Oxygen drops help cure breast cancer
Treatment methods for cancer
The goal of cancer treatment is usually the cure or that Long term survival of the patient (curative treatment). The declared principle is hit hard and early. Although this is initially stressful for the patient, it shows better results in the long term than a less aggressive approach.
However, this does not mean that the stress on the patient caused by the treatment is not taken into account. On the contrary: In recent years, the patient's quality of life has come more and more to the fore. In order to keep the side effects as low as possible, several forms of therapy are used in multimodal treatment concepts that complement each other in their effects. On the other hand, studies are constantly being conducted to determine who can really benefit from which treatment in order to expose only these patients to the risks of the respective therapy if possible. And last but not least, effective medication is available today against particularly stressful side effects, above all pain and nausea.
In general, modern cancer treatment is not possible without a package of accompanying measures, which come under the term supportive, so supportive treatment can be summarized. These include, in addition to the aforementioned fight against nausea and pain, z. B. the administration of blood products or growth factors for blood formation in the event of a lack of blood cells, measures to protect against infection or bleeding and the supplementation of the diet with liquid food supplements up to complete artificial nutrition.
In some cases, however, it turns out that the malignant cells have already spread further than initially assumed. Less often it is already clear at the time of diagnosis that no cure will be possible. Even then, the disease can often be kept in check for a long time, sometimes for many years, and the patient's quality of life can be improved (palliative treatment).
In all stages of the disease, more attention is paid to the quality of life and the individual situation of the person affected than in the past. Decisions are made with the patient, not about him.
Pre- and post-treatment of a tumor. In order to be able to completely remove a tumor, it sometimes has to be reduced in size using radiation or chemotherapy before surgery. This is called neoadjuvant therapy designated. Follow-up treatment (adjuvant therapy) destroy small nests of residual tumor cells.
If it is possible to completely remove the tumor surgically, an operation is carried out as early as possible. As far as necessary and possible, a safety margin of a few centimeters and neighboring lymph nodes are also removed.
But even if the tumor cannot be completely removed, its reduction (debulking) improves the chances of further forms of treatment. In addition, the operation often prevents complications from the growing tumor, e.g. B. an intestinal obstruction, and thus has an overall soothing effect on the symptoms despite the initial stress of the procedure.
Radiation therapy also has a permanent place in the treatment concept for many tumors. The aim of irradiation is to kill the tumor cells. However, healthy cells are also damaged, from which the side effects of radiation therapy are derived.
Usually radiation therapy (adjuvant therapy) after an operation, eliminate the risk that tumor cells remaining in the vicinity of the operation area will grow again into a tumor and into a Local recurrence to lead. For some tumors, radiation therapy is the only form of treatment. You then work with higher doses, for example in the case of brain tumors that are so inconvenient that they cannot be removed. In the case of bone or brain metastases in particular, radiation treatment is used to alleviate symptoms (palliative radiation).
The third major pillar of medical cancer treatment is chemotherapy with cytostatics.
Cytostatics are cell toxins that inhibit cell growth and reproduction. Their main area of application is cancer treatment, in which they are supposed to kill the uncontrolled growing tumor cells. Cytostatics are also used Autoimmune diseases used to reduce the "malformed" immune cells.
Use of cytostatics. In cancer treatment, cytostatics are usually one of several forms of treatment: With neoadjuvant chemotherapy, they are intended to reduce the size of the tumor before an operation, with adjuvant chemotherapy after an operation to destroy any tiny tumor cell nests (micrometastases) that may still be present in the body, which cannot be detected with conventional diagnostic methods , but later often lead to metastases. In only about 10% of cancer cases, cytostatics are the main or only form of treatment.
Dosage form of cytostatics. Most of the cytostatics are given as infusions or tablets. So they work throughout the body, but also develop side effects everywhere. Cytostatics are rarely introduced into body cavities, e.g. B. in the urinary bladder with a bladder tumor or in theCSF space. Then the side effects on the whole organism are much lower.
