elynjacobs

Posts Tagged ‘Breast cancer patients cancer patients can skip chemo’

Doctors Suggest Less Chemo and Other Harmful Cancer Drugs: My Review

In Alternative Cancer Therapies, Breast Cancer, Cancer, Uncategorized on June 6, 2018 at 10:05 am

The following is my review of the news-blast of the new landmark study that suggests less chemo, Herceptin, and surgery for some cancer patients and admits that many cancer patients receiving have been receiving chemotherapy unnecessarily. Results were discussed at an American Society of Clinical Oncology conference in Chicago and published by the New England Journal of Medicine ( the WSJ , NYP, and most newswires and publications covered the story).

First, it is about time. That said, we have known this for a long time. DOCTORS have known this for a long time. But cancer is big business and an ego business. However, to be clear, these studies were not necessarily done to protect patients from the damages of cancer drugs. The issue was cost, while acknowledging patients can be spared the life-threatening and quality of life-threatening side effects of these treatments. The studies were federally funded, which is great as there is no way a drug company would run a study that could impact their business. Of course, one was funded by Pfizer, but that was to push the drug Sutent over surgical removal of the kidney, so there was a financial interest for them.  However, what these studies have in common is a potential reduction in overall medical costs. This is a good thing! But, don’t for a minute think they are doing this to save your skin. Nothing was mentioned about forgoing cancer drugs while simultaneously requiring insurance companies (and Medicare) to cover well-care.  A well-care program would make holistic therapies and dietary supplements more affordable to the masses. It would allow people to improve health and to address the cause of their cancer, which is not a tamoxifen, Herceptin, or chemo deficiency.

By helping people to change the cancer environment within their bodies, we really CAN lower medical costs and save lives. While that is a story for another day, what annoys me about this sudden revelation of less drugs is that we really have known for many years that drugs are toxic to the body and are not particularly curative. They may kill some of the cancer at hand but do nothing to heal the body and prevent the cancer from coming back. In many cases, they make cancer more aggressive, not to mention do serious collateral damage to the body.

But back to WE KNEW:

I reported back in 2013 that lead doctors at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) in NYC presented on the failure of chemotherapy for the treatment of breast cancer and melanoma. They said they were seeking funds to find new drugs that work. Yet they have still been recommending these failed treatments (certainly for breast cancer) since that revelation. Why? Because they won’t admit to patients that they have no viable tools in their toolbox (and perhaps still need to make money?) I also want to believe that they have significantly scaled back on drug therapies, which is likely the case. I am not singling out MSKCC. I have to believe most cancer centers have seen their patients return with recurrent and metastatic disease after the failure of chemo. It just bugs me that drugs are still at the forefront for cancer treatment. Further, the lack of true integrative oncology in many cancer centers is nothing short of horrifying. Integrative oncology methods improve survival and help mitigate side effects, yet are resisted by many conventional oncologists — even at centers that boast of an integrative department. But that too is a discussion for another day.

Knowing the ineffectiveness of chemo, drug companies have been working hard on new drugs. These new immune-oncology drugs are supposed to extend lives by years, rather than months, but do not offer a cure. In particular, an agreement between Ziopharm Oncology and MD Anderson Cancer Center commenced work on combination drugs they then found could shrink tumors about 30% of the time, but safety studies have not been completed. However, we know that tumor shrinkage does not correlate with survival and combining drugs means additional side effects to the patient. That very topic was part of the MSKCC discussion in 2013, that single drug therapies do not work so doctors were looking at consecutive therapies to get better results, but the effects were too toxic. Yet, new combo treatments are doing just that.  Of course, oncologists are so used to the heavy toxicity of their treatments and the damages they do that it doesn’t seem to concern many of them. But on to the discussion at hand. This hot-off-the-press revelation that chemo is toxic and not helpful for many is old news. But the results from these studies are noteworthy—there was only a 1% risk reduction for a certain group studied who added chemo to their treatment plan.  1% for all that damage. Clearly doctors have been over-treating patients for a long time. The researchers make mention of the OncotypeDX test that can help determine which patients would or would not benefit from chemo. Notably, they make no mention of testing patients to see if they can even tolerate cancer drugs, something that is not uncommon.

