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Cervical cancer

CISS relies strongly in its evaluations below on impartial analyses by the International Cochrane Collaboration and the British Medical Journal’s Clinical Evidence Group – two groups of researchers who specialise in Evidence Based Medicine.

Conventional medicine supports the paradigm that the tumour is the first stage of cancer, therefore, treating and removing the cancer should cure the cancer. Unfortunately statistics will show this is rarely the case. Conventional medicine also advocates treatment should only be used if supported by appropriate clinical trials showing efficacy. In fact evidence based medicine suggests that the only reliable evidence needs to come from properly run randomised controlled trials. Again, with conventional cancer treatment, this is generally not the case.

The following is based on the conventional cancer paradigm.

The cervix is the lower, narrow end of the uterus (the organ where a foetus grows). The cervix leads from the uterus to the vagina (birth canal).

The main types of cervical cancer are squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma. Squamous cell carcinoma begins in the thin, flat cells that line the cervix. Adenocarcinoma begins in cervical cells that make mucous and other fluids.

Long lasting infections with certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV) cause almost all cases of cervical cancer. Vaccines that protect against infection with these types of HPV can greatly reduce the risk of cervical cancer. Having a pap test to check for abnormal cells in the cervix or a test to check for HPV can find cells that may become cervical cancer. These cells can be treated before cancer forms.

Cervical cancer can usually be cured if it is found and treated in the early stages (National Cancer Institute).

Risks:

The exact cause of cervical cancer isn’t known but some forms of the human papillomavirus (HPV) or genital wart virus have been linked to cervical cancer.

A vaccine is now available that protects women from the HPV types responsible for 70% of cervical cancers. The vaccine is offered free to girls and boys aged 12-13 years through a school-based national vaccination program. The vaccine doesn’t prevent all cervical cancers so it’s important for all women to have regular Pap tests. In fact the best way to lesson your likelihood of developing cervical cancer is to have regular Pap tests. This simple test can pick up early changes to the cervix that can be treated before cancer develops. All women who have ever had sex should have a Pap test every two years, sooner if their doctor advises (NSW Cancer Council).

Smoking can also be a risk factor for cervical cancer, smoking produces chemicals that may damage the cells of the cervix and make cancer more likely to develop. Quitting smoking, or better still never starting, will reduce your risk of cervical cancer (NSW Cancer Council).

Signs and Symptoms:

In the early stages cervical cancer usually has no symptoms. The only way to know if there are abnormal cells in the cervix that may develop into cervical cancer is by have a screening test.

If there are symptoms present they usually include:

  • Vaginal bleeding between periods, after menopause, or after sexual intercourse.
  • Pain during sexual intercourse.
  • An unusual vaginal discharge.
  • Heavy periods or periods that last longer than usual.
  • Excessive tiredness.
  • Leg pain or swelling.
  • Lower back pain.

These symptoms can also be caused by many other conditions. Please go and see your doctor if you are worried (NSW Cancer Council).

Treatment:

Treatment for cervical cancer will depend on the type and stage of your cervical cancer which your doctor will explain to you. It can include some or all of the following:

  1. Surgery – for cervical cancer is recommended for women who have small tumours that are confined to the cervix. The type of surgery depends on how far within the cervix the cancer has spread. Types of surgery include the following:
  2. Hysterectomy – is when the uterus and other parts of the reproductive system are removed. This can be either a total hysterectomy, where the uterus and cervix are removed (this ca be done by keyhole surgery) or; a radical hysterectomy where the uterus, the cervix, the soft tissue around the cervix and about 2cm of the upper vagina are removed. A radical hysterectomy may cause nerve damage which can affect bladder and bowel function.
  3. Bilateral salpingo – oophorectomy – this surgery is when the ovaries and fallopian tubes are removed in addition to the hysterectomy, depending on how far the cancer has spread.
  • Trachelectomy – this is the removal of the cervix and some surrounding tissue. The uterus is left in place. This is not a common procedure, but it may be used in young women with early stage cancer (a tumour smaller than 2cm) who would like the option of being able to have children later.
  1. Removing Lymph Nodes – during a hysterectomy, your Dr may decide to remove some lymph nodes in the pelvic and/or abdominal area to see if the cancer has spread beyond the cervix. If cancer is found in the lymph nodes, your Dr may recommend radiotherapy (NSW Cancer Council).