Usually, cytostatics are given in chemotherapy cycles lasting several days, which are repeated about every three weeks. Healthy cells recover faster than tumor cells between two cycles, so that cytostatics have a stronger effect on tumor cells than on healthy cells. The cytostatics are rarely administered as long-term treatment (e.g. hydroxyurea, Litalir® for chronic leukemia) in low doses.
In the High dose chemotherapy cytostatics are dosed 3 to 30 times higher than in a "normal" chemotherapy cycle in order to kill all malignant cells in the body as far as possible. However, due to the high dosage, this form of therapy is risky. Because of the damage to the mucous membrane cells, the patient usually has to be fed artificially until the cells of the gastrointestinal tract have recovered. The blood-forming cells in the bone marrow are even irreparably damaged, what without Blood stem cell transplant would lead to the death of the patient. High-dose chemotherapy is well established for leukemia and lymphoma. In the case of solid tumors (“nodular growing”), hopes have not been fulfilled overall.
Effect of the cytostatics. In principle, cytostatics make no difference between healthy and malignant cells. The faster cells grow and multiply, the more they are damaged. There are also healthy cells in the body that divide quickly and are accordingly affected by cytostatic treatment. These are primarily the blood-forming cells in the bone marrow, the mucous membrane cells in the gastrointestinal tract and the hair root cells. These side effects limit the dose of the cytostatic agent.
Cytostatics are divided into several groups of active substances, e.g. B .:
- Alkylating agents such as cisplatin (e.g. Platinex®), cyclophosphamide (e.g. Endoxan®), ifosfamide (e.g. Holoxan®), oxaliplatin (e.g. Eloxatin®)
- Antimetabolites such as cladribine (e.g. Leustatin®), cytarabine (e.g. Alexan®), fluorouracil (e.g. 5-FU Hexal®), gemcitabine (e.g. Gemzar®), methotrexate (e.g. Methotrexate Lederle®)
- Alkaloids such as etoposide (e.g. Vepesid®), paclitaxel (e.g. Taxol®), vinblastine (e.g. vinblastine sulfate GRY®), vincristine (e.g. Onkocristin®)
- Cytostatic antibiotics such as bleomycin (e.g. Bleomeolac®), daunorubicin (e.g. Daunoblastin®), doxorubicin (e.g. Adriblastin®), mitomycin (e.g. Mitomycin medac®)
- Other cytotoxic drugs such as asparaginase (e.g. Asparaginase medac®), hydroxyurea (e.g. Litalir®), irinotecan (e.g. Campto®)
Early side effects
Hardly any other drug treatment scares patients as much as chemotherapy with cytostatics. Not without good reason: side effects occur 100%. They are uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous. But: It is now possible to significantly reduce the worst side effects.
Nausea, vomiting. The most feared side effects include nausea and vomiting. Today, preventive drugs are given as early as the first cycle of therapy, the selection of which depends on both the cytostatic drugs administered and the patient's individual risk. A combination of active ingredients almost always minimizes nausea and prevents vomiting. They are very effective Setrons (such as Ondansetron, e.g. Zofran®, Granisetron, e.g. Kevatril®, Tropisetron, e.g. Navoban®) together with cortisone (especially dexamethasone, e.g. Fortecortin®).
Loss of appetite. To stimulate the appetite, galangal or calamus rootstock are suitable, as they contain many bitter substances. They are available as tinctures and can be taken dissolved in water before meals. If a tincture loses its effect on the patient, a switch to the other active plant ingredient is indicated.
Digestive problems. Combination preparations such as Iberogast®, Carvomin® Digestion Drops, Carminativum Hetterich® or Lomatol® Drops have proven themselves as herbal prokinetics - drugs that improve digestion. Of the monopreparations, curcumen capsules, Curcu-Truw® or Harongan® drops are suitable. Since it is not possible to predict which herbal remedies will work best, a 14-day attempt at therapy is recommended.
Inflammation of the mucous membranes. Certain chemotherapeutic agents can cause inflammation of the mucous membrane (mucositis), especially of the oral mucosa. The intestinal mucosa can also be affected, which manifests itself in the form of diarrhea.
