Sunday, 21 September 2014

Why Oncologists do not support alternative therapy as the only treatment of cancer?

You will always find oncologists not supporting traditional medicines and other stuff, as the main or only treatment for cancer (Mark this word - 'main or only treatment'. No oncologist will have a problem, if the patient takes alternate therapy in conjunction with standard scientifically proven treatment, though it is discouraged, as it can interfere with effects of standard drugs). There is a clear reason to it.

Study of cancer does not occur in a day. An Oncologist spends a total of 12 to 14 years in becoming an oncologist (MBBS + MS/MD + Surgical/ Medical Oncology). A background of MBBS and MS/MD helps in understanding cancer better. It took years to really understand how a cancer cell forms, reading all the research, trials, theories and everything; and most importantly, rationalizng them. And it is after this knowledge is imbibed, any oncologist knows very well that nothing works on a cancer cell. Cancer cells have IRREPARABLE genetic mutations (changes in a gene pattern) in them. By no means on earth, can one repair those genetic changes. They are permanent. When a gene rearranges itself, the original info is lost. Forever. It is not like a computer, where you press the 'back' key and you go one step back. It can never happen. Once you understand this concept, you will realize that, once a cancer cell is formed, you cannot get the original cell back from it; that cancer cell will keep on multiplying and all that you can do to a cancer cell is - kill it. If you achieve killing all cancer cells in body, you may achieve a cure. If some cancer cells survive somewhere, they will cause a recurrence. The Oncology that we practice, is based on logic. Just look at us - we are so crazy - we operate and knock off the whole organ, even if cancer is small - why?
A small lump in breast and we remove the whole breast (just an example).
A cancer in stomach, and we remove most of it.
A small ulcer in mouth, and we remove half the jaw bone or even more.
Why?? It is logic. We know it is an overkill, but we are so afraid of a cancer cell that we want to make sure the entire cancer cells in that area are removed.
Then we are worried, what about the cancer cells moving in blood and elsewhere? So we give chemo. Since cancer cells are absolutely normal cells, the only difference being they multiply fast, there is no way to identify them. So chemo drugs kills all fast multiplying cells, causing collateral damage. Cancer cells are killed. But cells of hair, which multiply fast (and deposit keratin), are affected. Cells of inner part of mouth are affected (oral ulcers), cells on intestine are affected (diarrhoea), wbc's get affected (neutropenia and fever), systems get depressed (weakness).

Butt why, why all this?? Just because we have no means of differentiating a cancer cell from a normal cell. But we want to kill cancer cells. So even at the cost of some damage of normal cells, we generally bombard everything to make sure cancer cells get cleared.

It is this concept, which takes time to imbibe. And it is for this reason, that oncologists, who during their degree studies, have read all this, and know it, that they do not support alternate treatments. Oncologists treat cancer AFTER they have achieved understanding of how it occurs and spreads. People who preach alternate treatments, by no means, have studied how a cancer occurs, nor have read (some might have read). They have just anecdotal knowledge and passed on knowledge that give this and it may work in cancer. Most people practicing alternate treatments do not even know how does their medicine act and what will it do to a cancer cell. If they say, they will 'cure' a cancer cell, they are fooling, as even God cannot do it. As I mentioned earlier, all you can do to a cancer cell is - kill it. And it is a known fact, that many alternate medications contain steroids, which temporarily can slow down cancer growth and also produce a 'good feeling'. But that causes more harm than benefit.

It is common to see people selling medicines which 'increase' immunity. This is sheer nonsense. There is no tablet in the world which will increase your immunity (and there is no tablet in the world, which will reduce weight either, one has to burn calories for that). Immunity depends on body's inner strength and a healthy well being with a balanced state of mind. But these alternate treatment preachers, take advantage of hopeless situation of a cancer patient, especially those in terminal stages, giving false hopes, and extract money from them. I had one of my own patients, who confessed of having brought a bottle of ten capsules for Rs. 5000/ at least five times from a local hakim!! Can you believe this! He spent 25000 in those capsules which he does not even know what it contains.

If someone tells you, he has found a cure for cancer and his tablets work, think twice.

If you really want to know, what alternate treatments do to a cancer patient, just come one day and sit at the registration counter of Tata Memorial Centre. Practically, every third or fourth patient coming to Tata, has taken some alternate treatment for cancer for a few months and then the cancer progressed to such a stage, that it is incurable now (it would have been curable earlier), and we usually end up sending them back home the same day, as it has progressed beyond all forms of treatment in those few months. Don't take my words for this. Go for yourself and see.

No oncologist has any grudge against alternate medicines, we just request, why don't you prove it! It takes a few hundred stage 4 cancer patients with their due permission (after ethical committee permission) and some years, thats all!! One homeopathy centre chap from Mumbai was spamming this forum with homeopathy medicines. I had to ban him. Since he was from Mumbai, he traced my mobile number, called me and abused me a lot on phone. I didnt retaliate, I just told him, I trust you, I will help you conduct a trial, I will start it for you, lets do it and you can prove your medicine is working; but he continued to abuse me and spoke irrelevantly, telling me "You Oncologists dont trust us, you do not care for patients, you dont want progress, you just want a dying patient's money, its because of you all cancer is still not curable and blah.... blah..." and the language he used was not even suitable for a doctor. I never lost my cool. But he didnt agree for a trial and why?? Even he knows, his medicines don't work.

I am not saying all oncologists are good.
I am not saying that everything that an oncologist does is correct; there are many errors they also learn from. Life is a continuous process of growth and learning.
I am not saying oncologists are not corrupt. Many of them are very money minded and do not have a human touch.
All I am saying is, if someone claims treatment and 'cure' of cancer from his alternate medicines, just be aware. Try to think. Our discussion is between alternate treatment and standard scientifically proven treatment over last 80 years, which has shown it's result in the form of almost 80 percent overall ten year survival rate from breast cancer in the West! India is nowhere near that and we have a long way to go. If we give in to unproven treatments, we will never achieve that. It will take us a minimum 30 to 40 years to achieve the same, provided, atleast 75% patients report on time and atleast 75% patients take standard treatment on time. Till then, we will keep on losing a large number of women to breast cancer, who end up late or who do not take standard treatment.

1 comment:

  1. Very well written Sumeet. People who are diagnosed with this shocking and chronic illness often panic and look for anything that will at the least make them feel like they can concur this by not having to go through the temporary (and I'd like to stress on TEMPORARY here) side effects. It is very important to be able to communicate the reality of treatments and availability of the RIGHT treatment options.
    You are so right in sharing this and informing people about being cautious.

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