On Tuesday Dr Michael Schachter joined me for Searching for Answers for Cancer Patients, Part III. In part I, Dr Schachter presented a critical analysis of current conventional cancer standard of care practices. In Part II, Dr Schachter discussed his concerns about integrative oncology and its tendency to accept conventional treatment as a given, critiqued various diets for cancer patients, and shared what he believes to be important areas for the cancer clinician and the cancer patient to consider as part of a total program including the incorporation of vitamins D, K2 (MK4), A and iodine into the program.
In Part III Dr Schachter and I discussed ways of improving the results of conventional cancer treatment–specifically the various tests which help clinicians determine which therapies might be most helpful for a particular patient, as examined in Ralph Moss’ book “Customized Cancer Treatment”. We also critiqued Brian Schaefer’s “Salvestrols: Journeys to Wellness”.
Improving the Results of Conventional Cancer Treatment
Tests have been developed to help clinicians determine which chemotherapy agents may be most helpful in a particular patient. The tests are done on samples from the patient. In one type of test, a fresh sample of cancer cells removed from the patient (for example, a portion of the cancer removed from the tumor that has been removed) is sent by overnight mail to a laboratory that conducts tests on the sample. Arrangements for this must be made prior to the surgery by the surgeon contacting the laboratory and finding out how the specimen is to be sent immediately after surgery. Two laboratories that are doing this work are both run by competent and conscientious oncologists. They are:
1) Robert A Nagourney MD/Rational Therapeutics:
2) Larry Weisenthal MD/Cytometric Testing for Cancer:
Ralph Moss, who has written many important books about cancer for patients has authored the book “Customized Cancer Treatment” in which he discusses these tests in detail, using published studies that suggest that using these tests BEFORE beginning a chemotherapy cancer protocol and using the results to help set up a treatment protocol, can vastly improve the results. To do one of these tests requires the cooperation of the surgeon and certain things must be done prior to the surgery.
The test is something like a culture and sensitivity test that is done with bacteria, when an attempt to grow particular isolated bacteria from the patient (as for example from a urine culture). The bacteria are grown in separate dishes in a culture medium. To each of these dishes, a different antibiotic is added. The antibiotic (s) that inhibit the growth the most would be the most likely to be most effective for that particular infection.
Other tests are being used, but are not as well documented as the tests just described. One of these tests, the CTC (Circulating Tumor Cells) requires a blood sample, rather than a surgical specimen. Circulating cancer cells are analyzed to determine likely success in using various chemotherapy agents. Laboratories using this procedure are located in Greece and in Texas, as well as Germany and possibly a few other locations.
One integrative oncologist that claims good results from the Texas Laboratory is James Forsythe MD from Reno, Nevada. He has presented survival statistics for advanced cancer patients and these survival statistics for various advanced cancer patients do compare favorably with published survival studies of advanced cancer patients using only conventional treatments. It is a little difficult to assess just how much the testing in Texas is responsible for these good results, but Dr. Forsythe thinks the testing is helpful.
Another type of test that is sometimes used requires a cell block specimen that can be taken from the surgical specimen that is preserved after the surgery. This does not require a fresh specimen and the specimen can be sent even months after the surgery. In this test, the cancer cells are analyzed for the presence of various enzymes. The enzymes that are found (expressed) in greatest quantity can be targeted with either chemotherapeutic agents or with targeted therapies. Dr Schachter mentioned that he has never used this test, but has been told by a few oncologists that have used it that the computerized explanation that goes with it is not very good. The laboratory that does this type of testing is: Caris Life Sciences: http://www.carislifesciences.com.
More information on these tests can be found in Ralph Moss’s book “Customized Cancer Treatments” and from the websites of these laboratories. Keep in mind that generally these tests are NOT covered by insurance and can cost thousands of dollars. However, sometimes they may be covered if this is negotiated with the insurance company in advance.
For more info on CTC testing, check out Ralph Moss’s book “Customized Cancer Treatment” or explore the following links::
In previous interviews, Dr Schachter and I have discussed Salvestrols, natural substances that may have a role in preventing cancer and helping the body to manage it. In this interview Dr Schachter gave a short summary of the benefits and limitations of Salvestrols. To replay the June 2013 podcast on Salvestrols, Click Here. To replay the December 2012 podcast, Click Here.