Depending on the severity of the inflammation, the symptoms of an inflammation of the oral mucous membrane range from a slight burning sensation to severe pain and disruption of food intake. A visit to the dentist before the start of chemotherapy is advisable in order to have "weak points" on teeth, gums and, if necessary, dentures repaired and to reduce the risk of inflammation. During chemotherapy, oral care should be careful, but at the same time gentle, as oral mucous membrane ulcers, e.g. B. bleeding easily from a toothbrush that is too hard and can become a source of infection due to the simultaneous reduction in immune cells. So after every meal, brush your teeth with a soft toothbrush, if it is still too hard, use oneIrrigator change, use dental care chewing gum if necessary. Amifostin® is available as a drug to protect the mucous membrane, but its use is very limited due to the risk of severe skin symptoms, drop in blood pressure and nausea.
For treatment, it is advisable to drink plenty of fluids, only lightly season food, avoid vinegar or other spicy supplements, and rinse the mouth with chlorhexidine and sage several times a day. Hard, sharp-edged and acidic foods should be avoided. If this is not enough, the doctor will prescribe “soft” food with toast, noodles, rice (not whole grain rice) and pudding or even mashed foods such as soups or porridge (e.g. pureed vegetables). Sage, chamomile and marigold tea can be used both for mouthwashes and to make ice cubes or lollipops. Sucking ice cubes relieves pain. In the worst case, it has to be fed artificially through a gastric tube or vein.
Smoking and alcohol are two of the few taboos. The body is already heavily stressed during chemotherapy, and other poisons (alcohol, nicotine) should be avoided at all costs. In addition, intolerance symptoms can occur with some chemotherapeutic agents when alcohol is consumed at the same time.
Vein irritation. In the course of treatment, venous irritation and inflammation, including venous blockage (vein obliteration) due to the cytostatic infusions, increase, making it increasingly difficult to find a suitable vein for blood draws or infusions. Therefore, patients who are likely to have several chemotherapy cycles are usually offered the implantation of a port system.
A small box with a fluid chamber (comparable in size to a pacemaker) is implanted under the skin in the collarbone area and connected to a large vein in the chest using a thin tube. Before the start of the therapy cycle, all that is left to do is to puncture the chamber through the skin (which can be easily hit) and to connect special utensils through which all infusions can then be given. At the end of the cycle, the cutlery is removed so that the person concerned z. B. can shower without any problems. Provided that it is used correctly, a port lasts longer than a year and saves those affected from the increasingly difficult procedure of searching for veins.
Hair loss. Hair loss, which is caused by damage to the hair root cells, is often unavoidable. Depending on the type of cytostatics used, but also individually, it affects not only the scalp hair, but also eyebrows, eyelashes and pubic hair. A few weeks after the end of chemotherapy, the hair begins to grow back, but it may look a little different than before, e.g. B. curly.
It is advisable to have a wig made in good time (the cost of synthetic hair is covered by the health insurance), as long as your own hair is still available as a "sample", regardless of whether the wig will be mostly worn later or not. Because those affected perceive hair loss very differently: While some need to look as "normal" as possible for their well-being, so put make-up on their eyebrows and wear a wig at home, others find a soft headscarf more comfortable or prefer to go "topless" because they perceive everything else as “not belonging to themselves”.
Fortunately, dealing with treatment-related hair loss is much more open today than it used to be. When it comes to the question “wig, headscarf or nothing at all”, you should primarily focus on yourself! Headgear is only really necessary for protection in strong sunlight or in the cold.
Lack of blood cells. Initially not noticed by the patient, the side effects of chemotherapy on the blood cells are medically relevant. Most significant is the drop in white blood cells (Leukocytes) which leads to an increased risk of infection. How strong it is depends on the cytostatic drug and the dose administered. With a slight drop, Leukocytopenia (leukopenia for short), it is usually sufficient to stay away from people with a visible infectious disease and to avoid crowds.
In addition, the growth of white blood cells can now be accompanied by medication if necessary G-CSF(Neupogen®, Granocyte®) are stimulated. A heavy drop (Agranulocytosis), on the other hand, is life-threatening, but rather rare with normal-dose chemotherapy. The number of blood platelets responsible for blood clotting also falls - one of the reasons for careful oral care to avoid excessive bleeding from the gums. The anemia caused by the cytostatic treatment is usually the least problem and can be managed with the transfusion of red cell concentrates.
