Stomach (gastric) 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 states that the tumour is the first stage of cancer; therefore treating and removing the cancer should cure the cancer. Unfortunately statistics show this is rarely the case. Conventional medicine also advocates treatment should only be used if supported by appropriate clinical trials showing efficacy. Evidence based medicine suggests that the only reliable evidence for efficacy comes from properly run randomised controlled trials (RCTs). As mentioned below, none of the RCTs evaluating conventional intervention for cancer have shown any clear benefit. Therefore the conventional cancer paradigm needs to be questioned.

Much of the following descriptions are based on the conventional cancer paradigm with comments from CISS inserted where claims have not been established. The alternative explanation is given later.

The US National Cancer Institute states that “Cancer is a genetic disease—that is, it is caused by changes to genes that control the way our cells function, especially how they grow and divide. Genetic changes that cause cancer can be inherited from our parents. They can also arise during a person’s lifetime as a result of errors that occur as cells divide or because of damage to DNA caused by certain environmental exposures. (There is little evidence for this claim – CISS)

The stomach is a muscular, hollow, dilated part of the digestive system located between the esophagus and the small intestine, which functions as an important organ of the digestive tract. The stomach’s job is the main organ for digesting food and is involved in the second phase of digestion, following mastication (chewing).

The stomach secretes protein-digesting enzymes called proteases and gastric acid to aid in food digestion, through smooth muscular contractions before sending partially digested food (chyme) to the small intestines.

Gastric (stomach) cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the lining of the stomach.

Almost all (90% to 95%) gastric malignancies are adenocarcinomas (cancers that begin in cells that make and release mucus and other fluids).

The other types of gastric cancers are:

  • gastrointestinal carcinoid tumours;
  • gastrointestinal stromal tumours; and
  • lymphomas

Infection with bacteria called H. pylori is claimed to be a common cause of gastric cancer. (NCI) However only 2% of people with Helicobacter infections develop stomach cancer (Wikipedia).

In Australia stomach cancer accounts for about 2% of cancers and ranks 9th among the major types of cancer. It accounts for about 3% of cancer deaths.

Signs and Symptoms:

Gastric cancer is often diagnosed at an advanced stage because there are usually no early signs or symptoms. Early symptoms may include heartburn, upper abdominal pain, nausea and loss of appetite. Later signs and symptoms may include weight loss, yellow skin and whites of the eyes, vomiting, difficulty swallowing, and blood in the stool among others. The cancer may spread from the stomach to other parts of the body, particularly the liver, lungs, bones, lining of the abdomen and lymph nodes. (Wikipedia) (There is little evidence for the claim that cancer spreads to other parts of the body – CISS)

While the precise cause is unknown, claimed risk factors for gastric cancer include the following:

  • Helicobacter pylori gastric infection.
  • Male gender.
  • Gastric adenomatous polyps
  • Cigarette smoking.
  • Menetrier disease (giant hypertrophic gastritis).

Risk factors are usually based on correlation factors between lifestyle and cancer incidence so there is rarely any causal factor established (CISS).


Surgery: It is claimed that gastric cancer can be controlled by completely removal by surgery if it is found before it has spread.

(Note: There is little evidence that surgery for gastric cancer has any benefit on increased percentage 5 year survival or reduced mortality as there has never been a randomised controlled trial to demonstrate such benefits. (The Efficacy of surgical treatment of cancer – 20 years later, DJ Benjamin).

Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is often used after surgery. It is claimed to help lower the risk of the cancer coming back. This is known as adjuvant chemotherapy. If it isn’t possible to remove all the cancer, the chemotherapy may help to shrink what was left behind. The most common chemotherapy is gemcitabine or fluorouracil (5-FU).

Radiotherapy: Radiotherapy is sometimes used after surgery, sometimes with or following the chemotherapy.

(Note: There is little evidence of any significant benefit from using chemotherapy or radiotherapy to treat gastric cancer – CISS)

Early detection: gastric cancer is difficult to detect and diagnose for the following reasons:

  • There aren’t any noticeable signs or symptoms in the early stages of gastric cancer
  • The signs and symptoms of gastric cancer, when present, are like the signs and symptoms of many other illnesses

Overdiagnosis: There is little overdiagnosis of gastric cancer because there are few tests used that find signs of gastric cancer when looking for reasons of other problems.