Asked if there were any controlled, randomized trials carried out to prove that Salvestrols worked, Dr Schachter responded:
“No, the developers concluded that for many reasons, it would be best to make Salvestrols available as a nutritional supplement since they were natural substances and not synthetic drugs. If they had taken the path of trying to market these substances as drugs, the onerous process could take 20 years or more and cost millions or even billions of dollars. Instead a few papers were authored, primarily by Brian Schaefer, discussing the experiences of some people with cancer who took Salvestrols. Many of these people seemed to benefit and the author of these articles, Brian Schaefer went on to write a book entitled “Salvestrols: Nature’s Defense Against Cancer”, which we discussed during our previous interviews and which you wrote about on your blog. “
Brian Schaefer has since then authored a second book on Salvestrols titled “Salvestrols: Journeys to Wellness”. Whereas the first book went into some detail about how the Salvestrol theory developed and just had a few brief case histories, this book was primarily based on follow-ups of the patients that Brian presented in his 3 papers published in the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine In 2007, 2010 and 2012. A few of these cases were also discussed briefly in his first book. Dr. Schaefer attempted to analyze the cases and come up with some general principles about people taking Salvestrols. He also discussed in more detail than in the first book tests that are being developed for diagnosing cancer and monitoring the course of treatment.
The developers of Salvestrols are in the process of developing tests for cancer based on the presence of CYP1B1 in the bloodstream or metabolites of Salvestrols when a fixed amount is administered. These tests would be of tremendous value because they may allow for diagnosing the presence of cancer cells in the body long before they would be diagnosed on clinical ground or with scans. When using natural, non-toxic substances and lifestyle changes, the earlier a patient is treated, the better the results will be.
One of the biggest problems with regard to cancer is assessing whether or not a treatment is working. Conventional oncologists often use frequent CT (with or without PET) scans and/or MRI’s with Gadolinium contrast. As we mentioned during a previous interview, these procedures may actually harm the patient and really offer very little when it comes to assessing patients, especially for long-term effects. Diagnostic tests using blood samples seem to me to offer a great potential benefit, but unfortunately, they are not yet ready for prime time.
What are some of the most important principles that Brian Schaefer comes up with for patients taking Salvestrols?
The supposition is that people whose Salvestrol intake is low are probably suffering from a Salvestrol deficiency and that the sooner and more completely this is corrected, the better a person will do. So, here are a few principles suggested by Dr. Schaefer:
- Once there is a demonstrated deficiency of Salvestrols (evidence of cancer or precancerous lesions), the patient should start on sufficient doses of Salvestrols through diet and supplements and if there is a good response, should remain on a program that could include supplements INDEFINITELY. Several of Brian’s cases got into trouble when the patient was told by his physician that “he/she was cancer-free”. There is no such thing. When patients seem to have a good outcome in terms of natural cancer treatments, are told they are cancer-free and go back to old habits, the chances of a cancer recurrence is very high.
- Use of Salvestrols should also be accompanied by healthy changes in lifestyle with sufficient rest and sleep, exercise, a healthy diet and improved response to stressful situations.
- Attempts should be made to make sure that nutrients that are necessary for optimal response to Salvestrols are present, including biotin, vitamin C, niacin or niacinamide, magnesium and selenium.
What are the limitations of Brian Schaefer’s latest book?
There are several limitations to Brian’s book and I am sure he would be the first to acknowledge them. Brian had few if any medical records available to him. Reports are based on what patients told him that doctors told them. Here are some specific weaknesses of the book:
- In many of the cases, patient received other treatments in addition to Salvestrols. This was a particularly important criticism for all of the prostate cancer patients discussed, as treatments, such as the blockage or diminution of testosterone (androgen), can frequently cause a lowering of PSA and sometimes dramatic clinical effects without Salvestrols.
