cells´ surfaces are inflamed and ´sticky´. This ´stickyness´ helps them clump together to form new tumours and it seems to help them stick to blood vessels and other organs. This stickiness can be overcome by antihistamines. One such antihistamine, Cimetidine (Tagamet), has several research studies on it with colorectal cancer and one with prostate cancer, which suggested it doubled survival. The use of Cimetidine* before, during and for up to two years after surgery has been shown to reduce metastases and increase survival. There is some concern over it being slightly estrogenic. Research by Swedish scientists on second generation antihistamines like Desloratadine and Loratadine has shown how they reduce metastases and increase survival significantly in women with breast cancer Go To: Antihistamines reduce metastases and increase survival 
The cold fact is that, while drugs increasingly use Clinical Trials to support their benefits, Surgery has no such evidence to support it. In 2009, Norwegian Scientists even went as far as saying that the problem is we just don´t know whether breast cancer is better left alone, after a finding that women having no mammograms in a six year period had less cancers and greater survival rates than those having annual mammograms and subsequent treatment. 

So what´s a boy (or girl) to do?

Prepare yourself. Above I list some natural protectors plus a common drug, Cimetidine, to take well in advance of surgery. It is essential that you follow a Diet for Cancer Surgery including using key supplements like total vitamin E to help healing. As always at CANCERactive, we advocate the use of the colourful Mediterranean Diet or Rainbow Diet.

Next, talk to the surgeon. Over the last ten years surgeons have been trying to minimise surgery damage with keyhole treatments and lumpectomy rather than full scale removal. But there may be alternatives. A surgeon, as with all oncologists, has a legal duty to lay out all the options available to you. His ignorance is no defence in that duty.

So, ask about alternatives. For example as regular readers will know, we have championed HIFU over traditional prostate surgery for newly diagnosed patients. It is already used for some kidney cancers and there are over 60 private clinics offering localised hyperthermia or HIFU in Europe. Furthermore, the Karolinska Institute in Sweden concluded three successful Clinical Trials on the use of Ablation (localised hyperthermia) on breast cancer in 2011. The method used was identical to the new alternative therapy, the Nanoknife IRE.

Perhaps the worst, most irresponsible thing about surgery is that some surgeons tell their patients that the surgery was successful, the tumour is completely removed and they have the ´All Clear´. This leaves some patients asking ´So why have I been prescribed drugs, if no cancer is there?´ And some patients stop taking the drugs! Cancer is an all-over-body disease. No surgeon can possibly say you are ´All Clear´.

People about to have surgery - whether they be cancer patients, or older people having general surgery - would do well to prepare themselves thoroughly, following a careful diet, boosting their gut bacteria and immune systems, taking natural compounds that can reduce cellular inflammation and looking to reduce the conditions of cancer throughout their bodies in advance.
* NB.
Cimetidine (Tagamet) may inhibit the action of anti-coagulent drugs - and so you should always consult your doctor before taking it. 

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