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Treatment of colon cancer with Chinese medicine


#1

I am looking for a cogent discussion or article about the treatment of colon cancer with Chinese medicine.

Now, before you reach down to the keyboard and type, “Don’t do it,” please consider the article below:

http://www.itmonline.org/arts/gicancer.htm

There seems to be a lot of literature about this subject and at least some reported success.

Please…I don’t need to be told to see a western doctor and do what they say. Rest assured the western doctor has been consulted and the required colonoscopy has been performed.

Please…I don’t need to be told, “Just do what the doctors say.” Believe me when I say, I am considering all options.

Please…I don’t need to be asked what stage you are in, what are your symptoms etc.

I simply want information about the treatment of colon cancer with Chinese medicine.

If you want to denounce the article I linked to, if you have credible evidence that the sources mentioned in the article, the writer of the article, or any other part of the article is faulty, I would like to know that.

But it seems pretty sound to me.

Thank you,

Paul


#2

You might be interested in the Tom Tam system of healing. There are several therapies available for the treatment of cancer. Generally speaking however there is no one set course of treatment for colon cancer, or frankly any other western diagnosed disease. Treatments in TCM and oriental medicine more broadly, are tailored to address the specific symptoms and patterns which are causing those symptoms. Treatment options may include acupuncture, herbal therapy, tui na (body work), food therapy (diet) and possibly some forms of energy healing.


#3

Hey Stephen,

Thanks a lot for your reply. Very meaningful.

I am in China now, going to a Chinese medicine hospital that has an adjunct
building for western medicine. Your comments make this arrangement seem
inappropriate. And it does seem as if in the case of serious illness, the
Chinese doctors would immediately defer to the Western doctors.

I was having some success with the CHinese medicine, but then with a
possible cancer diagnosis, at least one of the TCM doctors (not my favorite
one, though…he is out of town for some reason) immediately deferred to
surgery and started writing prescriptions for Western medicine. Who
knows…maybe they are right.

One thing that made me deeply question the Western diagnosis, however, was
that the biopsy came back negative for cancer. They want to do another.
Well…uh…how many of these are you guys going to do? Until you find
what you are looking for? And if you don’t find it? I clearly saw them take
samples from two separate locations.

So your reply suggests the problem might be better solved by addressing
symptoms, which is what the Chinese doctor was doing before. But then I
presented him with some worrisome symptoms and he sent me to the Western
medicine building…even when his herbal formulas were having some success.

And I say some success. I still had problems. And these are complicated
issues. Not saying that western medicine is inappropriate in my case. Just
wanting to see the other side of the coin.

Paul


#4

Sorry let me clarify - TCM should not address symptoms per se but the patterns of imbalance which are causing those symptoms. this applies to not only cancer but pretty much every disease.

Frankly if you’re existing TCM doctors refer you to a western facility I would suggest they have a reason for doing so. However as my only experience with the Chinese medical system is by second hand accounts from teachers and a past employer I really am not qualified to comment on the current course of therapy your various doctors are engaged in.


#5

I worked with a Chinese master in Boston, Tom Tam, for nearly a decade in his clinic where we treated nearly exclusively cancer and auto-immune conditions and I still see a fair amount of both in my clinic in Chattanooga as do many Chinese Medicine practitioners. An aspect of our overall approach is tong ren therapy (an energy healing technique, but the areas we focus on are the same whether we are doing tong ren, acupuncture, massage, etc.). I only mention that to say I’ve had many patients and treated nearly every type of cancer in most possible combinations and stages of severity. At the end of the day there are no straightforward answers. Some western options, like surgery in many cases, are very helpful and reasonably risk free and successful. But even with successful surgery the recurrence rates are high ( 1 ), so you still need all the available options - dietary change, lifestyle change, Chinese Medicine, etc, which in clinical reality increase your long term outcomes. There are a host of variables, however, that make analysis of individual outcomes impossible to really guarantee.

So to start with your first array of statements about people on this site telling you that you are crazy to consider Chinese Medicine for colon cancer treatment exclusively - given the context of this site no one is going to tell you that. That said, having no reference points as far as diagnostic testing, blood tests, etc. with western medicine would be a very bad idea - even if you treat the cancer initially at least entirely with Chinese Medicine. Why not use science? and why is it an either/or option? It just isn’t.

Now your experience with Chinese practitioners is not unique. There are a range of styles and training worldwide with acupuncture and certainly in China. And in China you have many practitioners tightly interwoven with western medicine and some completely outside of that system as it is somewhat more commonly practiced in the west. There is no right and wrong, but there are great differences in experience and opinion when you get to complicated conditions such as cancer - there are, however, no right and wrong answers/opinions.

