Cancer is the name given to a collection of related diseases where certain cells begin to divide uncontrollably and invade into surrounding tissues. These cells are called malignant cells.
There are different types of cancers such as carcinomas, leukemias, lymphomas, sarcomas, melanomas and myelomas. Different types of cancers affect different tissues leading to cancers of the breast, lung, colon etc.
While some cancers are inherited, most cancers arise due to various factors. Modifiable risk factors such as smoking, obesity, exogenous hormones, sedentary lifestyle can be improved to prevent cancer.
Treatment of cancer depends on the type of cancer as well as the stage of disease. For early stage prostate cancer, active surveillance strategy is used. Early stage breast cancer can be removed surgically. Chemotheray treatment can be used as the sole therapy or after surgery depending on the stage of the cancer. With cancers such as brain cancer, radiation therapy is often used. With cancers such as prostate or breast cancer, hormone therapy often follows other surgery or chemotherapy.
Conventional therapy is effective in treating cancer but, at the same time, is very invasive. Patients often seek naturopathic care for support.
Naturopathic doctors offer evidence-based natural cancer care. It aims at strengthening the immune system to support the healing power of the body. During conventional cancer treatment, naturopathic care takes an adjunctive role. Our treatment goal is to sustain wellness during aggressive cancer treatment. Aggressive cancer treatment can leave the patient so depleted that treatment has to discontinue early. Therefore, physical well-being of the patient is essential to ensure completion of conventional treatment.
Natural treatment in the form of herbal or nutritional supplement, acupuncture, mind-body therapy and homeopathy help reduce the side-effects of cancer treatment. For example, peripheral neuropathy is one of the side-effects of chemotherapy. Acupuncture and vitamin B6 are very effective in resolving peripheral neuropathy.
Furthermore, with certain conventional treatment therapies, natural treatment can enhance the effectiveness of the treatment improving conventional treatment effect. In a 2003 study, lycopene when used together with Androgen Deprivation Therapy for metastatic cancer achieved a higher percentage of complete PSA response than using Androgen Deprivation Therapy alone.
Fundamentally, naturopathic doctors work on educating patients about the prevention of cancer. Educating patients about carcinogenic foods, smoking and other unhealthy habits helps patient prevent cancer from occurring or recurring.
Diet and lifestyle counseling is especially important in maintaining health while undergoing treatment. Choosing the right nutrients, maintaining weight and appetite is crucial to the success of treatment.