The treatment of lung cancer by conventional and integrative methods
Causes of Lung Cancer
Lung cancer is one of the three most common types of cancer. In many cases it is caused by heavy and prolonged smoking, but recently the number of lung cancer patients who have never smoked has been on the rise. Additional causes of lung cancer are environmental pollution, the HPV virus, obesity etc.
Lung Cancer- Types and Stages of the Disease
A pathological examination of 20% of patients diagnosed with lung cancer, show a tumor that is composed of small cells which are multiplying at a rapid pace. This is a very violent form of cancer which sends metastases already at the early stages, and therefore considered inoperable and in most cases the treatment is with a combination of chemotherapy drugs.
At the other 80% of lung cancer patients, the tumor is comprised of cells which are not small cells, most of them are adenocarcinoma cells and some are squamous cells. These tumors are divided into stages. Stage 1 patients have one tumor which is localized in one lung. In stages 2 & 3 the tumor can be in both lungs or may infiltrates the lymph nodes in the vicinity of the lungs. In stage 4 patients, metastases are found in other organs mainly in the liver, bones or brain.
Stage 1 is treatable surgically in most patients. In stages 2 & 3, a surgery is not enough, and will be combined with radiations and/or chemotherapy. In stage 4 the treatment will be chemotherapy.
Lung Cancer- the Chemotherapy Treatment
Chemotherapy is given mainly in case of a metastatic lung cancer. There are a number of different types of chemotherapies drugs with certain efficacy in lung tumors. In most cases 2 or 3 chemotherapy drugs are administered together. Among the chemotherapy medications given in lung cancer: Cisplatin, Carboplatin, Alimta, Navelbine, Taxol, Taxotere and Gemzar.
Beyond the significant toxicity of the chemotherapy agents, the duration of their efficacy is not long and they prolong the lung cancer patients’ lives by few months only.
Metastatic Lung Cancer- Biological and Immunological Treatments
In recent years, major progress has been achieved in the treatment of lung cancer due to the development of new biological and immunological agents. These agents which do not cause the destruction of the cells (like the chemotherapy drugs), but rather influence processes inside the cell that stops its functioning, or that they make the immune system act against the malignant cells.
The advantage of these medications is that their toxicity is far lower than the toxicity of chemotherapy drugs, and they allow a far greater prolongation of life. The major setback in these medications is that they are not suitable for every patient. The patients need to go through genetic diagnosis such as the ALK, EGFR, BRAF, and/or PD-1 mutations. Only patients carrying the matching genetic changes could receive these costly yet highly effective treatments.
Lung Cancer- Alternative and Integrative Treatments
The results of the treatments of lung cancer, despite the improvement by the new biological and immunological drugs, are still far from being satisfactory. Therefore, the integration of alternative cancer treatments as a part in the treatments program of patients with lung cancer is important and therefore very common. Some patients receive only alternative lung cancer treatments since they do not want or cannot receive conventional treatments. In other patients the alternative lung cancer treatments are combined with the conventional treatments.
Complementary Treatments of Lung Cancer
Many treatments methods which are in use in alternative-complementary medicine for cancer were found to be effective in different studies.
Herbal cancer treatments: studies show that Aloe-Vera, Artemisia, Berberine, Ginseng, Curcumin, green tea, black tea and Ginger, are effective in the treatment of lung cancer.
Vitamins minerals and more: vitamins K, D, C, Resveratrol, Selenium, Quercetin, Germanium, fish-oil, NAC, Emodin, Inositol, Bromelain, and medicinal fungi.
Nutrition: lung cancer patients need to maintain a sugar free and low fat diet like all cancer patients. Additionally, recommended dietary items for lung cancer patients are: strawberries, pineapple, soy, cherries, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, parsley and ginger.
Hyperthermia: a study from Japan which was done on 24 lung cancer patients which were treated with hyperthermia showed that 70% of them survived above the average. A study from Italy shows that administration of hyperthermia after failure of surgery and radiation in lung tumors proved beneficial and improved prognosis. Another study from Tokyo, Japan, demonstrated that a combination of radiation therapy with hyperthermia in patients with a locally advanced tumor, resulted in a significant slowdown in the rate of tumors progression. These studies and others demonstrate the efficiency and importance of hyperthermia as part of lung cancer treatments.
Lung cancer is an aggressive form of malignancy in most cases. Therefore, it is recommended to combine all forms of treatment: surgery, radiation, chemotherapy drugs, biological and immunological agents, medicinal plants, dietary supplements, diet and hyperthermia in order to achieve the best possibilities to cope with the disease.