Presently used chemotherapy drugs have a high rate of failure. This was brought out in an editorial in the January 10, 2002, issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, when it was noted that 20 years of clinical trials using chemotherapy on advanced lung cancer have yielded survival improvement of only 2 months. This editorial pointed out that while new chemotherapy regimens appear to be improving survival, when these same regimens are tested on a wider range of cancer patients, the results have been disappointing. In other words, oncologists at a single institution may obtain a 40-50% response rate in a tightly controlled study, but when these same chemotherapy drugs are administered in a real world setting, the response rates decline to only 17-27%.
The editorial went on to state that new approaches beyond chemotherapy are required and suggested additional mechanisms of fighting cancer that have been discussed in this protocol. There have been few clinical trials however, to determine if these adjuvant approaches actually improve survival in human cancer patients.
In fairness, we should point out that lymphomas (Hodgkin's, non-Hodgkin's, and Burkitt's), myeloma, hairy cell leukemia, and chronic lymphocytic and certain other types of leukemia are all now responding better to chemotherapy than 30 years ago. Also, depending on the timing of treatment, certain institutions are seeing better results with breast and early-stage lung cancers.
Our objective in conveying this large body of data is to provide chemotherapy patients with a better opportunity to beat the cancer and minimize toxic side effects. As you have read, there are a number of drugs, nutrients, and hormones described in the scientific literature. We advocate that you follow a protocol based on a wide range of individual considerations, including the results of the chemosensitivity and immunohistochemistry testing recommended at the beginning of this protocol. Such information about your tumor cells obtained by these tests will help determine what therapies are most likely to work for you. In addition to these tumor cell tests, and based on your particular oncologic and medical situation, you and your healthcare team will need to design a program specific to your needs and tolerances. The following is an outline of the steps described in this protocol:
Additional Information on Cancer Treatment
- Decide on an appropriate chemotherapy regimen. Chemosensitivity and immunohistochemistry tumor cell tests can help you and your physician make a more informed decision.
- Be certain your physician understands the importance of guarding against hypoxia. That means keeping your hematocrit and hemoglobin in the upper ranges of normal. Since chemotherapy often induces anemia, the drug Procrit along with supplemental iron is often required.
- Based on the type of tumor, consider asking your physician to prescribe a COX-2 inhibiting drug, such as Celebrex, Vioxx, or Lodine.
- Based on findings from the immunohistochemistry test, if your tumor expresses the K-Ras oncogene, consider high-dose statin drug therapy such as lovastatin (80 mg a day).
- The following supplements might help block growth signals used by cancer cells to escape eradication by chemotherapy. These supplements have also displayed antiangiogenesis properties. Some of these supplements may be best initiated 3 weeks after cessation of chemotherapy if one believes that antioxidants will protect cancer cells from the effects of chemotherapy drug(s):
- Soy Extract (40% isoflavones), five 700-mg capsules taken 4 times a day. The only soy extract providing this high potency of soy isoflavones is a product called Ultra Soy. Note that isoflavones from soy have antioxidant properties.
- Curcumin, 900 mg, with 5 mg of Bioperine (an alkaloid from Piper nigrum), 3 capsules 2-4 times a day. Super Curcumin with Bioperine is a formulated product that contains this recommended dosage.
- Use caution when combining curcumin with other chemotherapy drugs. Do not take curcumin with the chemotherapy drugs Irinotecan, Camptosar, or CPT-11. Watch for NSAID-like side effects such as gastric ulceration because curcumin is a COX inhibitor. Do not take curcumin if you have a biliary tract obstruction. Also note that curcumin is a potent antioxidant.
- Green tea extract, five 350-mg capsules with each meal (3 meals a day). Each capsule should be standardized to provide a minimum of 100 mg of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). It is the EGCG fraction of green tea that has shown the most active anticancer effects. These are available in a decaffeinated form for persons who are sensitive to caffeine or who want to take the less stimulating decaffeinated green tea extract capsules in the evening dose. Note that green tea is a potent antioxidant.
- To possibly enhance the efficacy of certain chemotherapy drugs:
- Fish oil, 8-12 Super EPA/DHA caps throughout the day.
- L-theanine, 500 mg dissolved in water or juice twice a day or 500 mg in capsular form twice per day.
- The following natural supplements may reduce side effects and healthy tissue damage caused by chemotherapy. All of these supplements except shark liver oil are potent antioxidants:
- Vitamin E, 400 IU a day of vitamin E succinate (dry powder natural vitamin E).
- Vitamin C, 4000-12,000 mg throughout the day.
- Coenzyme Q10, 200-300 mg daily in a softgel oil capsule for maximum absorption. (Refer to cautions about CoQ10 and chemotherapy.)
- Melatonin, 3-50 mg at bedtime. Dose may be reduced after chemotherapy ends if too much morning drowsiness occurs. After several months, most cancer patients take 3-10 mg of melatonin at bedtime.
- Se-methylselenocysteine (SeMC), 200-400 mcg daily.
- Whey protein concentrate isolate, 30-60 grams daily. Note: Cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy should consider taking whey protein concentrate at least 10 days before beginning therapy and during therapy and then continuing with the whey protein for at least 30 days after completion of the therapy.
- Shark liver oil, 200 mg alkyglycerols, 5 capsules daily for 30 days.
- Digestive enzyme capsules may reduce the gas and bloating associated with high soy intake. Taking a 125-mg chewable tablet of Gas-X with each dose of soy might also be helpful.
- Ask your oncologist to consider prescribing immune-enhancing drugs suggested in this protocol, such as Leukine and alpha interferon or IL-2 (along with a retinoid drug).
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, National Institutes of Health National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD 20892 and NIH Publication No. 94-1136.
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