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Preventative Chemo?

Posts: 295
Joined: Apr 2010

Is there such a thing? For those of you that have had cancer for years do you get a break? Then you go back on chemo? Then another break? Same Chemo or different chemo? How long are your breaks?

abrub's picture
Posts: 2173
Joined: Mar 2010

I had a set number of cycles of chemo. I've been done for 2 years. No more chemo for me unless (until, in my case) cancer comes back. Mine is expected to recur.

John23's picture
Posts: 2140
Joined: Jan 2007

"Preventative Chemo? Is there such a thing?"

In a word? No.

Chemo is designed to kill cells that are growing faster than it's
surrounding cells.

A colon cell grows at a different rate than a lung cell, so a chemical
designed to kill a colon cancer cell won't do the trick if the colon
cancer cell has taken up a new home in the lung (likewise from any
organ, to any other organ).

That's the limitation of chemical therapy - and that limitation
hasn't changed in over 40 years. They've tweaked and modified,
and combined and mixed, but whatever they do to the chemicals,
they're doing it to the same chemicals that have been used for years.

Our immune system can do the best battle against cancer cells, but
for some reason, some of us have an immune system that's ignored
the presence of a cell gone bad.

In many cases, once a cancer cell is attacked and killed, the immune
system seems to rally, and does the rest of the job for us the way it
should have been doing.

Unfortunately, the chemical therapy usually makes our immune
system so weak, it's unable to do much of anything....... and the
patient is held captive to the chemical therapy.

I should have stopped typing with the word "No", ehh?

Think healthy thoughts.


PhillieG's picture
Posts: 4912
Joined: May 2005

There are many therapies out there to kill cancer cells. Many new ones target certain attributes of the cancer and can starve or kill off the cancer cells while doing very little damage to surrounding cells. These is called Targeted Therapies. Everyone is different with how they react to chemo and how their immune systems work. I'm stage IV colon cancer and I have been off and on chemo for over 6 years. Things were quite messy at first, the cancer was in my colon, liver and lungs. I did chemo first for 6 months then have my resections done in the colon and liver at the same time along with a HAI pump which delivered chemo directly to my liver so it was targeted. The surgery and chemo stopped the cancer in my colon and liver dead in it's tracks. I have been dealing with numerous mets in my lungs since then. The main therapy I am on is Erbitux. It's not considered "typical chemo" but it is a chemical and it is a therapy, it also works in conjunction with chemo. The protocol that I have been on for the past few years is chemo (CPT11) and Erbitux and I am doing very well with the treatment keeping the tumors stable. Also, not once have I ever had a treatment postponed due to low blood counts or any other reason. I have also not have more than MAYBE 3 colds in 6 years so as far as my immune system being compromised, my answer is NO. Chemo has not affected that at all or maybe I would have had no colds in 6 years. Generally the breaks I get are for 2 months and that may happen once or twice a year. It depends on many things and again, we are all unique.

Obviously there are many ways to skin a cat (why do they pick on cats I wonder?) Some people swear by the standard chemo/surgery or surgery/chemo, others swear by a raw food diet, some swear by TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) some swear by prayer, and others just swear at cancer. One has to go with what one feels the most comfortable with. Since I am comfortable with how MY treatment and life has been going, I see no reason to change it. I have improved my diet (it's more common sense to me) and I can definitely see the benefits of incorporating meditation/relaxation techniques into my life. If I no longer was benefiting from the treatment I am doing, I would seek out other options. I am going by the "if it's not broken, don't break it" approach.

Below is some info on how it works.
How does Erbitux work?
Monoclonal antibody therapy works in a different way than standard cancer therapy, such as chemotherapy or hormone therapies. Erbitux is believed to function in three different ways:

1) Blocking tumour cell growth: Erbitux binds to the EGFR proteins (receptors) on the tumour cell surface. After binding it inhibits the cells ability to invade or spread to other tissues (metastasis). Erbitux also reduces the cells ability to attract the local blood vessels that are necessary to support further growth (angiogenesis). Erbitux also encourages the cancer cells to die when they have reached end their natural life cycle (like normal cells do) or have been partially damaged by chemotherapy (apoptosis).

2) Signalling of the immune system: After Erbitux has attached itself to the tumour cells it is able to recruit the bodies own immune system. Immune system cells, called natural killer (NK) cells, are attracted to the bound Erbitux and are then able to kill it in the same way as a foreign bacteria or virus.

3) Working with chemotherapy: Erbitux and chemotherapy work in different ways, but when given together, the two drugs can form a partnership (synergistic). Possible mechanisms for this are to encourage apoptosis (cell death) if the cell is partially damaged by chemotherapy. Furthermore, Erbitux is thought to prevent the cells repairing themselves again after partial chemotherapy damage.