Herceptin, another toxic cancer drug that damages the heart, was previously given for 12 months while the new study found 6 months had the same efficacy.  A median follow-up of more than 5 years showed the 4-year disease-free survival rate was 89.4% for women assigned to 6 months of treatment and 89.8% for women assigned to a 12-month duration—a difference of only 0.4%. Perhaps they will now do a new study showing 0 months would be just as effective.

Doctors know that in many cases drug therapy is not needed, but as it has been the Standard of Care (SOC), they must prescribe it. Now that the SOC is proving to be too expensive, the government is looking to curb usage.  Smart move but know that your health is not really on their minds.  Many fear a backlash from drug companies who may raise rates to make up for lost sales. Good luck there—insurance companies will balk and then people may finally be able to get less toxic holistic treatments covered in lieu of costly drugs (okay, maybe I am too optimistic).

Conclusion

The present state of cancer chemotherapy is unsatisfactory. New cancer drugs continue to be developed and approved on the basis of marginal improvements in survival at an unsustainable high financial cost, many of which will later prove to have been ineffective. Personally I would not accept any drug that has not been proven in patients, not trials, to be effective and safe for at least 10 years. If any side effects or lack of efficacy present in those ten years, I would wait another ten years to see the follow up results, as well as more studies that show dismal efficacy for other subgroups of patients. Of course, that strategy of waiting does not work well for obvious reasons, but clearly one must be careful and explore all options, including ‘alternative’ options. For those with late stage or seemingly untreatable cancers, taking a chance on an drug is a different story.

It would seem more rational for cancer strategists to investigate less-conventional treatments currently being used by many to heal from their cancer.  However, the lack of financial reward and tainted association with alternative medicine could dissuade conventional investigators and funding agencies from seriously considering holistic alternatives. At present, few cancer clinical trials of holistic treatments are being conducted. Even if serious interest in funding and carrying out large, formal clinical trials were to develop, data are lacking as to which cancers and chemotherapy regimens to focus on.

Safe, low-cost therapies are underutilized, owing to the absence of randomized controlled trials, the current disinclination of medical journals to publish case reports, and increasing pressures on clinicians to follow the “standard of care.” A methodical evaluation of the effectiveness of such therapies is long overdue.

I am not saying there is never a reason to offer chemo. What I am saying is that the SOC must include the option for less toxic and less expensive remedies for cancer. Holistic treatments have had gratifying results on cancer patients for many, many years despite a lack of clinical trials and published results. Even in the absence of conclusive studies, clinicians should consider using non-toxic therapies, especially for those patients adverse to conventional medicine.  Because the effect seems to be substantial, a small series of cases should enable the clinician to judge whether the effort and expense is worthwhile. If a clinician keeps a running tabulation of patient outcomes, future patients can be told what percentage of patients can expect relief from various treatments and make their decisions accordingly.

The cancer world is not going to change because of my comments, but given the attention these new studies are getting, I felt some commentary could be helpful. My suggestion is to ask, inquire, and DEMAND proof that a recommended toxic treatment will work. Thing is, there is no proof, and moreover, killing the ants will not get to the nest. It is imperative to address the reason for the cancer and not just stomp on the symptoms.

ps…sorry for the rambling 🙂 and this is not meant to be controversial. I respect the choices of all and know that there are many paths for healing. Most importantly, there is no one path that works for everyone.

Elyn

~~If you don’t know your options, you don’t have any~~

ej portrait 150resElyn Jacobs is a breast cancer survivor and holistic cancer strategist who helps people make better, healthier, non-toxic choices. She emphasizes the critical nature of addressing the root cause of cancer and not just its presenting symptoms (such as the tumor). Elyn specializes in understanding the role of estrogen in breast cancer and debunks the myths associated. She is a Contributing Editor for The Truth About Cancer and was creator and host of the Survive and Live Well Radio Show on the Cancer Support Network. Elyn is on the Medical Advisory Board for BeatCancer.Org and is on the Advisory Board to the Radical Remission Project. Elyn was the former Executive Director of the Emerald Heart Cancer Foundation. Contact Elyn via her website. Elyn offers consults via Skype, phone or in person.

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