- Follow-up was incomplete in some cases. Here I think particularly of the breast cancer patient in her 30’s. She had a dramatic response to Salvestrols and appeared to be doing very well after stopping chemotherapy. However, when the family was contacted, it was learned that she had died. No information was available as to how this occurred, except that Dr. Schaefer was able to find out that this patient stopped taking Salvestrols.
- Knowledge about the long-term effects of Salvestrols was unclear in several of the cases because they stopped taking them. One case that comes to mind is the man with lung cancer who appeared to have a dramatic effect to Salvestrols in a relatively short period of time after at first being told that he was inoperable. He developed a recurrence of his lung cancer 5 years later, after being off Salvestrols for several years. Because of circumstances, he decided to do conventional treatment rather than Salvestrols when the cancer recurred.
- We really don’t get much of a chance to see how well the Salvestrols help when patients have been harmed by the negative effects of conventional treatment (radiation and chemotherapy).
- My own personal experience is clearly that Salvestrols are not a panacea in any sense of the word but should be considered an important element for some patients.
- My sense is that both of Brian Schaefer’s books are worth-while reading, especially for anyone trying to understand and/or deal with cancer.
Replay Parts I, II and III via the following links or via iHeart RadioTalk under the heading Spreakers or Health.
Dr Michael Schachter: Searching for Answers for Cancer Patients, Part I:
December 10th, 2013– http://hipcast.com/podcast/H1tlrkJs
Dr Michael Schachter: Searching for Answers for Cancer Patients, Part II:
January 21st, 2014– http://hipcast.com/podcast/HZ2hF9js
Dr Michael Schachter: Searching for Answers for Cancer Patients, Part III:
February 11th, 2014– http://hipcast.com/podcast/HBxnqhps
Dr Michael Schachter: Searching for Answers for Cancer Patients, Part IV--the Wrap Up
March 25th, 2014– http://hipcast.com/podcast/HVNGyq2s
To read the summary of Part I, Click Here
To read the summary of Part II, Click Here
~~If you don’t know your options, you don’t have any~~
MEDICAL DISCLAIMER: Reading the information in this post does not constitute a physician-patient relationship. The information included in this post is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult with your healthcare provider regarding a medical condition or any treatments.
Dr. Michael B. Schachter MD, CNS, FACAM is a magna cum laude graduate of Columbia College and Columbia P&S Medical School in NYC. He is also a Board Certified Psychiatrist and a Certified Nutrition Specialist. Dr. Schachter has been involved with nutritional and integrative health care for 35 years. A leader in alternative cancer therapies, EDTA chelation and orthomolecular psychiatry, he is a past president of the American College of Advancement in Medicine (ACAM). He has authored numerous articles and was a major contributor to the large chapter about him in Burton Goldberg’s classic “Alternative Medicine Definitive Guide to Cancer”. His published 2010 paper “Integrative Oncology for Clinicians and Cancer Patients” helps to guide patients in developing a cancer treatment program. His latest article published in 2013 entitled “Integrating Nutrition and Selected Controversial Nutritional Supplements into a Cancer Treatment” is an abridged and updated version of his 2010 article. In 2010, Dr. Schachter received the Humanitarian Award from the Cancer Control Society in California. He has a special interest in the role of iodine in health and disease. Dr. Schachter is the director of the Schachter Center for Complementary Medicine in Suffern, NY.
More information about Dr. Schachter and the Center are available at the website: www.schachtercenter.com. Many articles by Dr Schachter can be accessed from this site, including the two articles mentioned above.
Elyn Jacobs is a breast cancer survivor, professional cancer strategist, speaker, and the Executive Director for the Emerald Heart Cancer Foundation. Elyn empowers women to choose the path for treatment that best fits their own individual needs. She is passionate about helping others move forward into a life of health and well-being. Elyn has been featured on CNN Money, Breast Cancer Answers, Courage and Grace, and Talk About Health, and has written for the Pink Paper, Breast Cancer Wellness, Integrative Oncology Essentials, Surviving Beautifully, Body Local and more, and writes the Options for Life column for the Natural Healing-Natural Wellness Newsletter. Elyn hosts the Survive and Live Well Radio Show on the Cancer Support Network. She lives in New York with her husband and two young boys. https://elynjacobs.wordpress.com/about/
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