Arizona Advanced Medicine Clinic

Are we in the Midst of a Cancer Epidemic?

The headline of an article from the Associated Press published 09-10-13 in the Arizona Republic screams out what those who are in the "business" of cancer have known for several years. Cancer crisis is looming as Boomers age. Why do you think there has been such a proliferation of "Cancer Treatment Centers" in the United States in recent years? In the Phoenix area alone we counted fourteen establishments which bill themselves exclusively as cancer treatment centers - and that's not to mention the proliferation of "alternative" cancer treatment centers.

Curiously, the older chemotherapeutic drugs which worked so well for certain cancers (like childhood leukemia) are becoming more difficult to find, or no longer made, or in short supply, while the newer monoclonal antibodies and other biological drugs are in surprisingly plentiful supply - but at 10 times the cost.

The scientific literature has reported for years that tumor cells even within the same tumor may be genetically different, and may respond to different treatments. So which drug is chosen for a given patient needs to depend on the tumor genetics as well as the tumor type. And yet, most professional oncology associations call this type of testing "experimental" and do not recommend it. And of course, most insurance companies do not cover the cost of such testing, since it is deemed "experimental".

So what's a patient to do? You have just been given a diagnosis of cancer, and your oncologist says "This chemotherapy is used for your type of cancer, you should start immediately on treatment, or the cancer will metastasize and kill you." Your oncologist also likely says that quantity is more important than quality when it comes to food (in medical school we were all taught that "a calorie is a calorie", and pretty much poo-poohs the idea that a low carbohydrate high fat diet might be beneficial - despite the overwhelming evidence of benefit reported in the scientific literature.

At the Arizona Center for Advanced Medicine, we realize that cancer does not just spring up out of the ground. The body's biologic terrain has to be just right for cancer to take root and grow. We look for the factors which changed the body's metabolism from healthy to cancer-promoting. We give the body what it needs to return to healthy metabolism. We treat the cancer, of course - and part of the treatment may be surgical, or even occasionally radiation - we use low dose chemotherapy when appropriate (with insulin as a biologic response modifier - also known as insulin potentiation low dose chemotherapy, IPT or IPT-LD). We use nutritional therapy - encouraging the intake of cancer fighting and health-promoting foods. We give supplements to augment and restore the areas where the body is lacking in nutrients. We use intravenous nutritional and anti-oxidant and oxidizing therapies to help the body recover its health. We look for the root energetic cause - where on the mental or emotional level did an idea take hold which permitted the development of a cancer in this specific area of the body.

Most of all, at the Arizona Center for Advanced Medicine we give you options, and help you determine which option is best for you. And we offer you support so that you do not have to travel the road alone.

azcentral

Cancer crisis is looming as Boomers age

By Lauran Neergaard
Associated Press
Tue Sep 10, 2013 9:58 PM

WASHINGTON - The U.S. is facing a crisis in how to deliver cancer care as Baby Boomers reach their tumor-prone years and doctors have a hard time keeping up with complex new treatments, government advisers reported Tuesday.

The caution comes even as scientists are learning more than ever about better ways to battle cancer and developing innovative therapies to target tumors.

As doctors try to optimize treatment, the Institute of Medicine, a non-profit advisory organization, has found daunting barriers to achieving high-quality care for all patients. Overcoming those challenges will require savvier consumers and changes to the health-care system.

"We do not want to frighten or scare people who are getting care now," said Dr. Patricia Ganz, a cancer specialist at UCLA who chaired the panel.

But too often, decisions about cancer treatments aren't based on good evidence, and patients may not understand their choices and what to expect, the panel found. For example, some studies suggest that two-thirds or more of cancer patients with poor prognoses incorrectly believe the treatments they receive can cure them.

Topping the list of recommendations is finding ways to help patients make more informed decisions, with easy-to-understand information on the pros, cons and costs of different treatments.

"The patient can't be passive," Ganz said. "It's an important partnership that we need."

The risk of cancer increases with age, and older adults account for just over half of the 1.6 million new cases diagnosed each year. By 2030, new diagnoses are expected to reach 2.3 million a year as the population ages. The report warns that there may not be enough oncology specialists to care for them.

Perhaps a bigger concern is the growing complexity of care. Increasingly, scientists are finding genetic differences inside tumors that help explain why one person's cancer is more aggressive than another's.

More importantly, that also means certain cancer drugs will work for, say, lung cancer in one person but not the next.

"If your doctor doesn't know that, or your hospital doesn't do the test, you don't have that opportunity (for newer, targeted therapies)," Ganz said. "We are living in an information age where it's impossible to keep up."

It's not just a matter of knowing the latest treatments, but deciding whether they're worth it for an individual patient.

Consider: Of 13 cancer treatments approved by the Food and Drug Administration last year, only one was proven to extend survival by more than a median of six months, the report said. The drugs all cost more than $5,900 for each month of treatment.

For older adults, treatment decisions may be even more complicated - because the studies that test different therapies don't include enough people over age 65, who tend to have multiple health problems along with cancer, Ganz said.

Nor are cancer teams doing a good enough job in educating and training patients' loved ones to offer the at-home care that many need for long stretches of time, she said.

The Institute of Medicine advises the government about health issues.

Among its recommendations are: more research to tease out how to best treat different patients; new strategies to help doctors keep up with that evidence; and development of tools to help communicate the choices to patients so they understand what really can happen to them.

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