When you look critically at long-term outcomes of patients who have western treatments for cancer they are improving, for many cancers, but they are by far not universally great. There are many people who with dietary change alone have healed their cancers, many with Chinese Medicine, herbs and acupuncture, herbs alone, acupuncture alone and many with medical qi gong (energy healing) and every other variant. Enough to say they have a place in treatment, but not enough to give exclusive responsibility to any one system or course of change. Ultimately, I feel a combination is best for most cancers, but with Chinese Medicine leading it and being the critical part and western medicine being secondary but that is just my opinion based on my clinical experience, my understanding of modern research and my own observation of the clinical experience of my peers. I can say Master Tom Tam, my primary teacher, has excellent outcomes across the board with cancer. But that doesn’t mean that patients didn’t do a combination of treatments (west and east) and do other lifestyle and dietary change - they often are doing all of the above with only a fraction doing only Chinese Medicine and most of those due to failures after exhausting all western options.

So that’s a long winded way to say I don’t think your experience with certain Chinese Medicine practitioners, particularly those within an “integrative” facility, is unique. Just like your family practice physician is not the person to treat your colon cancer, you need to see a Chinese Medicine doctor who has deep and broad experience with cancer to get proper treatment. But even they will likely want at least blood work and scans from the western side to monitor treatment and may recommend a combination approach either at the beginning or after watching your initial response to treatment. This in many ways is no different than the western model that starts with standards of care and then essentially gets more aggressive if you don’t respond well with the initial course of treatments.

The following articles I’ve written and research studies at least give some guideposts to how certain Chinese Medicine formulas work, how acupuncture can create internal changes and how some adjunctive Chinese Medicine techniques may work - but they are only guideposts - some are not exclusively for cancer but you can make those links as cancer and other GI diseases have similar backgrounds.

The basis of our particular system for cancer is in the text Healing Cancer with the Nervous System - not that I suggest per se you buy and read the book, just if you really wanted to learn more it’s hard to put all of it in a forum post, particularly to try to keep it at a non Chinese Medicine specialist level.

I wish you the best of health and hope you can navigate the health care labyrinth to your benefit!


#6

Chad,

Thank you so much for your thoughtful reply.

It is amazing that I am having this conversation with someone in Chattanooga. I grew up in Chattanooga. I am a graduate of the McCallie School.

I sincerely hope this public dialogue will help others.

Yes, I do take a rather combative tone towards western medicine at times, which might not be wise. But I think one can understand the fear and frustration of someone in my situation. I am getting a lot of contradictory, confusing, and incomplete information.

For instance, I assumed that the colonoscopy biopsy (there’s your Western medicine right there, and I am glad I did that) would be very straightforward. I was awake for the entire procedure and I saw them snip samples with that colonoscopy thing. I saw it on HD TV, in fact. No one told me that if these samples came back negative, there would be more probing. This was an immediate indication that not all was as it seemed. It is easy for the patient to assume that negative means negative.

Surgery certainly emits a clarion call, doesn’t it? Just let us snip that bad boy out of there and then everything will be fine. But as you say, backed up with evidence, the recurrence rates for surgery are high. No one bothered to mention that either. Of course, it is not something a patient wants to hear. And here in China I am dealing with a language barrier, so there’s that.

One of my main arguments against surgery, which by the way I am totally considering, is simple: It’s rich man’s medicine.

The cost of the operation they want to do in China is prohibitively high for most Chinese citizens, though certainly a very large percentage could afford it. So you are telling me that I have to deplete ALL my wealth for an operation that has a high chance of recurrence? And then with what money will I pay for the subsequent operations? With what money will I pay for this and that drug that is necessary in case of complications? Furthermore, it seems there is a significant chance that money may be better spent elsewhere, so spending all my money on surgery would negate potentially life-saving options.

On a practical side, what bloodwork are you talking about? An American nurse here in China recommended the CEA test. But when I go to the Wikipedia site for that, it says that the results of such a test are not conclusive, that cancer could exist on the site in the colon and not show up in the bloodstream. So what good is that?

Finally, Chinese medicine existed thousands of years before colonoscopies, biopsies and CEA tests. While I agree that such tests are helpful, it stands to reason that some practitioners of this system of medicine encountered similar symptoms, and without naming them as “cancer” or “microbial infection” treated these maladies effectively.

Alas, then people died too. There are no easy answers.

Thank you again,

Paul


#7

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