alternatives to chemo?

Hi,

My sister recently got diagnosed with stage 3 Ovarian Cancer and is considering not doing the clinical trial chemo that her doctor suggests. I am wondering if anyone has experience opting not to do chemo and going the alternative route with diet, Oxygen therapy or perhaps a type of milder more focused type of chemo and if so, what were the results? I would love to hear opinions from anyone who is willing to share their thoughts about the importance of doing traditional chemotherapy for this type/stage of cancer.

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I did not do immediate chemo, but I have very early stage disease and grade 2 cells, and do monthly tumor markers. You don't mention the grade, but even I would not wing it at stage III.

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She needs to understand the seriousness of Stage III ovarian cancer. Stage III is advanced disease which has spread well beyond the ovaries. Eighty-percent of patients who have carboplatin or cisplatin and taxol immediately after diagnosis go into remission. I'm guessing that the trial would add a third drug to that combination?

The prognosis can vary with the exact type of tumor she has. Does she have that information? (For instance, is it serous papillary, or clear cell, or endometroid, or something else?) Has she been told what Grade it is? Grade ranges from Grade 1 (least aggressive) to Grade 3 (most aggressive).

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i was diag with stage 4-i don't remember the trip to the hosp i don;t remember the first 2 week in the hosp stage 3 is very serious- i would request the most aggressive treatment that her doctor would offer her and start it immediately its a tough road but one has to start asap -and trust the choices your medical team comes up with-there is no looking back-best of luck, my thoughts are with you

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I am stage IIIC. This is considered advanced ovarian cancer. I had carbo and taxol and went into remission for three years. Then I had recurrence and had carbo and gemzar. After a year and a half, it is most likely back from CT and CA125 and will do more chemo. Yes chemo is yucky, but it is keeping me alive. In between the chemo sessions I feel great. I think you sister is crazy not to do the chemo route. Where is there literature or proof that the other ways work? There isn't any. I hate to say it, but your sister has a death wish if she does not do chemo. I know this sound gloomy and I am a very positive person. She should really reconsider.

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Stage 3 of ovarian cancer is serious. Ovarian cancer claims more lives than all gynecological cancers together. The decision she makes will determine her change of surviving. I have early stage and went through chemo to give me the best prognosis. It was rough but I made it. However, I am approaching my after effects with naturopathic remedies to rebuild my body.

If she chooses to proceed strictly with diet and smaller dose of chemo, she may not have the best change of arresting the aggressiveness of her cancer.

I wish you both luck in choosing the best option for your sister. It is a hard one to make. I can tell you that I wish I didn't have to do chemo, but I don't regret that decision.

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I can understand that your sister does not want to go the chemo route, but diet alone and supplements are not going to kill the cancer at this stage.
A good alternative would be to go to an integrative cancer clinic like Dr. Keith Block's, that's what I would do first.

http://blockmd.com/

and read his book:
"Life Over Cancer"

They do use conventional treatment as well as alternatives at this center.

The most important thing IMO for your sister is to do her homework/research before making a decision one way or the other and get different opinions.

Good luck to your sister!

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I agree with Mom82. I was dx IIC in Sept 08 and did IV/IP chemo because my gynonc said it was my best chance for a cure. I had a recurrence August '10 and struggled with the gynonc recommendation to go right back on chemo.

I'm now seeing Dr. Block and feel he has the exact right approach for me. I've been on the diet since September (no problem since I had eaten well for years). Also using many supplements and daily exercise. He's monitoring my CA125, new growth on my spleen and my general health. We have a plan for more chemo if and when we feel it is needed. I think Dr. Block is a great choice for your sister since she, like me, would rather try alternatives first. However, Dr Block integrates all his wonderful approaches WITH chemo, when needed. Best of luck, Barbara

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If you would like to shorten your life sooner by all means not opt for chemo , I do not believe in medding with my health, I often find on here and everywhere else people who say they " never do chemo and want all natural" often then try chemo as a " last resort" in your stage I would never do this but to each his own ...
Good Luck

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I am stage IIIc. Although I believe in the effectiveness of alternate health practices, I saw nothing convincing me to use it for Ovarian Cancer. I couldn't wait to begin chemo and I'm glad I went that route. I DO use some herbal treatments (curcumin) and vitamins to assist in maintenance and diminish the side effects of chemo. Please help your sister research carefully. There's plenty of information (and misinformation) out there. She should definitely seek a second, and perhaps a third opinion.

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Fierywoman,
I agree with all of the above. You can do chemo and work with an integrative medicine doctor at the same time doing therapies that will help support the immune system while you are destroying it with chemo. There are all kinds of alternative therapies that can help. I use reiki, massage, acupuncture and meditation. Visualization therapy is good for the body and the mind. An integrative med doc will help you with getting your vitamin and mineral levels in balance, can help with diet and things like IV vit C therapy if you choose. There are oncs out there that are supportive of using alternative medicine in conjunction with chemo. Bottom line, at stage 3 she will likely die from the cancer with out any chemotherapy. It's a nasty, nasty disease.

