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 (RCTs). Again, with conventional cancer treatment, this is generally not the case.
The following is based on the conventional cancer paradigm.
The brain and spinal cord make up the entire central nervous system (CNS). Brain and spinal cord tumours are growths of abnormal cells in the tissues of the brain or spinal cord. A tumour that starts in another part of the body and spreads to the brain is called a metastatic brain tumour.
Brain or spinal cord tumours may be either benign (not cancer) or malignant (cancer).
Both benign and malignant tumours cause signs and symptoms and need to be treated. Benign brain and spinal tumours can grow and press on nearby areas of the brain but rarely spread into other parts of the brain. Malignant brain and spinal cord tumours are likely to grow quickly and spread into other parts of the brain.
There are many types of brain and spinal cord tumours. They form different cell types and different areas of the brain and spinal cord. The signs and symptoms depend on where the tumour grows, its size, how fast it is growing and the age of the patient.
Brain and spinal cord tumours can be in both adults and children. The types of tumours that form and the way that they are treated are different in both children and adults. In adults, anaplastic astrocytomas and glioblastomas make up about one third of brain tumours. In children, astrocytomas are the most common type of brain tumour.
The prognosis (chance of recovery) depends on many factors, including age, tumour location, tumour type, and where the tumour is in the CNS. (National Cancer Institute)
Risks: The causes of most brain and spinal tumours are unknown. However, there are a few known risks for brain cancer.
— Family History – it is possible to have a genetic disposition.
— Radiotherapy – people who have had radiation to the head, usually to treat another type of cancer, may be at increased risk of developing a tumour.
Concern about a link between using mobile phones and/or microwave ovens and brain cancer has caused a lot of community interest. Evidence to date shows no link but it cannot be ruled out as long term studies are not complete. If concerned then limit use. (Australian Cancer Council)
(CISS tends to support the evidence suggesting a link so recommends that young children minimise their use of mobile phones and use devices that enable the phone to be kept away from the head. See Prevention below. A study by the Interphone Group published in 2010 (International Journal of Epidemiology, 2010; 1-20; doi: 10.1093/ije/dyq079) has added some weight to this concern. Interphone researcher, Bruce Armstrong from the University of Sydney, said: “There is evidence that there may be a risk; Interphone has made that a little stronger.”).
Signs and Symptoms: As already mentioned, symptoms depend upon the location of the tumour in the brain or CNS. Symptoms of brain tumours can be as follows:
- Weakness or paralysis in parts of the body
- Trouble balancing or maybe having seizures.
- Nausea and / or vomiting
- Difficulty speaking or remembering words.
- Short term memory problems.
- Disturbed vision, hearing, smell or taste.
- Loss of consciousness.
- General irritability, depression or personality changes
Symptoms of spinal cord tumours:
- Back and neck pain
- Numbness or tingling in the arms or legs.
- Clumsiness or difficulty walking.
- Loss of bowel or bladder control. (Australian Cancer Council)
Treatment: The main treatment is surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. These can be used alone or in a combination.
- Surgery – the most common treatment usually involves the tumour being removed. Please note: there is little evidence that surgery for cancer has any benefit on increased percentage 5 year survival except in cases where the tumour is in a life threatening position such as some brain tumours. (The efficacy of surgical treatment of cancer, DJ Benjamin).
- Radiation – uses high energy x-rays to kill cancer cells. 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).
- 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 brain cancer may give only a 4.9% 5 year survival benefit.
- Medications such as steroids or anti-convulsant (anti-seizure) medication may also be given to reduce symptoms.
The aim of treatment is to remove the tumour, slow its growth, or relieve symptoms by shrinking the tumour and swelling. Therapies for adults and children are similar (Australian Cancer Council)
The above therapies all come with risks and side effects which should be discussed in detail by your treating physician.
Before deciding on one of these treatments you would benefit from asking your physician three questions:
Question 1: What are my treatment options? – These should include doing nothing.
Question 2: What are the possible outcomes of those options? – including benefits and side effects.
Question 3: How likely is each of the outcomes to occur?
If your doctor or other health practitioner cannot answer these questions, or shows that he or she is not comfortable with you asking these questions, it raises the question as to whether they are practising evidence based medicine and you should consider getting another opinion.
These three questions can be expanded.
Alternative Cancer Therapies
As mentioned above, conventional medicine supports the paradigm that the tumour is the first stage of cancer; therefore treating and removing the cancer should cure the cancer. Another paradigm believes that cancer is a systemic disease and the tumour is in fact a late stage symptom, element or manifestation of that disease. Therefore treating the disease should be systemic and wholistic (meaning treating the whole body) and should include the following principles:
- Treatment should cause no harm
- Treatment should be wholistic (ie consider the whole person – body, mind, emotions and spirit)
- The person with cancer needs to take control of their own health.