Impairment of memory. Many cancer patients struggle with memory problems and impaired fine motor skills after chemotherapy. Doctors also speak of a "chemo-brain", in German "chemo brain". Until now, many doctors assumed that patients would recover quickly from it. However, this does not apply to all, as a study with 92 leukemia and lymphoma patients shows. Five years after chemotherapy, almost 40% were still struggling with impaired memory and problems with fine motor skills.
psyche. The patient's psychological well-being also suffers from chemotherapy: Who would like to have concentrated cytotoxins infused! On the other hand: Those who can trust their doctors and nurses, know their relatives and consciously say “yes” to life after chemotherapy, also tolerate the infusions better and have proven to have fewer side effects. Knowledge and understanding of cancer and its treatment, a positive attitude towards therapy and good support from professional helpers and relatives definitely have a positive effect.
In order to get through chemotherapy well, it helps to create a pleasant atmosphere as often as possible (e.g. listening to music, reading books) and to relax, e.g. B. using Relaxation procedure. In addition, it makes sense to eat many small meals and choose the dishes according to appetite and tolerance. Chewing gum, sucking candy or inhaling aromas are also worth a try.
Late side effects and permanent consequences
fertility. Basically, cytostatics impair fertility up to complete infertility. Whether these changes are temporary or permanent depends on the type, dose, and duration of chemotherapy. For this reason, young men are recommended to freeze a sperm donation (Cryopreservation).In women, the ovaries can be “shut down” with medication for the duration of chemotherapy, thereby protecting them. The deep-freeze storage of ovarian tissue or egg cells is (still) in the experimental stage. Permanent hormone deficiency symptoms in the sense of artificially induced Menopause occur mainly in women and may require hormone administration. Cytostatics also damage the unborn child. Both women and men must therefore use a safe method of contraception during and for the first two years after chemotherapy.
Organ damage. Like all drugs, cytostatics can damage certain organs such as the heart. In order to avoid this damage as much as possible, the endangered organs are regularly examined before and during the treatment, if necessary the cytostatic agent is changed or the dose is reduced.
Secondary tumors. Due to their possible genome-altering effect, cytostatics also increase the risk of developing secondary tumors, especially acute leukemia. The risk increases further when chemotherapy and radiation therapy are combined.
In particular, tumors of the genital organs and the female breast are stimulated or inhibited in their growth by hormones. Here can be a comparatively well tolerated Hormone treatment be useful. The individual substances and their side effects are shown for the respective tumors (for the at Breast cancer usual hormone treatments).
Local therapies are only used in specialized hospitals. Here, too, the aim is to destroy the tumor while sparing the rest of the body as much as possible. All local therapies are only useful if the tumor is limited to a circumscribed area and an operation is not possible or not desired. Successful local therapy can also reduce the tumor to such an extent that a subsequent operation is possible.
In the case of local chemotherapy, attempts are made to bring the cytostatics as close as possible to the tumor and to keep their concentration in the rest of the body low, e.g. For example, in the case of liver metastases, the cytostatics are given directly into the portal vein leading through the liver. Local radiation therapy is possible, for example, by introducing radioactive globules that emit radiation only a short distance away into the tumor.
In the Cryothermia the tumor is "iced up" atlocoregional hyperthermia warmed to over 40 ° C, as tumor cells are particularly sensitive to heat. Laser therapies can e.g. B. in skin cancer (melanoma) can be used. Modern, gentle and often outpatient procedures are laser-induced thermotherapy and thermal radiofrequency ablation, in which light or electrical energy generates heat and thus destroys the tumor. Both are currently used primarily to treat liver metastases.
Complementary medical cancer therapies
More than 50% of all cancer patients use alternative or complementary medical cancer therapies at some point in the course of the disease, although with a few exceptions they are not paid for by the health insurances.
Neither the conventional medical nor the complementary medical / alternative procedures should be condemned or lifted to heaven - both should have their success measured according to comprehensible criteria.