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I also have combined many alternative treatments (nutritionist, massage, acupuncture, meditation, yoga) with my chemo treatments. I believe they have made the side effects less and my odds better. ALSO, keep in mind that chemo is not ideal for your body (or mind), but it is not that bad for many of us. I just finished my 9th round of carbo/taxol and my "ugly days" where I feel bad are just days 3,4, and half of 5. Other than that, i feel about 90% -100% during the off weeks.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for cancer, but my team of doctors, alternative and western, agree that the best way to survive is by combining all the methods! Good luck!

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Also, make sure you ask an oncology nutritionist about Carcumin and broccoli seed supplements as they both have shown to increase the effectiveness of the chemo (and hopefully mean she has to have less rounds). Also, is she BRAC positive? You? both these supplements have been recommended to me and my BRAC positive family members as preventative measures.

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I will only chime in that being staged with advanced disease would seem insane to withhold chemo. Without chemo she would be inviting a horrible end.

Chemo, as bad as the side effects may be are short in comparison to the sad stories of the extreme suffering of end stage ovarian cancer.

If there was ever a time to be a good sister, this is it! Please encourage your sister to talk to more than one oncologist about the benefits of aggressive treatment. It can save her life and give her years she may not have without it.

There are many women here who are living testament to having quality of life, even at this stage BUT only with traditional first line chemo treatment. I would think that the fear of death would be much worse than the fear of chemo!

In the end, each person will choose and it is her decision.

My best to you both.

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I will also echo everyone else's replies. Before I had ovarian cancer, my brother was diagnosed with colon cancer. He had some conventional treatment but mainly put his faith in alternative treatment, most especially diet. He died and left the rest of us bitter that he did not aggressively fight with all the weapons available. So I always shudder when someone mentions trying an alternative route.

I was diagnosed with IIIC disease in 2007 and have been in and out of chemo since then. I will admit that there are many rugged days but none have been as bad as what I feared they would be. You learn to cope and you get through it. I'm on chemo now and working full time and enjoying a great quality of life. Early on my oncologist said that we treat ovarian cancer like a chronic disease. I've found that this is a good way to look at this disease. Urge your sister to get treatment. Best wishes, Janet

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A little more detail regarding her condition and reasons for not wanting the recommended treatment might be helpful, you've proposed quite an array of options.

Regarding the recommended clinical trial... there is no reason why she has to go straight into a trial. 80% of advanced ovarian cancer patients get a complete response (that means there is no evidence of disease at the end of the treatment not that it is cured and gone forever) with the standard protocol of Taxol and Carboplatin chemotherapy. The optimal choice is getting IV and IP (intraperitoneal) treatments but they are slightly more difficult to do. Many women have good results with plain old IV Taxol/Carbo if that is what you refer to as "milder" but I would have to say there is nothing mild about chemo in any way, shape or form but it is not as bad as you might imagine. There are many predrugs that prevent the nausea and vomiting and even the drop in blood counts.

Even with aggressive chemotherapy the odds are not great for advanced stage ovarian cancer patients. That said, we all have choices in what we do and if hers is to do alternative treatment and she can accept and live (or not) with the outcome then it is her choice. As long as she isn't expecting to get the same results as she might with a more traditional regime. Make sure she does her research and fully understands the severity of this disease. It manages to come back after the strongest chemotherapy regimes, don't think for a minute that dietary supplements are going to scare it off.

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I have a friend in Europe whose wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. After surgery she declined chemotherapy and opted for natural treatments. A few months ago I heard they made the trip to New York to take her to Memorial Sloan Kettering for treatment. Her cancer had metastasized to her bones while she was tinkering around with alternative treatments. Sadly it is now too late for chemo to have the effect it would have had if it had been administered in a timely fashion.

Time is of the essence here. Surgery will remove the majority of the cancer cells but many will remain. Those remaining cells are multiplying as you read this. They have to be hit hard and soon.

If she decides to forego chemotherapy now she should understand that she will not have the same options later.

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CHEMO CHEMO CHEMO - I do supplemental treatments - reiki, accupressure, guided imagery, and eat very healthy - lots of anti oxidants etc. But that alone is not enough - foregoing chemo is like suicide (sorry for being so dramatic) but this IS SERIOUS!

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Thank you so very much to everyone who responded. Your heartfelt words made the decisions clear. I have forwarded your responses to my sister, who will hopefully be online soon herself. I wish you all the very best grace in your journeys. You are all such strong, supportive caring spirits. Many many Thanks.

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If she hasn't already, she might consider a free consultation with a doctor at www.sanoviv.com where they have an integrative medicine oncology program. Also she might want to talk with Cancer Treatment Center of America, also very holistic but "integrative" also. Maybe she could get a clearer idea of what would fit for her own individual circumstances. Best of all circumstances is is probably NOT either/or, but both. Let's get the BEST of all approaches toward wellness.

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