Treating advanced breast cancer

Treating advanced breast cancer with conventional medical treatment and naturopathic care

Recently I have seen many patients with advanced breast cancer. Most of them failed many lines of chemotherapy (at least two lines), and now undergoing more aggressive chemotherapy with or without targeted therapies (like Herceptin/Cetuximab) and some taking hormonal ablation therapies like Leuprolide injections. From my conventional oncology background, I appreciate much these interventions as they all aim at reducing the tumor mass and getting better disease free / progression free intervals.

More than gaining few months/ years for these patients, it is clear that the quality of life of these patients make a lot of difference. So treating advanced / metastatic breast cancer with chemotherapy can increase their disease free interval few months but also it drains their energy and some of them get depletion of their immune system so they are more liable to infections / sepsis. The addition of naturopathic supportive care for these patients makes a lot of difference; like giving them proper nutrition, to support their immune system and replenish their depleted nutrients, managing pain with acupuncture or alternating heat and cold rather than giving narcotic sedatives with all know side effects like constipation, sleepiness and drowsiness. I have seen many patients receiving subcutaneous Isadora (an herb that helps boost immune function and improve stamina in cancer patients), or giving them high dose intravenous vitamin C can change the lives of these patients dramatically.

To be honest I cannot say naturopathic interventions can improve survival for these patients; it could prove that if proper research is done on these patients and looked into survival benefit; but the thing I am sure of is that the majority of advanced cancer patients do very well on naturopathic care when they receive it as compared to those who do not receive it.

Because I have been in conventional medical care as medical and radiation oncologist for over 20 years (outside Canada) and even when I visited Princess Margaret Hospital and General Jewish Hospital Cancer department; I found a great difference between patients treated with conventional medical care alone as compared to those who received this conventional care and naturopathic support as well, in favor of those who receive both types of care.

In some patients with advanced breast cancer, even the conventional medical care is just a supportive care with no chemotherapy , radiation or targeted therapy, because simply in this group of patients the oncologists find no benefit of giving farther chemotherapy or radiation to them and the harm of getting these interventions supersedes the benefits of giving further chemotherapy and radiation; so these patients would be referred to palliative care service where they would be under pain killers and sometimes intravenous fluids, for this patient population naturopathic care plays even a greater role using other modalities like high dose intravenous vitamin C and intravenous multivitamins and minerals that supply these patients with their needs of essential nutrients, also giving them essential oral nutrition that suits their case is of paramount importance.

In summary; a modern oncology care necessitates the integration of naturopathic medicine for advanced breast cancer patients to optimize their quality of life.

Ehab Mohammed

ND,   Ontario