Even doctors cannot always judge whether the theory behind a treatment is logical or not. How should a person affected form a judgment? Mistrust is always appropriate when unrealistic promises are made (cure in any case, with a wide variety of tumors and / or without side effects), when the (previously) treating doctor is not to be told anything, conventional medical therapies are to be broken off or decisions are to be made under time pressure. Furthermore, skepticism should be exercised if advance payments are expected - be it the belief in the healer or the opening of the wallet. Even if you have a serious illness like cancer, you can afford to wait a few days and get a second opinion. This is especially true for expensive therapies, because precisely there there is a risk that the patient's recovery is not in the foreground.
There are over 100 complementary medicine cancer therapies. Some have a “unique selling proposition”, others see themselves exclusively as a supplement to conventional medicine. The following overview explains the most common and well-known.
Basic nutritional concepts
Diet change. A change in diet is recommended by almost all alternative therapists, on the one hand because malnutrition is a risk factor for them Carcinogenesis is, on the other hand, because a balanced supply of nutrients also increases the resistance and thus the self-healing power of the body. Often the change in diet is not just about observing the rules of balanced Mediterranean diet understood, but more:
Cancer diets claim, for example, to "starve out" cancer. Cures according to Breuss (42 days only vegetable juice and herbal tea), the Grape Curenach Brandt (two weeks only grapes and water, then slow diet), the instinct diet according to burger (only raw food), macrobiotics (only allows grains and some vegetables and Fruit) and metabolic therapy after cancer (vegan diet plus amygdalin containing hydric acid) are such cancer diets. For all that is known, they are useless and, because of their side effects, even life-threatening.
A healthy selection of foods can be found e.g. B. with the oil-protein diet according to Budwig (rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, prevents weight loss), the metabolically active diet according to Anemueller and Ries (healthy mixed diet, little meat, no sweets) or the lactic acid therapy according to Kuhl (moderately vegetarian Diet with a high proportion of dextrorotatory lactic acid). Unfortunately, there are no scientific studies on the effectiveness of any of the therapies mentioned. In this respect, it is not clear whether they bring any additional benefit.
Food supplements in the form of trace elements, vitamins and minerals (micronutrients) are often recommended. Normally dosed, e.g. For example, multivitamin preparations available in drugstores and pharmacies are generally useful as dietary supplements. This is because the need for these nutrients increases during chemotherapy, but the intake decreases rather due to the lack of appetite and the often monotonous hospital food. Any increased dosage or special intake of individual micronutrients should always be coordinated with the doctor, as some substances such as folic acid and B vitamins promote cell division and possibly endanger the success of chemotherapy. Some naturopaths also recommend dangerously high doses in some cases. As a guideline, even for a short time, never more than two to three times the amount of the food provided by the German Nutrition Society V. recommended dose should be taken.
- The low-dose administration of selenium to be. It can reduce the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation. Some studies suggest that selenium helps prevent cancer. According to the latest findings, however, there is no clear evidence of this. Bladder and prostate cancer are less common in people who take selenium. However, they are just as likely to develop breast cancer and other types of cancer as those who do not swallow selenium.
- zinc seems to have no preventive or therapeutic effect against cancer, but reduced the side effects of radiation in two studies.
- The taking of Vitamins A, C, D and E. is generally regarded as not therapeutically effective, in particular a more recent double-blind study showed no benefit for high-dose vitamin C in comparison with placebo. However, vitamin E reduces the side effects of chemotherapy with cisplatin.
- The additional intake of Calcium Potentially lowers the relapse rate after colon cancer.
- The taking of magnesium may be useful to compensate for a deficiency caused by chemotherapy.
- Coenzyme Q10 (Ubiquinone) is a dietary supplement. Some studies show a certain protection of the heart during chemotherapy containing anthracyclines when coenzyme Q10 is taken at the same time. Side effects include nausea, gastrointestinal symptoms, elevated liver values, and mild insomnia.
More basic concepts
detoxification. It is undisputed that poisons - above all smoking - contribute to the development of numerous tumors. Quitting smoking is therefore very important.
