Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Humbling Experience

I just came from a lecture by a Chinese Prof. who has a cancer hospital in China (Fuda Cancer hospital). What is strange, was it didn't use therapies from China, but rather technologies from the USA. They have cryoablation, photodynamic therapies, dendritic cell vaccines, immunotherapy as well as chemoablation.

They claimed to have a very good success rate in increasing survival. Patients from all over have come to this hospital in Guangzhuo.

From the website, you will see some video clips of news programs about their successes especially on the patient with a large neurofibroma.

All I can say is, Prof. Xue is a brave man who will not back down on any case as long as he thinks its doable. I'm sure a lot of his colleagues would have disagreed with some of his decision to operate.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Dichloroacetate: a cheap but effective cancer drug?

This drug, Dichloroacetate (DCA) has been in the news for the past few weeks now, ever since its paper was published in the Cancer Cell journals. It showed that it can actually kill off the cancer cells by programmed cell death or apoptosis, without even harming the normal cells. A caveat though, its only been tested on mice with tumors.

However, DCA has been used for a long time now, treating patients with lactic acidosis. What is great and promising, is that this drug is cheap, and only the use of DCA AS A CHEMO DRUG has been patented by the primary investigator. The subtance itself is not.

In fact, in the Official website of the University of Alberta, they have already gotten funds for further research on humans, I presume. And of the countries that was mentioned to have given funds is my own country, the Philippines.

Wow!!! I wonder who those person/s are? I'm sure they are not doctors. :)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Cancer Survivors rides' of their lives

Often people and patients alike ask me the question of how the diagnosis of cancer will affect their lives. This question for me is one of the most important, since it will significantly affect likewise, how they will deal with it.

To make the answer as brief and as close to reality as possible, I make an analogy to it as a roller coaster ride. It is, literally a roller coaster ride! When we are sick and recovering, we climb up the rails slowly, and the steeper the angle, or sicker you are, the slower the recovery will be, and yet when you reach the plateau, you feel so good again, but its not too long. Then you get sick again, the fall is sometimes so quick, you didn't know what happened.

When patients hear this, sometimes they get so disconcerted, but like all roller coaster rides, it has to end. It is how we look at it, how we react and how we laugh or cry as we follow the troughs of life.

To some people, its a frightening adventure, and yet to some, they take it with courage and acceptance.

So who do you think will take the ride and get on with life?

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Saturday, March 17, 2007

Epoetin and cancer risk

Just got a mail that warned of FDA imposing a warning on the use of Epoetin alpha on patients with cancer. Epoetin and the other drugs of the same class are given to people with low RBCs, including patients with chronic renal disease as well as those undergoing chemotherapy.

These drugs increase the amount of RBCs which are important to cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. However, with this warning, it will cause some apprehensions now on the part of patients and doctors alike. Chemotherapy and cancer itself, can lower your blood cells.

I' m sure a lot of doctors now will think twice before giving any of these drugs. I hope that the doctors and patients will now try to look at how to improve your anemia with nutrition which, IMHO, is the best way to go about it.

I use a lot of the "Wonderful but cheap" Malunggay! (Moringa oleifera) Its very much available here in the Philippines. I ask my patients to juice them, in fact when their RBCs go down, I immediately know that they are not taking them!

Our present national hero, Manny Pacquiao, eats it before a fight! That's how much the trust of Manny to the strength giving characteristics of malunggay.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Stem Cells

I just came across a product that is claimed to have stimulating effect on a body's own stem cells. This is not like other products that uses embryos, placental tissues or from other animals. Its from Spirulina.

This would definitely be good for vegetarians and those who are against embryo harvesting.

The question remains, is that if it really does what it claims to do. There is only one study on the effect on this product among healthy volunteers. I would love to see if it can do the same for sick persons. And secondly, if it really can help improve the condition of a sick person.

I'm a bit skeptic until proven otherwise. But I would love it if this thing works. Its definitely cheaper and a better alternative

Monday, March 12, 2007


I've been doing research lately on the effect of anti-angiogenesis on cancer growth. I'm sure there are a lot of studies on it, specfically for the VEGF inhibitors for lung and colorectal cancers. But that's not the only thing that is out there.

There are a lot of herbs that also seem to arrest tumor growth by killing off the arteries that feed it. One of them is the shark cartilage. The pioneer in this field is Dr. Folkman who even wrote a chapter in the the Harrison's textbook of Medicine.

I feel sorry for the sharks but the cartilage of sharks do have anti-angiogenic factors. We just need to come up with a good way of extracting it and using it for real patients not just on cells and animals. I guess you can't patent something like that until you make a synthethic version of it.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Spilling the Beans

Yesterday, I just had a chat with a patient of mine who had stage 4 liver cancer. Like all the other conversations I had, it was just about what they were doing and what do they plan to do in the near future. I always ask this question, especially to  very ill patients, in order for them to focus on something other than their illness.

But suddenly, the conversation shifted to his problem of sleep. He stated that he wouldn't be able to sleep and that he would somehow get memories of his past. Like a movie playing at an accelerated rate, it recounted his past life ever since he could remember.

I was a bit happy for him, for this is part of the healing. The healing of the past hurts in his life, which was I would definitely say, very traumatic for anyone. Being left an orphan from a well-to-do family, he was "sold" to his second family. It was very painful for him more since he could distinctively remember he had a sister, who he has never seen again.

And yet... I was sad. For patients to be having "life reviews," it will definitely mean either they  get well or move on to the next life.
I've seen it already a few times, and this one is no exception. I just hope he will be liberated from these pains soon. Its the emotional pain that will not go away or be dulled by any pain killer.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Bravery: Women vs Men

I recently had a Breast Cancer patient with an already oozing lesion on the nipple area. She was advised to have chemotherapy prior to surgery. She refused to do the chemo, feeling that it will hasten her poor health.

Instead, she opted to have all those Vit C, B17 injections. Lost and unable to express what she really wanted to do. Unfortunately, all the MDs who told her to do this and that did not inform her that her tumor will not shrink that fast with those procedures. When she came to me for help, I explained to her, the REAL condition, and still adamant against the chemotherapy.

I see great courage when I see this kind of persons. They will hold on to their belief even if their family and friends have advised otherwise. She is the 3rd patient to refuse chemotherapy altogether without even trying one session.

I salute them for their courage, though only God will know if their beliefs will be their folly. My first patient also breast cancer, refused all conventional treatments. Her tumor was bigger than a watermelon but disappeared completely, only to metastasize to her lungs 2 years later. It was a sad moment for me. She held on that belief until the very end.

My second patient, also breast cancer, held that firm belief. Only this time, the tumor actually shrunk from 4cm to almost 0.5 cm at this time. I am quite certain that the tumour will disappear completely with her treatments, and she will not develop any metastasis anytime soon though.

This just exemplifies the courage of these extraordinary women. I have yet to encounter that same courage in men. In fact, men are less inclined to hold on a belief or principle when they are sick, and seem to be more passive with their choosing of treatment options.