• Mom has stage IV colon cancer, spread to liver. How does everyone feel about alternative medicine?

    Asked by BettyBoopNY on Saturday, August 25, 2012

    Mom has stage IV colon cancer, spread to liver. How does everyone feel about alternative medicine?

    My mom has had a hepatic port to receive chemo directly to the liver. Now she has jaundice and pedal edema. DRs say the hepatic port wasn't effective. I've been researching milk thistle. any thoughts?

    6 Answers from the Community

    6 answers
    • FreeBird's Avatar

      Sad to read about that tough diagnosis. My thoughts on complimentary or alternative medicine are that, if you still wish to combat the cancer, it should be used as an addition to standard care, not by itself. Also, it should be discussed with the doctor to make sure it doesn't interfere with any treatments. Use their Hippocratic oath-- first, do no harm. If you're going to suggest herbs for mom, then discover later on that they cause more harm than good, that wouldn't be fun.

      I have considered complimentary and alternative medicine for my dad who is also dealing with a stage IV cancer involving a secondary liver cancer, and I'm still open to it if there's something with a solid history of results. I don't have much time or willingness to turn my dad into a guinea pig and experiment with various things. But if there's something that makes sense, I will definitely look at it and talk with him about it. If it was my own body, I would be more open to experimentation because I would be in control of the whole picture, including diet, and I'd approach it differently. Whereas, with helping dad, I'm concerned with his concept of quality of life and his wishes, what makes him happy. Sometimes healthy food is whatever you can get someone to eat. Chocolate cake can be good "right now" medicine.

      One glance at the internet reveals that the snake oil salesman business is still alive and well. There is an abundance of books, supplements, ointments, and cure-alls on the market, that are really garbage. On the other hand, if you can afford it, there are also doctors who integrate complimentary and alternative medicine into their practice. Someone who makes it their lifelong discipline, and who also has an education in understanding the human body, may be in a better position to offer advice and save a lot of time. I don't have the funds to go down that road.

      Here are a few information sources on complimentary medicine from the mainstream.

      At the point where your mom has jaundice, I think the tumors may be interfering with her bile ducts. If there's no direct involvement with the bile ducts themselves, then the pressure has to come off of those bile ducts. If the jaundice is causing discomfort, one thing they do sometimes is insert little tubes or stents that allow the bile to flow normally, depending on what's happening with the liver.

      Dad has edema in the ankles and feet also, that was pretty bad at one point. We found that by making sure there was adequate protein going into the diet, and by elevating his legs when he's sitting, that it helped with swelling. Protein helps to hold the fluid in your vessels, and low blood protein can cause that edema around your lower legs.

      Best wishes for you and your mom's health. Is she able to eat well?

      over 8 years ago
    • PhillieG's Avatar

      Is your Mom at Sloan by any chance? I had a HAI pump put in 8 years ago and luckily had success. I'm sorry your Mom's had trouble. I do not have personal experience with milk thistle or the alternatives but I often have seem the topic come up on the American Cancer Society's website www.csn.cancer.org in the Colon Cancer Forum. You might find info there...

      over 8 years ago
    • nancyjac's Avatar

      IMO, alternative medicine is an oxymoron. Milk thistle is not a medicine. Herbs and supplements have not undergone any clinical testing and have no scientific evidence for providing any medical benefit.

      What this really comes down to is making a conscious decision between active treatment with the current standard of care vs. palliative care to provide the best quality of life without medical treatment for the disease. What I find so heartbreaking are cancer patients and there loved ones who dwell on "curing" with things that don't cure rather than focusing on making the most of what time the patient has remaining if he/she chooses to not have medical treatment.

      over 8 years ago
    • Oneflame's Avatar

      Hi BettyBoopNY,

      You and I seem to be in the same boat. I am 47 and have a 70 yr old mom diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer, which has spread to her liver and ovaries, 7 weeks ago. She started chemo 1 week later and has done 2 rounds. She was supposed to start round three last Tues., but she had too low a platelet count to start. her doctors had to give her a platelet transfusion, then wait for her to build back up. She also has had an allergic reaction to one of the main chemo drugs, I'm not sure which, so her doctors are trying to re-group to decide what to do next.

      I am also very interested in alternative treatment, mainly diet and exercise. I have research the Hippocrates Institute methods, the Gerson therapy methods, as well as other raw foods methods. Some even say that THC from hemp plants can help heal the cancer naturally. Not smoking, but ingesting. I would recommend you contact the organization, www.Beat Cancer.org They are a clearing house for info on alternative methods, that have been scientifically proven to work. They offer this info outside the mainstream medical establishment, which is largely funded by the pharmaceutical companies. They offer free, or by donation, counseling to cancer patients to review ALL their options.

      My challenge has been that my mom is very skeptical of alternative methods. She has not done the research to investigate them, but still believes they are not based on real science. The AMA has done a lot of work to suppress the information and evidence of sincere scientists who have found cures to help people heal their whole systems, not just attack the symptoms! I have the info for her, but not sure my mom will use it. Good luck. I would like to hear how things go with you and your mom. I think we are in a transitional time medically, and the establishment is being challenged in their for profit not patient thinking and system. Keep up the good work!

      over 8 years ago
    • abrub's Avatar

      Memorial Sloan Kettering has an Integrative Medicine unit that has information on proven supplemental therapies, such as Milk Thistle for liver strengthening. While the alternatives may not cure cancer, if they can make your mother more comfortable, then they are of value.

      Of note, based on Integrative Medicine at MSK, I am on Milk Thistle, which restored my liver enzymes to normal for the first time in years. CoQ10 enhanced the effects of my Lipitor, so my blood fats are much improved. The SuperCoriolus PSK maitake mushroom extract is approved as a chemotherapy treatment in Japan, and is commonlygiven in conjunction with 5FU. Here, there is research that shows it may work against colorectal cancers.

      Specifically regarding Milk Thistle: I was advised to start at 150 mg twice a day for the first week; then up it to 300 mg in the morning, 150 mg pm for the second week, and ultimately, 300 mg twice a day. With my counts still a bit high, tho vastly improved, we then added another capsule in the morning. (800 mg/day is the max recommended dosage.) I'll be having more bloodwork done in a couple of weeks.

      I think it's worth a shot. I was certainly skeptical when I was given the Milk Thistle, but I saw results.

      over 8 years ago
    • Jane's Avatar

      My colon cancer spread to my liver also. I had "shaped-beam" radiation. It took a few days, with no sickness and no side effects and the tumors were gone. My cancer seems to come back every 2 years and so I have had it several times. I had the original treatment at the university of Rochester in Rochester NY but there are other places where they can provide this treatment. I currently go to Shands hospital at the Univeristy of Florida in Gainesville.

      over 8 years ago

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