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 you feel your doctor or other health practitioner is not able to answer these questions, or shows that he or she is not comfortable with you asking these question, it suggests they are not 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 states that cancer is a systemic disease and the tumour is only 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:

  1. Treatment should cause no harm
  2. Treatment should be Wholistic (ie consider the whole person – body, mind, emotions and spirit)
  3. 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 the most effective in controlling cancer – psychotherapy and immunotherapy – also have the strongest supporting evidence from randomised controlled trials.

There are approximately 200 alternative cancer therapies that have been shown or anec- dotally reported to help a person with cancer have reduced morbidity and mortality. The following are those used for gastric cancer with the most scientific evidence for benefit. 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 gastric cancer. Those claimed to have the most benefits include:

  • Psychotherapy

One of the RCTs evaluating psychotherapy concluded the following: “The results of this study indicate that patients with gastrointestinal cancer, who undergo surgery for stomach, pancreatic, primary liver, or colorectal cancer, benefit from a formal program of psychotherapeutic support during the inpatient hospital stay in terms of long-term survival.”

Reference: Küchler T et al. Impact of psychotherapeutic support for patients with gastrointestinal cancer undergoing surgery: 10-year survival results of a randomised trial J Clin Oncol. (Jul 1) 2007; 25(19):2702-8. Erratum in: J Clin Oncol. (Sep 20) 2007; 25 (27): 4328.

Another study involved 24 pairs of cancer patients with six different types of inoperable cancer, including scrotal (1), stomach (2), bronchiolar (7), corpus uteri (4), cervical (5) and colorectal (5).

Survival times of the treated group averaged 5.07 years (ranging from 1.7 years for bronchiolar to 9.5 yrs for colorectal). For the control group survival averaged 3.09 years (ranging from 1.0 yrs for bronchiolar to 4.9 yrs for colorectal) an increased survival of 64%.

For the two pairs of inoperable stomach cancer (n=4), the survival was 3.6 years vs 2.05 years, an increase of 76%.

Reference: 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.

  • Immunotherapy

Many clinical trials have shown benefits of Iscador therapy on people with different types of cancer. A study involved 1668 cancer patients treated with Iscador and 8475 who had taken neither Iscador nor any other mistletoe product (control patients). The cancer types included carcinoma of the colon, rectum, or stomach; breast carcinoma with or without axillary or remote metastases; or small cell or non-small-cell bronchogenic carcinoma. Survival time of patients treated with Iscador was longer for all types of cancer studied. In the nonrandomised matched-pair study with 396 matched pairs, survival time in the Iscador groups (4.23 years) was roughly 40% longer than in the control groups (3.05 years; P < .001). Results of the 2 randomised matched-pair studies largely confirmed the results of the non-randomised studies.

Reference: Grossarth-Maticek R et al. Use of Iscador, an extract of European mistletoe (Viscum album), in cancer treatment: prospective nonrandomised and randomised matched-pair studies nested within a cohort study. Altern Ther Health Med. (May-Jun) 2001; 7(3): 57-66, 68-72, 74-6 passim.

  • Issels Wholebody Therapy

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

It was estimated in 1970 that a representative sample (252) of Issels’ patients with late stage cancers (of whom 36 had late stage stomach cancer) showed a 16.6% five-year survival following his treatment. This compared with less than 5% with standard treatment at the time. They also experienced a 15% 15-year survival compared with less than 2% for standard treatment. This long-term surviving group of 42 included 4 of the those with late stage stomach cancer.

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.

For gastric cancer, Ralph Moss, Cancer Therapy, The Independent Consumers Guide to Non-Toxic Treatment and Prevention, reports the following alternative therapy has been shown to benefit.

  1. Hydrazine sulphate – Hydrazine Sulphate is a prohibited import in Australia. This 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 138 with stomach cancer. This study found that hydrazine sulphate produced stabilisation or regression of the tumour in 50.8% of the patients, including 57 (~ 41%) of those with stomach cancer.

Reference: Filov, V, et al. Results of clinical evaluation of hydrazine sulfate. Vopr Onkol 1990; 36: 721-6.

Moss also reports anecdotal benefits from the use of bioflavonoids, green tea, indoles, krestin, and lentinan.


There are no specific treatments designed to prevent stomach cancer. However there are several general approaches that are suggested might be useful in preventing all types of cancers. The main one, psychotherapy, has been shown to not only increase survival for people with cancer but also reduce the incidence of cancer among people with stress.

Based on the above information it would seem that preventing cancer, including stomach cancer, involves mainly dealing with the emotional causes of cancer. See Cancer Prevention.

Choosing the right treatment for you

If you or someone close to you has just been diagnosed with gastric/stomach cancer it is important that 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 treatments.

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.


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