Table of Contents
When a person is diagnosed with cancer, they are likely to hear about the many different ways to treat the cancer or relieve the symptoms and side effects. Some of these methods vary greatly from the standard protocols for cancer treatment. Alternative or complementary methods can include the use of vitamins, herbal supplements, special diets, acupuncture or massage therapy.
The terms alternative and complementary can be confusing because not everyone uses the terms in the same manner. According to the American Cancer Society the term complementary refers to methods or medicines that are used in conjunction with regular medical treatment. Alternative medicine is a form treatment used in place of regular medical treatment.
Complementary methods: are not used as a “cure” for cancer, most often used to alleviate the symptoms and side effects patient experience as a result of standard cancer treatment. Some complementary methods used include meditation for stress reduction, acupuncture for pain relief and peppermint tea for relief of nausea, along with several others. Complementary methods are used to make a cancer patient feel better and to improve quality of life.
Alternative treatments: used in lieu of standard medical treatment and have not been proven to be safe or effective during clinical trials. Alternative methods could be extremely dangerous and have life-threatening consequences. Any type of delay or interruption of standard medical treatment could cause the cancer to spread to other parts of the body.
Decisions regarding how to treat and manage cancer are the responsibility of the patient. When considering whether to use complementary or alternative methods, it is best to consult with the cancer care team prior to beginning. A physician can answer questions and provide a patient with useful information about the advantages and disadvantages associated with alternative and complementary treatments.
The survival rates for people with pancreatic cancer have been improving from decade to decade, however the disease is still considered incurable. The American Cancer Society reports the survival rate at one year is 20%, with all stages of pancreatic cancer combined, and the five year survival rate at 4%. Low survival rates are attributed to the fact that less than 10% of pancreatic tumors are confined to one area, in most instances the malignancy has progressed to a stage where it is inoperable.
It is recommended to increase the odds of survival and improve outcome, a patient seek out a major medical center with extensive experience in treating pancreatic cancer, preferably the institutions that perform more than 20 Whipple procedures each year.