Aug 26, 2012 - 9:44 am
Not trying to re-open a can of worms, but I’m well aware that there are 2 primary schools of thought here on treatments: Western vs TCM.
Both have their plusses and minuses; each will work for some, and not for others, and unfortunately, we can’t always know which is our personal best option. I tend to lean towards complementary treatments – balance the treatments out with each other. But I’m not starting that discussion here.
However, one thing I’ve noticed, particularly with my specific, rare cancer (Appendix cancer) is that of the 2 Western treatments, more people go for the more aggressive treatment (HIPEC) than the slightly less aggressive format of debulking followed by multiple cycles of IntraPeritoneal (EPIC)chemo (non-heated.) In many cases, the research hasn’t shown that one is better than the other; more drs are doing HIPEC than EPIC. My specialist, an Appendix Cancer expert at Memorial Sloan Kettering (where they don’t do heated IP), stated that for my type of cancer, the heated chemo carried no advantages, but did carry higher risks. (By the way, he refers out if he feels HIPEC is warranted.)
I provide a lot of support to fellow appendix cancer patients, and am finding for the most part, that while they may meet with drs at MSK, and discuss EPIC, they’ll opt to go elsewhere and have HIPEC, under the assumption that more aggressive treatment is better. (And that is the treatment that the support groups state is the only options – I’ve been put down as “just lucky” for having opted not to have HIPEC in my successful treatment for my Stage IV cancer.)
Yet, we do know that most cancer treatments, HIPEC/EPIC included, damage healthy cells and tissue as well as diseased tissue. For an unknown chance of more cancer fighting, patients are opting for a treatment with much higher complications. I’m almost 5 years out from EPIC, and functioning perfectly normally. My local onc had 2 other appendix ca patients after me, both of whom opted for HIPEC after their meetings at MSK. In one, her cancer was not treatable (and she probably would have sucbed regardless of the treatment chosen.) The other is ostensibly “cured” – NED (as am I). However, the damage done to her internal organs leave her with constant significant digestive problems, obstructions, and a requirement to be near the bathroom at all times. I think it is important for people to understand that treatment has consequences, and we must weigh “cure” vs quality of life. (Side note – my dr thinks I may be cured, and I have excellent “normal” quality of life.)
I guess what I’m saying is to think before jumping for the “big guns”; know what you are getting into, and what you are willing to sacrifice. The immediate response to being told you have cancer is to do anything to blast the beast out – KILL, KILL, KILL. However, it is important to step back and decided what consequences are worth the level of treatment you are selecting. I know I’m very happy with my choices.
Just my opinion….