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5 Alternatives to Cancer Treatment: Exploring Your Options

In the domain of cancer treatment, chemotherapy stands as a formidable weapon against the disease. However, it has its drawbacks. The potent drugs used in chemotherapy can cause significant side effects, ranging from nausea and hair loss to fatigue and anemia. Understandably, many individuals diagnosed with cancer seek alternative for cancer treatment that offer effectiveness without the harshness of chemotherapy. This article delves into some of these chemotherapy alternatives, such as immunotherapy, photodynamic therapy, and laser therapy.


We'll explore their benefits and risks, providing valuable insights for those considering options for treating cancer without chemotherapy.


At Proactive Choice, Dr. Collins works with holistic Oncologists and other healthcare professionals to provide individualized treatment plans that fit the patient's needs.


Radiation, Chemotherapy, and Surgery all have their place, and second and third opinions are always helpful.  Dr. Collins sees himself as an ambassador to the scientific community, and much of his service for cancer patients explains their situation and options based on current science as well as ancient principles of wellness.


5 Cancer Treatments That Aren’t Chemotherapy

5 Alternative Cancer Treatment Options to Consider


 
 

1. Photodynamic therapy

  

Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a cancer therapy alternative utilizing light from a laser or another source to activate drugs (usually phyto -pigments or  Methylene  Blue designed to eliminate cancer cells. Primarily employed as a localized therapy, PDT targets specific areas of the body. Approved by the FDA, PDT is effective in treating various cancers and precancers, such as actinic keratosis, basal cell skin cancer, and non-small cell lung cancer. Additionally, it aids in managing symptoms in cases where tumors obstruct airways or the throat. However, PDT is applicable only for treating tumors on the skin, just beneath the skin, or within the lining of organs and cavities. The process involves administering a photosensitizer drug, either orally, topically, or intravenously, which cancer cells absorb over 24-72 hours. Upon exposure to light, this drug interaction generates oxygen, effectively destroying cancer cells.


Benefits:

 

  • PDT targets cancerous cells while sparing healthy ones, minimizing damage to surrounding tissues.

  • It doesn't cause scarring, making it suitable for skin cancers and precancers.


Risks:


  • PDT may harm normal cells, resulting in side effects like burns, swelling, and pain.

  • Other potential effects vary depending on the treatment area, including difficulty swallowing, shortness of breath, stomach pain, and skin issues.

  • Light sensitivity may persist for some time after treatment.


Comparison: 


  • Like chemotherapy, PDT is non-invasive and can be done on an outpatient basis.

  • However, PDT cannot treat cancers in areas inaccessible to light or cancers that have metastasized.


2. Laser therapy


Laser therapy is an alternative cancer treatment to chemotherapy in which a doctor uses a concentrated beam of light to target and eliminate small tumors and precancerous growths. Additionally, it can help shrink tumors obstructing parts of the digestive system and manage symptoms like bleeding. Surgeons may employ lasers to seal nerve endings or lymph vessels post-surgery, minimizing pain and swelling and preventing the spread of tumor cells. In some cases, doctors utilize lasers in Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) to activate photosensitizing agents for treatment.


Benefits:


  • Laser precision: Enables tumor removal without harming surrounding tissues.

  • Reduces pain, bleeding, infections, and scarring.

  • Procedures may be quicker compared to traditional tools.


Risks:


  • Health risks if safety precautions aren't followed.

  • Both patient and surgical team must wear eye protection.

  • Limited availability: Fewer professionals trained to use lasers, and fewer hospitals and clinics have them due to cost.


Comparison with chemotherapy:


  • Laser therapy treats skin or internal organ cancers and precancers.

  • Cannot reach tumors in areas inaccessible to the laser, unlike chemotherapy.


3. Immunotherapy


Immunotherapy is a kind of biological treatment that helps your body's natural defenses fight and get rid of cancer. It comes in different forms and works by training your immune system to find and destroy cancer cells. As an alternative medicine cancer treatment, immunotherapy also helps boost your immune cells and strengthen your body's response against cancer.


Benefits:


  • Harnesses the power of the immune system to precisely target cancer cells while protecting healthy cells.


