Palliation vs Treatment in Cancer Care

No cancer patient wants to hear that their only option is palliative care. Palliative care means using therapies (usually limited to pain medications) that reduce discomfort and thus enhance quality of life. These therapies are explicitly not intended to control the growth and spread of cancer. Palliative care means the cancer patient has progressed beyond the point where there are any treatment options.

The reason that there is such a distinct line between treatment and palliation in conventional cancer care is that the therapies used to treat cancer almost universally make cancer patients feel worse. If there is little hope that a treatment will work, the thinking goes, then treatment is withheld so that the patient can feel more comfortable.

Conventional cancer care focuses almost exclusively on the killing of cancer cells. It is considered an unfortunate but necessary side effect that these therapies also kill healthy cells, which typically leave patients feeling extremely fatigued, depleted, in pain and devitalized.

The world of naturopathic cancer care is dramatically different. The therapies see killing of cancer cells as only one of multiple therapeutic goals. We also work to optimize digestion and overall nutrition; we work to activate anti-cancer immunity; we work to relieve psychological stress and depression that is so common with cancer patients; we work to optimize physical function and activity; and many other therapeutic goals.

In delivering the therapies that pursue these goals, cancer patients feel better, not worse, and sometimes dramatically so. Even patients with advanced cancers and multiple metastases can sometimes feel energetic and active while they are being aggressively treated with naturopathic therapies.

For example, a gentleman with advanced prostate cancer came to our clinic for treatment. Before starting treatment he was extremely fatigued, his activity level very limited. After an intensive series of IV (intravenous) nutrient drips, acupuncture and other therapies, he became energetic, alert, and active. He would commonly tell us that he felt better than he had in decades, and this was a gentleman with advanced metastatic cancer!

In the world of naturopathic cancer care, treatment and palliation go hand in hand. It is not a matter of choosing one or the other. If a medical treatment has enhanced an individual’s health they should feel better, not worse, as a result of that treatment, whether it is treatment of the flu, or indigestion, or cancer.

Any individuals facing a cancer diagnosis and interested in learning about naturopathic treatment options can call to schedule a free consultation. This is limited to 30 minutes and simply gives an overview of the naturopathic treatment process. If the desire is to get a full evaluation and an intensive cancer treatment plan developed, schedule a 90 minute new patient visit.

Whether used in conjunction with conventional therapies or as stand-alone treatment, naturopathic cancer care can enhance every individual’s potential for optimal health and a positive outcome.