The effect of other detoxification measures such as alkaline baths, cleansing of the stove and "liver cures" has not been proven. The coffee enemas recommended by Max Gerson can cause colon inflammation or a circulatory breakdown.
Light and movement. Sunlight (with appropriate sunscreen) and exercise are often suggested to improve the quality of life. Strolls in the sun don't make tumors go away, but they do increase your sense of wellbeing. Joy of life is not limited to healthy people. Many alternative medical practitioners emphasize that fun, laughter and sex should keep their place in life because they promote the release of happiness hormones, which lifts the mood and strengthens the immune system. The same applies to appropriate physical activity. Cancer patients used to be advised to take it easy, but it has meanwhile been shown that moderate but regular physical activity increases the quality of life, shortens the recovery phase after strenuous therapies and, by strengthening the immune system, may have a positive effect on the long-term progression. These Sports Oncology is accepted by conventional medicine, more and more clinics are offering advice and accompanying offers.
Internal attitude. There is a lot of evidence that the right mindset helps manage cancer better, improves quality of life, and even extends life. Think about how you have dealt with stress and crises so far and whether previous coping mechanisms can help you. Relaxation procedure, yoga and psychotherapy have long been used to promote well-being and to reduce pain, and self-help groups can also help to (re) find inner balance. Psychological support, also in the form of crisis intervention orshort-term psychotherapy, also makes an important contribution to reflecting on the inner attitude towards cancer and to consolidating one's own will to live. Especially if the environment is problematic, for example due to divorce or death, or if loved ones are absent when the children move out, everything should be done to get professional support quickly, because the waiting times are sometimes long.
Try to find the right balance between thinking about the illness and relaxation, because both are necessary in order to be able to cope with the illness. Do not allow yourself to be squeezed into a “coping strategy scheme”! There are certainly interrelationships between soul and body and, particularly interesting here, between soul, nervous and immune systems (psychoneuroimmunology). According to current knowledge, whether you take a “combative” approach against cancer, are more of the quiet types or at some point deliberately put an end to thinking about cancer is not decisive for the further course of events.
Some authors go one step further and recommend targeted changes to one's own beliefs, so-called tumor contracts. The role of religion or, more specifically, the practiced belief in coping with cancer has now been well researched. A positive influence of belief in God and / or practical spirituality on dealing with illness (coping) and on subjective well-being is now scientifically affirmed. Building on this, spiritual means such as prayer for healing are also mentioned as independent cancer therapies. However, it is difficult to assess their benefits, because from the fact that believing people cope better with cancer (for example, as research has shown, they have a stronger immune system) one must not infer that previously non-believers, if they practice Christian or Far Eastern doctrines of salvation and benefit in an analogous way.
Immunotherapies use the body's immune system to fight cancer. The first cancer immunotherapy was discovered over 100 years ago. However, we were only just beginning to understand the complexity of the immune response to tumors. In the next few paragraphs, both immunotherapies in conventional medicine and the best-known alternative therapeutic approaches will be discussed in more detail.
Messenger substances of the immune system are supposed to strengthen the immune system by activating natural killer cells. Well-known representatives are interleukins or alpha interferon. Some interferons also have an anti-tumor effect, which is used in the treatment of so-called hairy cell leukemia or T-cell lymphoma. Alpha interferon is also used in certain types of inflammation of the liver (acute viral hepatitis and chronic inflammation of the liver), Beta interferon in the Multiple sclerosis used. The main side effects are flu-like symptoms, which can usually be managed well with paracetamol (e.g. ben-u-ron®).
Monoclonal antibodies against the tumor: Certain tumors have structures on their surface that are far less common in healthy cells. Be in the laboratory monoclonal antibodies (i.e. exactly the same) made against exactly this structure and then given to the patient. The antibodies attach (almost only) to the tumor cells and damage them directly or indirectly via a response from the immune system. Examples are the antibody trastuzumab (Herceptin®) used against breast cancer or the CD20 antibody rituximab (MabThera®) in the treatment of non-Hodgkin lymphomas. Other antibodies such as cetuximab (Erbitux®) or bevacizumab (Avastin®) inhibit the formation of new vessels within the tumor, which is then cut off from the supply of blood and nutrients and its growth is inhibited. By the way: All preparations contain the syllable "mab" (for monoclonal antibody; the preparations are usually referred to as MABs). Sometimes poisons or radioactive substances are bound to the antibodies in order to specifically damage the tumor cells (radioimmunotherapy). Examples are Mylotarg® and Bexxar®. The costs for monoclonal antibodies are very high (over € 10,000), but are often covered by the health insurers.