Risks:


  • May cause reactions as it stimulates the immune system, leading to side effects like fever, chills, and fatigue.

  • Some types of immunotherapy may result in swelling, weight gain, heart palpitations, or diarrhea.


Comparison with Chemotherapy:


  • Unlike chemotherapy, which directly attacks cancer cells, immunotherapy prompts the immune system to continually adapt.

  • If a tumor escapes detection, the immune system can reevaluate and launch further targeted attacks.

  • Immune system memory allows for a rapid response if cancer returns.


4. Targeted therapy


Targeted therapy is an alternative medicine for treating cancer. It is a personalized approach to cancer treatment. Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, doctors use precision medicines to treat individuals. These medicines come in two forms: small molecule drugs that can enter cells easily, or monoclonal antibodies that attach to specific targets on cancer cells. The targeted approach of this alternative cancer therapy helps to tailor treatment to the unique characteristics of each person's cancer, potentially leading to more effective and less harmful outcomes.  Usually these are drugs in experimental trials and don’t refer to natural substances.


Benefits:


  • Precise targeting of cancer cells while sparing healthy cells.

  • Assists the immune system in destroying cancer cells.

  • Halts cancer cell growth and prevents tumor formation.

  • Delivers toxic substances to cancer cells or deprives them of necessary hormones.


Risks:


  • Side effects may include diarrhea, liver problems, blood clotting issues, and wound healing complications.

  • Fatigue, increased blood pressure, and skin problems may also occur.

  • Genetic testing may be necessary, with a slight risk of privacy concerns regarding health records.


Compared with Chemotherapy:


  • Like chemotherapy, targeted therapy aims to inhibit cancer cell growth and kill cancer cells.

  • Unlike chemotherapy, targeted therapy focuses on specific proteins involved in tumor formation and development.


5. Hormone therapy


Some cancers rely on hormones to grow, so blocking or altering these hormones can halt cancer growth. Hormone therapy is commonly used by doctors as breast cancer alternative therapy, and also endometrial and prostate cancers that depend on sex hormones for growth.


Benefits:


  • Most hormone therapy is in the form of oral medications, which individuals can take at home without the need to visit a clinic or hospital for injections.

  • Some hormone therapies may require injections at a treatment center or clinic.


Risks:


  • Hormone therapy can lead to side effects, which vary depending on the treatment.

  • Males undergoing hormone therapy for prostate cancer may experience decreased sex drive, erectile dysfunction, bone loss, fatigue, and weight gain.

  • Females undergoing hormone therapy may experience reduced fatigue, nausea, sexual desire, bone loss, and a higher risk of other cancer types.


Comparison with Chemotherapy:


  • Hormone therapy is equally effective as chemotherapy for certain breast and prostate cancers.

  • However, a 2019 study on localized breast cancer found that hormone therapy might negatively impact the quality of life more than chemotherapy for some individuals.


NOTE: Dr. Collins calls conventional treatments “Oncological Hormone Therapy” and “Anti-hormone Therapy” because the drugs block hormones (usually Estrogen or Testosterone). In most cases, Dr.Collins thinks that healthy outcomes demand high levels of all hormones and that the change in cancer cells depends on many other factors. Sometimes, Dr. Collins will prescribe balanced hormone therapy to cancer patients with appropriate lab work.


Conclusion


In conclusion, while chemotherapy remains a powerful tool in fighting cancer, its effectiveness comes with the risk of serious side effects due to its impact on healthy cells. However, the emergence of alternative treatments of cancer, like photodynamic therapy, laser therapy, immunotherapy, targeted therapy, and “anti”-hormone therapy, offers hope for individuals seeking options with potentially fewer risks. Individuals need to consult with medical professionals to explore and determine other treatments for cancer besides chemo based on their specific needs and circumstances.


Want to consult a holistic medical practitioner in Oregon? Please take a look at the links below.



More From Dr Collins


 
About The Author: Dr. Collins

Author: Dr. Collins

Dr. Collins is a Pacific Northwest native and University of Oregon graduate in biology and comparative religions, practicing Naturopathic Medicine. Committed to harmonizing ancient traditions with modern science, he prioritizes holistic patient care in Oregon.



 


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