Please note: there is little evidence that cancer with surgery has any benefit on increased 5 year survival except in cases where the tumour is in a life threatening position (The Efficacy of Cancer Surgery, D.Benjamin) or very early stage.

  1. Radiotherapy – uses x-rays to kill cancer cells or injure them so they cannot multiply. Women with cervical cancer that has spread into tissues or lymph nodes surrounding the cervix will usually have radiotherapy in combination with chemotherapy. Many women with cervical cancer have both external and internal radiotherapy.
  2. External radiotherapy – x-rays from a machine are directed at the cervix and other parts of the body that need it. The treatment itself is painless and will not make you radioactive.
  3. Internal radiotherapy (brachytherapy) – is when a radiation source is placed inside the body on or near the cancer, making the radiation less likely to affect the surrounding organs. You usually have 3-4 sessions over 2-4 weeks and each treatment takes a few hours (NSW Cancer Council).

Please note: radiation has been shown to reduce recurrence with many types of cancer but this rarely results in increased survival. (The efficacy of radiotherapy, DJ Benjamin).

  1. Chemotherapy – the use of toxic drugs to kill the cancer cell or stop them from growing. Research by Morgan et al conclude that chemotherapy in cervical cancer gives only a 12% five year survival benefit.

The above therapies all come with risks and side effects which should be discussed in detail by your treating physician. For a complete comprehensive overview of conventional treatments used for bladder cancer with up to date information on % effectiveness of each treatment on mortality and morbidity, please follow this link to The Ralph Moss Reports.

Conventional medicine supports the paradigm that the tumour is the first stage of cancer, therefore, treating and removing the cancer should cure the cancer. Unfortunately statistics will show this is rarely the case. Conventional medicine also advocates treatment should only be used if supported by appropriate clinical trials showing efficacy, again, with conventional cancer treatment, this is generally not the case.

Other paradigms believe cancer is a systemic disease and the tumour is in fact a late stage symptom of that disease. Therefore; treating the disease should be systemic and wholistic (meaning treating the whole body) and should include the following components:

  1. Cause no harm
  2. Wholistic (whole body)
  3. Look after our health. This latter paradigm is supported by CISS (See Introduction to CISS)

Alternative cancer therapies generally support the above 3 components. There are approximately 200 alternative cancer therapies that have been shown or anecdotally reported to help a person with cancer have better morbidity and longer mortality. What is important in any cancer treatment is to both understand and believe in your chosen therapy.

There are approximately 200 alternative cancer therapies that have been shown or anecdotally reported to help a person with cancer have reduced morbidity and mortality. The following are those with the most scientific evidence for benefit. What is important in any cancer treatment is to both understand and believe in your chosen therapy.

  • Psychotherapy

In one RCT 48 inoperable cancer patients, including 10 women with cervical cancer, were randomised into two groups: one group received psychotherapy and the matched control group did not. Those who received the psychotherapy experienced a 64% increased survival overall, with a 15% increased survival among those with cervical cancer.

References: (1. Eysenck, HJ & Grossarth-Maticek, R. Creative Novation Behaviour Therapy as a Prophylactic Treatment for Cancer and Coronary Heart Disease: Part II – Effects of Treatment. Behav Research and Therapy 1991; 29 (1): 17-31.)

Although RCTs with only 48 participants are rarely reliable because of the difficulty of ensuring properly matched groups after randomisation, those running this trial formed pairs of women matched according to age, smoking, cholesterol level, blood pressure and personality type from a larger group before randomising them into pairs, thus ensuring properly matched groups after randomisation.