Molecular Tumor Therapies should intervene specifically in tumor growth, tumor cell spread and tumor cell death at the molecular level (molecules are combinations of atoms, the smallest building blocks of all matter). Currently the most important starting point is a group of proteins that Tyrosine kinasesinvolved in regulating the growth of cells and whose activity ultimately promotes tumor growth. One way of influencing the tyrosine kinases is thatmonoclonal antibodythat are directed against receptors (coupling points) on the surface of cancer cells. Another way is to use artificially produced chemical substances that block the action of the tyrosine kinases in the tumor cell. To this Tyrosine kinase inhibitors include Imatinib (Glivec®), Erlotinib (Tarceva®), Sunitinib (Sutent®), and Sorafenib (Nexavar®). Its field of application currently includes certain advanced cancers that no longer respond to cytostatics, especially lung, pancreatic and renal cell cancer as well as chronic myeloid leukemia.
Tumor vaccinations are given to the patient as specially prepared tumor cell structures or structures similar to these. The immune system is supposed to produce antibodies against these artificial cell structures, which also match the tumor cells and attack them. Studies have shown a slight survival benefit for several types of cancer, including Colon cancer and kidney cell cancer. However, the latter is controversial due to methodological deficiencies in the study. Side effects are fever and chills. The costs are ~ 20,000 € and are usually not covered.
Mistletoe preparations. There are various mistletoe preparations (mistletoe extracts) that differ in the type of mistletoe (which subspecies of which tree) and the manufacturing process (pressing, aqueous extract, fermentation). So far, no preparation has been shown to be superior to the others. Several (sometimes methodologically criticized) studies showed an improved quality of life and an increase in survival time; other studies could not prove any effect. In addition to the inflammatory reaction at the injection site - the medication is usually injected - the main side effects are fever, temporary swelling of the lymph nodes, activation of foci of inflammation and allergic reactions. It is not known with certainty whether mistletoe preparations can also stimulate tumor cells in individual cases. Their use in acute leukemia is therefore out of the question. Treatment of chronic leukemia and lymphoma with mistletoe extracts should only be performed by experienced therapists.There are also uncertainties about the optimal application (how often, how long, where to inject). Mistletoe preparations are relatively inexpensive (25 ampoules, e.g. Lektinol®, ~ € 200), whereby the costs are usually covered by the health insurance company in the event of advanced disease. They are therefore widely used as additional therapy. However, simultaneous therapy during radiation treatment or chemotherapy should not be carried out without consulting the attending physician.
Fever therapies are carried out with various bacterial products. Studies showed a good effectiveness of the als Coley toxins known Mixed Bacterial Vaccine (MBV) for sarcomas (malignant tumors of the connective and supporting tissue). Spontaneous remissions after a high fever are also known. Later, the passive warming of the body (Full body or regional hyperthermia) set. However, hyperthermia does not seem to have as strong an effect on the immune system as an active one Fever therapy. Unfortunately, there is a lack of modern, independent studies on the effectiveness of fever therapies. The side effects are chills, fever and inflammation at the injection site and occasionally nausea, headache and body aches.
BCG (Bacille Calmette Guerin, the tuberculosis vaccine bacterium) has been tested many times as a supporting factor (immunomodulator) for immune stimulation. Ultimately, only the local therapy of superficial bladder cancer with BCG has proven successful Instillation therapy. Active tuberculosis must be ruled out before starting therapy.
Thymus extracts (Thymus peptides) have been around for 70 years. They influence the immune system and activate defense cells, among other things. Side effects are diarrhea, local inflammatory reactions, fever, chills, inhibition of certain white blood cells and possibly the transmission of infectious diseases. Individual studies suggest that thymus extracts can improve the effectiveness of conventional therapies or reduce side effects. The individual preparations are very different in terms of production and price (costs around € 1,000–1,600 per year).