This latter paradigm is supported by CISS (See Introduction to CISS).
Alternative cancer therapies are generally consistent with the above principles. In fact those believed to be most effective in controlling cancer – psychotherapy and immunotherapy – also have strong evidence from randomised controlled trials.
There are approximately 200 other alternative cancer therapies that have been shown or anecdotally reported to help a person with cancer have reduced morbidity and mortality. What is important in any cancer treatment is to both understand and believe in your chosen therapy.
There are several alternative cancer therapies claimed to produce benefits with brain cancer. Those claimed to have the most benefits in most types of cancer include psychotherapy and homeopathy.
Although there were no patients with brain cancers enrolled in the psychotherapy trials, psychotherapy was found to provide benefits in all types of cancers with solid tumours, so brain cancer would not be expected to be an exception.
- Homeopathy – This is a therapy created in 1796 by Samuel Hahnemann based on his doctrine of ‘like cures like’, a claim that a substance that causes the symptoms of a disease in healthy people would cure similar symptoms in sick people. The preparations or remedies are manufactured using a process of homeopathic dilution, in which a chosen substance is repeatedly diluted in alcohol or distilled water, sometimes until there are no molecules of the original substance left. It is argued that the water must have a memory of the original substance or that it retains the electromagnetic or other vibrations from it.
In one review of the work at the Prasanta Banerji Homeopathic Research Foundation in India 21,888 patients with malignant tumours were treated only with homeopathy – they had neither chemotherapy nor radiotherapy – between 1990 and 2005. Clinical reports reveal that the tumours completely regressed in 19 percent – or 4,158 – of cases, and stabilised or improved in a further 21 per cent (4,596) of patients. Those whose tumours had stabilised were followed for between two and 10 years afterwards to monitor the improvement. This suggests that homeopathic remedies on their own are reversing, or certainly stabilising, 40 per cent of all cancers, a success rate that matches the best results for conventional medicine, and without the debilitating effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
In a study of brain-tumour cases (148 patients with malignant gliomas and 144 with meningiomas) treated at the Prasanta Banerji Homeopathic Research Foundation between 1996 and 2001, the 91 patients who had been treated exclusively with Ruta and Calc Phos homeopathic remedies had an average survival time of 92 months, whereas 11 patients who had been treated conventionally, and used homeopathy as a supplement, survived for 20 months. In addition, 7 per cent of the homeopathy-only patients had a complete cure, 60% were improved, 22% were stable – with the cancer neither improving nor worsening – and 11 per cent saw their cancer worsen or died.
The scientists at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center (MDACC) in Houston were so impressed by the results with brain tumours that they organised a trial to test two homeopathic remedies, Ruta 6 and Calcarea Phosphorica 3X, on 15 patients with brain tumours. Six of the seven patients with gliomas – a type of brain cancer – had complete regression. As a result they subsequently incorporated homeopathy into their standard treatment protocols for brain cancer.
References: Banerji P, Campbell DR, Banerji P. Cancer patients treated with the Banerji protocols utilising homoeopathic medicine: a Best Case Series Program of the National Cancer Institute USA. Oncol Rep. (Jul) 2008; 20(1):69-74.
Prasanta Banerji Homeopathic Research Foundation, www.pbhrfindia.org.
What Doctors Don’t Tell You, Vol 22, No. 12, March 2012.
For brain 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.
- Antineoplastons – “A completely new type of antitumour agent that is non-toxic and seems to make malignant cells revert to normal” is what Oncology News called antineoplastons in their July-August 1990 cover story. “The body itself has a treatment for cancer” says Stanislaw R. Burzynski, MD, PHD, who discovered antineoplastons (a peptide)in 1967.
Antineoplastons are found in normal blood and urine, but appear to be deficient in cancer patients. They allegedly inhibit cancer cells and convert them to normal. Patients go to his Burzynski Research Institute in Houston to receive injections or infusions with antineoplastons.
In 1992, the US National Cancer Institute announced plans to begin clinical trials in four kinds of brain cancer. A statement from NCI (1/6/92) stated that “The National Cancer Institute reviewed 7 cases of primary brain tumours that were treated by Dr Burzynski with antineoplastons and concluded that antitumour responses occurred”.
References: Burzynski S. Biologically active peptides in human urine:I.Isolation of a group of medium sized peptides. Physiol Chem Phys.1973;5:437.
Burzynski S, et al. Antineoplaston A in cancer therapy. Physiol Chem Phys.1977;9:485.
- Arginine – Arginine is an amino acid, a building block of protein. Enzymes and hormones are generally comprised of proteins, and therefore ultimately amino acids. Many vitamins and minerals will not function without amino acids being present. Arginine is an essential amino acid that must be obtained from the diet. It is found in meat, milk, eggs and some nuts such as pistachios, almonds and pumpkin seeds.