Shayenne's picture
Posts: 2370
Joined: Jan 2009

...chemo isn't something that will work on you forever, it may prolong you, and could be years before it even stops working. I been on chemo for 14 months now, every other week, my tumors did shrink...some went away, but after awhile, like my onc said, the cancer gets smart and figures out away to progress...that's why they'll switch chemos to see if one will work better then the other to make it shrink.

I was on Avastin and Folfiri since Feb 2009, and my tumors just got 1 mm bigger, which prompted my once to switch me to 4 treatments of Folfox, before offering me another option of Radio Sphere, which I haven't seen or talked to a radiologist about it yet, but I see my onc on Wednesday, and am sure he'll talk more about it then :)


John23's picture
Posts: 2140
Joined: Jan 2007

The question asked, was if chemo can be used as a preventive medicine.

The answer was simple, since chemo is used reactively; it's used in an
attempt to keep cancer at bay, not to keep one from getting cancer,
or to keep one from a re-occurrence.

Or more simply, we can't get a shot of chemo to eliminate the
possibility of getting cancer in the future. It'd be great; a really
wonderful thing, if it worked like that, but unfortunately, it doesn't.
There's no "Salk Vaccine" for cancer.

More unfortunately, is the realization that if the industry doesn't
change it's course and figures out a way for our immune system
to do the battle for us, we will continue to be dependent on the
industry's chemical warfare to do our battle for us.

I think some serious speculation regarding that concept is
long overdue.

Stay healthy!


Posts: 1956
Joined: Oct 2009

it destroys good healthy cells as well as cancerous cells then how can chemo be preventative? If you didnot have cancer at all, why do chemo--it would only kill healthy cells. Chemo AFTER surgery due to cancer is to kill off any cancer cells that remain after the operation. Just my thoughts on this issue.....steve

PhillieG's picture
Posts: 4912
Joined: May 2005

you say tomahto, I say tomayto.
I may have misunderstood the question.
There's no way to prevent anything except maybe taking all of your teeth out to prevent cavities!
I was under the impression that the surgery was done and if chemo could prevent the cancer from coming back. Nothing is certain (except the 2 things Benny Franklin said) but I believe that after surgery, chemo can prevent the cancer from starting up again by killing any stray cells that may have not been removed during surgery.

I also wish the industry would look at other approaches. As usual, it comes down to dollars and not sense.

Scambuster's picture
Posts: 973
Joined: Nov 2009

Hi John, Phil and gang. Stumbled on yr post while studying up on Anti-Angiogenesis. I see you all seem aware that Chemo/Rads etc has its limitations. Are any of you taking the nutrition and immunity path to help your body fight the cancer naturally, the way it was supposed to ?

While there are the doubters and members of the flat earth society out there (and in here), there is just too much evidence now that say we need to be look at nutrition and diet as a cause and cure for cancer. Personally, I have gone full steam ahead and am now vegan and take a bunch of supplements to rebuild my beat up immune system and vital organ function, as well as digestion support so I can gain the maximum benefit from the food I do eat. I had surgery, Chemo and rads for H&N Cancer finished Tx Oct 2009. I have been seeing Naturopaths and Acupuncturists since diagnosis along with my 3 Amigos: ENT, RONC and Chemo Ali. We didn't (and still don't agree on all things, but we get along.

I was happy to stumble on a short video on www.TED.com by Dr. William Li about Anti-Angiogenesis, and it's alignment to the Nutrition based approach to treating Cancer. Worth a look. While we are all in different states or 'disrepair', I think not paying attention to this approach and relying only your doctor and the Chemo is fraught with danger. Getting your immune system working again and giving your body all the nutrients and in the right way so it can fight cancer as per the original design has to make sense, and is achievable. The outcomes of course depend on the stages we have and how much damage has been done.

I am interested to hear of any feedback.


John23's picture
Posts: 2140
Joined: Jan 2007

There are quite a number of us out here that are using alternatives
to chemo and radiation.

Click on my profile to read my path....

"2Bhealed" and "scouty" are also among the brave enough to
promote other alternatives here, so please don't feel you're all alone.

Better Health!


HeartofSoul's picture
Posts: 730
Joined: Dec 2009

For everyone that has a “success” story (long term remission or cure) on TCM who had diagnoses of cancer, how many see their condition worsen or see no difference? What source if any tracks all the patients who attempt TCM? For conventional treatments (Western Medicine), we have the data and publish so it can come under close scrutiny and exposed to critical analysis. What about TCM? I believe when comparing one system (western med) to another (TCM), we need the same criteria and data available to see the entire picture before we make the decision of our lives.

The term “cancer” involves over 100 types and many subtypes with its tumor size, stage, node involvement, grade, and an entire profile expressed in the pathology report.