  • Immunotherapy

Several RCTs have shown significant benefits from Iscador therapy on women with different stages of cervical cancer.

References:

Fellmer KE: A clinical trial of Iscador: follow-up treatment of irradiated genital carcinomata for the prevention of recurrences. Br Homeopath J 57: 43-7, 1968.

Fellmer Ch, Fellmer KE: [Follow-up treatment of irradiated genital carcinoma with the Viscum album preparation “Iscador”]. Krebsarzt 2: 175-85, 1966.

Although not based on RCTs the most successful therapy for late stage cancers including cervical cancer was Issels’ Whole Body Therapy that focussed on restoring the body’s immune systems.

It was estimated that a representative sample (252) of Issels’ patients with late stage cancers, of whom 42 (17%) had late stage uterine cancer, showed a 16.6% five year survival following his treatment and 15% 15 years survival. Many of the women with uterine cancer were among those who survived 15 years.

References: Issels, J. Immunotherapy in Progressive Metastatic Cancer – A Fifteen-Year Follow-up. Clinical Trials Journal, August 1970: 357-365 – editorial by Phillips S. Dr Joseph Issels and the Ringberg Klinik. Clinical Trials Journal. August 1970: 355-56.

The above studies, that include RCTs, show that systemic therapies are much more successful than therapies based on the orthodox paradigm.

In Cervical cancer, Ralph Moss (Cancer Therapy, The Independent Consumers Guide to Non-Toxic Treatment and Prevention) reports the following alternative therapies have been shown to benefit.

  1. Vitamin A – A variant of vitamin A is Accutane and is often used in cancer therapy.

By placing Accutane directly in cervical caps (a barrier form of birth control) doctors have been able to get an 80 percent response to moderate case of cervical dysplasia. (Beta-carotene and the B vitamin folate also benefit this condition).

References. Kummet T, et al. Vitamin A: evidence for its preventive role in human cancer. Nutr Cancer. 1983;5:96-106.

  1. B vitamins – cervical cancer is usually preceded by suspicious readings on Pap smears, a condition called “cervical dysplasia”.

A 1992 study in JAMA showed that dietary intervention might be possible. University of Alabama Comprehensive Cancer Centre scientists demonstrated that a folate deficiency was often associated with cervical dysplasia. Such deficiency was said to “enhance the effect of other risk factors” and particularly that of the human papillomavirus ((HPV), a known cause of cervical cancer. Thus, although a lack of folate may not be cancer causing in itself, deficient cells are more susceptible to the effects of carcinogens.

Chinese scientists noted that dysplastic changes in women’s cervical cells cleared up after they were given folate supplements.

References. Butterworth C, et al. Folate deficiency and cervical dysplasia. JAMA.1992;267:528-533.

Eto I and KrumdieckC. Role if vitamin B12 and folate deficiencies and carcinogenesis. Adv Exp Med Biol.1986;206:313-330.

Ran J, et al. Selective folate deficiency in one but not another cell line. Blood. 1990;76S:114A.

  1. Beta Carotene – a natural chemical found in many fruits and vegetables.

Scientists at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, New York, measured tissues of women with a kind of uterine growth called leiomyomas. They found that beta-carotene levels were significantly lower in fibroid tissue than in the normal tissue. Beta-carotene levels in cancers of the cervix, endometrium, ovary, breast, colon, lung, liver and rectum were also found to be lower than in the adjacent normal tissues. This suggests that beta-carotene deficiency might play a role in the origin of many kinds of cancer.

References. Palan PR. Decreased b-carotene tissue levels in uterine leiomyomas and cancers of the reproductive and non reproductive organs. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.1989;161:1649-1652.

If you or someone close to you have just been diagnosed with cervical cancer, it is important you research and understand your chosen treatment, whether that be conventional, alternative or a mixture of both. For the best results your treatment should include physical treatment, mental treatment and psychological treatment.

For more information on some more common evidenced based alternative treatments please go to the alternative treatment tab. If you don’t know where to begin in your journey to wellness then we suggest you read where to start.

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