Studies showed one percent arginine supplements slowed the growth of nerve cancer and prolonged the average survival time, enhanced immune T-cells and increased their response to tumours.
References: Cha-Chung Y.Arrest of mammary tumour growth in vivo by l-arginine. Biochemical and Bio[physical Research Comm.1980;95:1306-13.
Reynolds J, et al. Immunologic effects of arginine supplementation in tumour bearing and non tumour bearing hosts. Annals of Surgery. 1990;211:202-209.
- Chaparral – Chaparral tea is prepared from a perennial evergreen shrub called the greasewood or creosote bush of the American Southwest.The active ingredient is NDGA (nordihydroguaiaretic acid).
When glioma (brain cancer) cells were incubated for just four hours with small amounts of NDGA, the chemical inhibited DNA synthesis (a sign of anti-cancer effects). Prolonged incubation (72 hours) of the rat and human glioma cells with NDGA markedly decreased cell proliferation. Scientists at Lukes Medical Centre in Chicago concluded that NDGA was an important controller of glioma cell division.
Reference: Wilson DE, et al. effects of nordihydroguaiaretic acid on cultured rat and human glioma cell proliferation. J Neurosurg.1989,71:551-7.
- Heat Therapy – Heat therapy (hyperthermia) is the scientific use of heat for the treatment of cancer. In the body externally applied heat acts like an artificially induced fever. Some doctors believe that fever is a natural healing mechanism of the body, stimulating the immune system, while disarming microbes and cancer cells.
For many types of cancer heat therapy increases the chances of controlling the disease by 25 to 35 percent. Promising results have been obtained in cancers of the brain, breast, head and neck area and skin (NCI Cancer Weekly, 5/29/89). Some scientists have called for a reintegration of fever into conventional therapy. They recognise that prolonged, natural fever enhances the effects of natural body defence proteins.
In one experiment, cancer cells were implanted in the brains of 28 rabbits, which were then divided into four groups of seven. One group got hyperthermia by means of a needle into the tumour at 45 degrees C for half an hour. The second group received chemotherapy. The third group received chemotherapy followed by hyperthermia. The fourth group received no treatment. Results showed animals receiving hyperthermia lived longer and significantly superior to no treatment. However; it also showed combined treatment with hyperthermia and chemotherapy was more effective than either treatment alone.
References: Keen AR and Frelick RW. Response of tumours to thermodynamic stimulation of the immune system. Del Med J.1990;62:1155-6.
Tanaka T, et al. effect of combined treatment with magnetic induction hyperthermia and chemotherapy in a rabbit brain tumour model. Neurol Med Chir (Tokyo). 1989;29:377-81.
- Hydrazine sulphate – Hydrazine Sulphate is a prohibited import in Australia. It is a common industrial chemical that was used as a component of rocket fuel during World War II. It was first proposed as a cancer treatment in the early 1970s by Joseph Gold MD, of the Syracuse Cancer research Institute, NY.
Gold drew on the work of Nobel laureate Otto Warburg, who theorised that cancer derived its energy from anaerobic glycolysis (fermenting sugar) rather than respiring in the normal way. Gold proposed using chemicals to control cancer’s growth by exploiting this process.
Gold suggested that by cutting off a tumour’s supply of new glucose, formed in the liver,
the drug could starve the tumour, in turn stopping the cancer from depleting the body’s energy pools and putting an end to cachexia, the terrible wasting process that appears in the final stages of the disease. It is this wasting process that often kills the cancer patient and is estimated to cause ~40% of all cancer deaths.
A team of 11 scientists at the N.N Petrov research Institute of Oncology, Leningrad have been working on hydrazine sulphate since the 1970s. The Russians have had the greatest single experience with hydrazine sulphate having treated and evaluated over 740 patients, including brain tumours. A study of the effects of hydrazine sulphate on 46 patients with malignant and 6 patients with benign brain tumours found that 63.5% experienced pronounced tumour regression (or 73% including partial regression of neurological symptoms). The percentages for patients with malignant tumours only were 61% and 71.1%.
Reference: Filov VA et al. Results Of Clinical Evaluation Of Hydrazine Sulfate. Vopr Onkol 1990; 36 (6): 721-726.
As mentioned above, CISS recommends that young children minimise the exposure to radiation from mobile phones. Because some adapters using earplugs can actually increase exposure by the leads acting as an antenna, CISS suggests the use of a suitable acoustic tube to take the sound from the phone to the ear. This operates like a stethoscope. Such devices are available commercially and known as Blue Tube headsets and cost from $25-$50.
If you or someone close to you has just been diagnosed with brain or CNS 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, mental, emotional/psychological and spiritual treatment.
If you don’t know where to begin in your journey to wellness then we suggest you read Where To Start. This provides an introduction to the alternative approach to treating cancer and also information about some evidenced based alternative cancer treatments.