There is significant difference if a survivor has non-small cell lung cancer Stage 3 either with one of the 3 main types of non-small cell lung cancer (squamous cell carcinoma, large cell carcinoma, or adenocarcinoma) vs Infiltrating Ductal Carcinoma (IDC) stage 2 or hodgkins lymphoma for a 20 year old vs ovarian cancer for a 55 year old with stage 3a.
There are also over 40 types of lymphoma’s and 120 types of brain tumors. What’s TCM version of the National Cancer Institute or ACS?

John23's picture
Posts: 2140
Joined: Jan 2007

If you would take as much time researching and understanding
the nature of Traditional Chinese Medicine as you do attempting to
cast doubt with invalid arguments, perhaps you would recognize
the gross failure of western medicine's answer to cancer and
other maladies.

There is more to TCM than you apparently understand; it is
indeed, a valid alternative.

Best health wishes to you, regardless.


HeartofSoul's picture
Posts: 730
Joined: Dec 2009

the gross failure of western medicine's answer to cancer and
other maladies.????

Just ask the millions of survivors of cancer in the US, Europe and Asia dating back the last 30 years. Start with the members here in CSN which goes back to 2001 and the posts on the boards, year by year, cancer by cancer.

I see I didnt receive answers to the valid points I made in my post above about TCM studies, data, comparisons (which another member said didnt exist for TCM). Why you only talk of the ones that it worked for and not all the people that it didnt work for? And what about a counterpart of NCI or similar data and studies for TCM like all the data that is avaialble in Western medicine via databases.

you ever hear of the PDQ database and why its so critical to treatment of cancer? This is for others that can benefit by asking their DR if they access the database and to what excent for his/her patients.

PDQ database
(it even has complementary and alternative medicine)

If a doctor is unaware of the latest and best treatments for an individual patient, all the research and all the work done and all the money spent is wasted as far as the patient is concerned. The quality of care can be compromised or lives lost if the DR and medical team is unaware of all the latest treatments available. A continually updated database of the latest treatments can instantly deliver state of the art information to any practicing physician in his or her office.

The types of information included in this database is a way for doctors to identify investigative studies by area and a resource for a comprehensive directory of physicians and treatment facilities that could be contacted for cancer care

PDQ (Physician Data Query) is NCI's comprehensive cancer database. It contains summaries on a wide range of cancer topics; a registry of 8000+ open and 19,000+ closed cancer clinical trials from around the world; and a directory of professionals who provide genetics services. PDQ also contains the NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms, with definitions for 6000+ cancer and medical terms, and the NCI Drug Dictionary, which has information on 1200+ agents used in the treatment of cancer or cancer-related conditions.

The PDQ cancer information summaries are peer-reviewed, evidence-based summaries on topics including adult and pediatric cancer treatment, supportive and palliative care, screening, prevention, genetics, and complementary and alternative medicine

PGLGreg's picture
Posts: 741
Joined: Jul 2006

HeartofSoul: "I believe when comparing one system (western med) to another (TCM), we need the same criteria and data available to see the entire picture before we make the decision of our lives."

An important method of comparison within Western medicine is the 5 year survival rate, based on clinical studies. It's conceptually simple: count how many patients with a given cancer and treatment live five years. That gives you the bottom line: does this treatment help you live longer? But how can we apply this comparison to TCM, or no-red-meat/no sugar diets, or drinking lots of fruit/vegetable juice? We would need some facts -- clinical studies to establish the survival rates of these various alternative treatments. But there are no such facts available. There is no empirical evidence showing that TCM or any of the other alternatives help cancer patients live longer, to my knowledge. There is plenty of theorizing and declaring what proponents think must be so, but no real facts. The sensible conclusion is that it's all BS.


HeartofSoul's picture
Posts: 730
Joined: Dec 2009

quoting ----- "We would need some facts -- clinical studies to establish the survival rates of these various alternative treatments. But there are no such facts available".

Thats what i thought. thanks

John23's picture
Posts: 2140
Joined: Jan 2007

"The sensible conclusion is that it's all BS."

You must be absolutely correct! Who could possibly argue with
that conclusion?

What ever was I thinking......

Ok folks..... forget TCM and any alternative, it's all been deemed
as false and useless by those that know.

I'm so sorry I attempted to steer anyone into any alternative,
since there is absolutely no proof that it could possibly work.

Forget about doing anything but what's been FDA approved
in this Nation, and continue doing whatever is approved, regardless
if you see that it's failing you, or not.

Even if your oncologist tells you there is absolutely nothing left
for you to try, with exception to chemicals that are only in the
testing stage....... DO NOT use or try any other alternative.

If all the tests fail, simply check into a hospice, and call it a day.

There's nothing else that will possibly save your life. NOTHING.

How's that, guys? Happy now?

Good health to all.....

(And yes, there are alternatives that can keep you well. Just don't
tell anyone I told you about them, ok?


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