U.S. Watching British Fight to Expand Healthcare Coverage to Experimental Cancer Treatments

Cancer patients and healthcare providers are watching the progress of a proposed British bill that would allow the country’s nationalized healthcare system to pay for experimental cancer treatments even if there is no proof they work. Like Britain,

Concerned citizens are watching.
Concerned citizens are watching.

America’s established medical and insurance communities favor long-standing traditional cancer treatments and have been slow to recognize the value of what they term alternative and complementary medicine, much less embrace the healing potential of experimental cancer treatments. Under current British law, experimental cancer treatments are illegal in the United Kingdom, a situation the bill’s author, Lord Maurice Saatchi, hopes to change. Should Parliament approve the bill, it could open the door for the expansion of approved cancer treatments in the U.S.Lord Saatchi, who lost his wife, novelist Josephine Hart, to ovarian cancer two years ago admits that his bill is motivated by grief. He has characterized as “medieval” his wife’s cancer treatment, calling the chemotherapy and radiation she received as “degrading and ineffective.” Under British law, physicians must adhere to standard medical practice or face possible prosecution. Saatchi considers the law’s restrictions a serious impediment to new cancer treatments that may offer cancer patients hope.

In Parliamentary debate, government health minister Lord Frederick Howe pointed out one of the serious problems in bringing cancer treatments to the consumer marketplace, the role entrenched medical and government bureaucracies play in delaying the approval of cancer therapies and drugs, an issue relevant to U.S. cancer treatments.

“It still takes an estimated average of 17 years for only 14% of new scientific discoveries to enter day-to-day clinical practice,” Howe said, adding the obvious, “This is not acceptable.”

More Natural Home Remedies that Boost Immune System, Fight Pain

Cherries in basket
Cherries can help to naturally blunt pain.

As noted in our previous post, a cancer diagnosis does not exempt you from the aches and pains of daily life. When these occur, many cancer patients prefer to turn to natural solutions. Many foods are known to help alleviate certain aches and pains and carry the additional benefit of boosting the immune system. Always talk to your Issels treatment team before adopting home remedies or adding supplements to your diet.Here are some additional pain-fighting foods and home remedies:

  • Red grapes are rich in resveratrol which blocks tissue-damaging enzymes and can help ease the back pain associated with cartilage damage. Blueberries, cranberries and red wine are other potent sources of resveratrol and also contain powerful antioxidants that promote a healthy immune system.
  • Soy protein has the potential to decrease osteoarthritis pain. The isoflavones (plant hormones) in soy have anti-inflammatory properties. A daily dose of 40 grams of soy protein is recommended and patience is required. It can take 2 to 3 weeks to take effect and a significant decrease in pain may not be felt for several months, but the effects can be significant with pain levels dropping by as much as 50%. Soy protein is found in tofu, soy milk and edamame.
  • Cherries contain high levels of anthocyanins, powerful antioxidants that decrease inflammation and may help ease arthritis pain.
  • Fish rich in omega 3 fatty acids such as salmon, halibut, snapper and tuna may have a positive effect on chronic pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis, migraines and other autoimmune diseases. For greatest benefit, add fish to your diet 2 or 3 times a week.

Natural Home Remedies that May Aid Cancer Patients in Fighting Pain

Pain management is important for cancer patients.
Pain management is important for cancer patients.

Cancer patients are not immune from the aches and pains of daily life. While cancer pain can frequently overwhelm more mundane pain issues, cancer patients are as susceptible to the headaches, stomach upsets and arthritic twinges that periodically plague most people. In fact, cancer and cancer treatments can add to such woes and even intensify the pain felt. When osteoarthritis pain or stomach upsets strike, potential interaction with cancer treatments and medications may prevent cancer patients from swallowing a couple of Tylenol or downing an antacid tablet.Interest in natural home remedies and foods with curative powers has been increasing in recent years and has attracted the attention of cancer patients who are concerned about possible drug interactions; although some cancer patients are turning to home remedies to avoid downing another pill. Many of the foods used in home remedies carry the additional benefit of boosting the immune system, a plus for cancer patients. It is important to note that even natural foods may interact adversely with some drugs and cancer treatments. Before adopting home remedies, talk to your Issels treatment team.

Some popular home remedies and pain-fighting foods include:

  • Ginger has been used since early times to soothe digestive upsets. It is also an effective pain reliever, blocking a key enzyme responsible for inflammation. In addition to stomach upsets, ginger may help alleviate joint, muscle and arthritis pain. Two to 3 teaspoons of fresh ginger or ginger extract per day are recommended. Add ginger to stir-fry, soup or beverages. Many people enjoy ginger tea.

