|| Selecting a cancer clinic can be daunting.
Most mainstream oncologists are disapproving of alternative therapies
because they are unfamiliar with them. In addition, there are few
studies (in patients) to assess the value of these treatments. Nonetheless,
for many cancer patients, reputable cancer clinics do improve their
quality of life and, in some cases, also extend survival.
Here are five points to consider when selecting an alternative,
complimentary or integrative cancer clinic:
|Some Definitions: Complementary and alternative medicine
(CAM), also referred to as integrative medicine, is defined
as interventions not taught widely in US medical schools and
not generally available in US hospitals. CAM treatments can
include a broad range of healing philosophies, approaches, and
therapies. A therapy is generally called complementary when
it is used in addition to conventional treatments; it is often
called alternative when it is used instead of conventional treatment.
The Doctor - Clinics that treat cancer are only as good as their
practitioners. Where was the doctor trained? What type of medical licenses
do they hold? What are their research interests and experience? What have
they published? How long have they treated cancer patients? You should
be able to talk to the doctors and ask these questions before you become
The Patients - What is the clinic's experience with patients like
you? Has the clinic treated patients with the same type and stage of cancer
as yours? How well have these patients done? Can you speak to these patients
or their families? You should ask the doctor or administrator if you can
contact any of their patients. If this is a problem because of privacy
laws, you can visit the clinic, spend some time in the waiting room, and
speak with the patients who come through. You can ask them what kind of
cancer they have, how long they have been treated, what is their opinion
of the doctors and treatments.
The Staff & Premises - Like most healthcare settings, patients
spend a great deal of time being cared for by nurses and other staff.
Therefore, the attitude of the staff is also a consideration. How well
does the staff treat their patients? Do they seem hurried and tired? Are
they calm, patient, professional and courteous? Do they communicate well?
Is there a feeling of optimism and confidence? What about the premises.
Are they clean? Is the equipment new? Visit the clinic and keep your eyes
The Treatments - What are the main therapies and what is known
about them? Is there scientific evidence to support their use? Are they
effective? Are they safe and non-toxic? A search on Pubmed
can get you started as can various books on alternative therapies.
Timing - Most patients go to cancer clinics after orthodox medicine
has failed them. At this point, the mainstream therapies have run their
course providing a great deal of toxicity and limited efficacy. The patient's
immune system is often decimated, the cancer has spread, and the patient's
energy is depleted. Even in these cases, clinics can often provide a better
quality of life. The best successes, however, in extending the lives of
patients are often achieved in those individuals who have not undergone
the full toxicity of orthodox therapies.