The Issels Therapy claims to be a holistic treatment concept with dental rehabilitation, detoxification, diet change, rehabilitation of the intestinal flora and care for the mental well-being of the patient. A wide variety of alternative therapies such as fever therapy, oxygen therapy, enzyme preparations, self-made bacteria-containing vaccines (vaccines) and others are combined. The main side effects of the vaccines are a rise in temperature and sensitivity to pain in the tumor area.
Human autologous blood therapies come in many varieties. In principle, blood is taken from the patient, processed in various ways (e.g. oxygenated or UV-irradiated) and injected again under the skin. The effectiveness has not been verified in controlled clinical studies. On the other hand, side effects have been described including circulatory reactions and large bruises and foci of pus in chemotherapy patients.
Transfer factor is called an immunomodulating cow's milk extract. In non-small cell lung cancer, studies have shown that this preparation can extend life. According to the manufacturer, no side effects are to be expected.
Galavit® was developed in the Soviet Union. It is said to have been successfully tested on 50,000 cancer patients. The fact that the efficacy and safety of the substance has not even been proven in animal experiments speaks against its use in humans.
Other alternative therapies
homeopathy, Traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurveda and Anthroposophy each have their own concepts for tumor therapy. Homeopathy has shown no effectiveness in cancer therapy in controlled studies. Ayurveda may help prevent certain types of cancer, but therapeutically it is quite unexplored and also not free from side effects. Acupuncture can be expected to relieve unpleasant symptoms without affecting the course of the disease.
Shiitake mushrooms and some other Asian mushroom species have contributed to prolonging life in cancer patients in various studies. Anthroposophic medicine is mainly through the use of Mistletoe preparations known.
Oxygen (O2) and ozone (O3). In individual cases, the administration of oxygen certainly makes sense, for example to relieve shortness of breath in lung cancer, but a specific cancer-curing effect has not yet been proven. In addition, pure oxygen can also be harmful. There is also no proof of effectiveness for ozone. Fatal incidents occurred when ozone was injected into the vein. In addition, side effects include circulatory collapse, heart damage, permanent paralysis and blindness.
Hormonally active substances. Melatonin, a hormone used to treat insomnia, is said to increase survival time in high doses, but the studies on which it is based have since revealed serious shortcomings. Therefore the effect is more than questionable. In principle, it should not be used during chemotherapy due to interactions. Side effects are dizziness, irritability, nightmares, stomach cramps, reduced sperm count, lower libido and breast development in men. Caution should be exercised with psychiatric illnesses as melatonin can make them worse.
Indole-3-carbinol is a broccoli ingredient that is used as a complementary therapy for hormone-dependent breast cancer. Efficacy studies are not available.
Shark cartilage preparations should inhibit the formation of new vessels in the tumor and thus prevent further growth. This effect could not be confirmed in a controlled study. About 10% of the patients have an intolerance to shark cartilage powder and react to it with gastrointestinal complaints or allergic reactions. The active ingredient Nevostat, obtained from cartilage, looks more promising and is currently being investigated in various studies.
Cancer Metabolic Therapies (Cellular respiratory therapy). According to this theory, cancer is a result of metabolic disorders and a lack of oxygen supply to the cells. Most of them are hardly recommendable, with the exception of the drug Ukrain®, a mixture of celandine alkaloids and the chemotherapeutic agent Thiotepa®, for which a study in pancreatic cancer has shown a survival advantage of a few months. The drug is not approved in Germany, there is too little data on effectiveness and safety, and the therapy costs are extremely high at ~ 6,000 € per week.
Frequency and enzyme therapies. Frequency therapies are supposed to build up a healthy energy field and lead to the death of cancer cells. There are no studies on the effect, electromagnetic fields are said to be able to cause cancer even if they are exposed to them for a long time.
Enzymes with the ability to break down certain tumor proteins are said to have a beneficial effect on inflammatory processes and possibly also increase the effect of chemotherapy with fewer side effects at the same time, in particular the enzyme combination according to Wolf and Ransberger.
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