More tips next time

Immunotherapy Offers Exciting New Direction in Cancer Treatment

Lab Technician Using Microscope
New advances are being made in the treatment of cancer.

Cancer vaccines could be the next big guns in the battle against cancer. Recent strides in immunotherapy offer new hope and promise, bringing us another step closer to the goal of preventing cancer. Numerous clinical trials of therapeutic vaccines are under way. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s 2010 approval of Dendreon Corporation’s prostate cancer vaccine Provenge was heralded as a giant step forward in the use of immunotherapy to treat cancer.Therapeutic cancer vaccines work much like vaccines for measles, polio and other diseases. A disease-specific peptide or protein fragment is injected under the patient’s skin, activating the body’s immune response. As the body rushes to fight the invader, it floods the bloodstream with disease-fighting T and B cells.

Since our founder, world-renowned German cancer specialist Josef M. Issels, M.D., pioneered the use of immunotherapy in treating cancer, among the greatest challenges he and other researchers have faced in developing cancer vaccines is teaching immune responders to recognize cancer cells and developing reliable ways to direct cancer-destroying T-cells to attack tumor sites. Dr. Issels’ development of a comprehensive, holistic approach to cancer treatment using integrative immunotherapy was a milestone in the treatment of advanced cancers.

Preparation of the Issels prostate cancer vaccine uses the same principles adopted by Dendreon’s scientists in the development of Provenge. Our cancer vaccine triggers the activation of tumor-killing T-cells. Antigens released each time a tumor cell is annihilated stimulate the production of new antigen populations that are already programmed to recognize cancer cells, strengthening the attack on tumors. (Click here for a visual explanation of how cancer vaccines work on the Dendreon website.)

Colon Cancer Awareness Month Emphasizes Prevention

Help those in your family get screened for Colon Cancer.
Help those in your family get screened for Colon Cancer.

The reaction in Times Square is about what you’d expect when people walk through a giant inflatable colon for the first time: embarrassed giggles, outright laughter and, yes, fart noises! The giant colon was on display March 1 to promote the start of National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Talk show host Katie Couric, who famously underwent an on-air colonoscopy when she hosted the Today show, led a tweet chat to promote colon cancer education and prevention.One in 20 people will be diagnosed with colon cancer this year, according to the Colon Cancer Alliance. Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in the U.S. and second deadliest, but the prognosis for colon cancer is looking up. When discovered and treated early, colon cancer is highly preventable and has a 90% survival rate.

An aggressive campaign to promote regular colon cancer screenings starting at age 50 (earlier if colon cancer runs in your family) has significantly decreased new cases of colon cancer in the U.S. and decreased the death rate by more than 30%, according to The Doctors. (Click the link to watch The Doctors discuss ways to minimize colon cancer risk.) With increased screenings, 40% of colon cancers are now found early.

Unfortunately, without regular screenings, many colon cancers are not detected until they reach an advanced stage. Lack of early symptoms and/or symptoms that mimic other common intestinal and bowel issues can delay diagnosis of colorectal cancer. Issels Integrative Oncology offers hope for late-stage colon cancer. (Click here to hear about patient remissions.)

Watch our tweets tomorrow for preventative measures that may help lower your colon cancer risk.

Positive Attitude May Benefit Cancer Patients

A positive attitude can help your health.
A positive attitude can help your health.

A positive attitude can help people with chronic disease and may aid cancer patients. Researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College found that people with heart disease, hypertension and asthma could positively affect their health by maintaining a positive attitude.To give your attitude a positive boost:

  • Listen to upbeat music. Elevate your mood by listening to music with a happy, energetic beat. If you’re feeling stressed, music with a soothing rhythm can have a similarly positive effect on your attitude.
  • Count your blessings. Concentrate on the people, things and events in your life for which you are grateful. Negative thoughts fade when you concentrate on happy ones.
  • Express your love and thanks. Tell family and friends that you love them. Thank people who have made a difference in your life. Mend fences that need mending. Say all those things you’ve always meant to tell your loved ones. It is amazing how comforting words can be — for you and those you love.
  • Create a happiness stash. Laughter is the best medicine. Collect things that make you smile or laugh: funny movies, humorous books, great photos, websites of your favorite comedians, hilarious YouTube videos, etc. When your spirit needs a boost, visit your stash.
  • Immerse yourself in at nature. Go outdoors if you can, sit by a window or watch a nature video. Tree leaves blowing in the wind, birds flitting about a bird feeder, bees buzzing between flowers, puffy clouds scudding across the sky — the sights, sounds, beauty and majesty of nature are a balm for the soul.