Pet Cancer Post 3-No Vaccines!

October 23, 2012 on 5:40 am | In General Posts | Comments Off

Holistic-minded owners know that pets do not need and should not receive vaccines on a regular (annual) basis. Yet I’m amazed that many pets with cancer ARE vaccinated, either at the time of their cancer diagnosis, during their cancer treatment, or even just weeks to months before their diagnosis of cancer. Every cancer expert will tell you that since cancer is a dis-ease of the immune system, vaccinating the pet with cancer not only makes no sense but can prove harmful. That’s because the immune system doesn’t always react the way we expect when challenged with a vaccine. As a result, cancer can grow following vaccination and pets, who are in remission from their cancer following proper treatment, can come out of remission following vaccination. Therefore, I recommend that pets being treated for cancer NEVER receive any more vaccinations. While I understand that this might violate local rabies vaccine laws, and while I’m not here to tell you to break the law, I am here to state that for your pet’s health, he or she should not receive ANY vaccines following the diagnosis of cancer.

You can learn more about pet cancer by reading my book, The Natural Vet’s Guide to Preventing and Treating Cancer in Dogs.

Breast Cancer Post 3

October 22, 2012 on 6:18 pm | In General Posts | Comments Off

One of my favorite supplements for people (and pets) with cancer is Vitamin D3.

Research shows that most people are severely deficient in Vitamin D, even those who receive sunlight exposure. It is recommended that vitamin D3 should be a supplement most people take for its numerous health benefits, including cancer prevention.

Vitamin D kills cancer by promoting cell differentiation and supporting apoptosis (normal programmed cell death), as well as helping to prevent metastases and angiogenesis (new blood vessel formation needed for cancer to grow and spread.)

Mammographic density is considered a strong risk factor for breast cancer. Women who had a combined daily intake of 100 IU or more of Vitamin D combined with 750 mg or more of calcium demonstrated decreased breast density compared to women with lower intakes of the two nutrients, suggesting that adequate consumption of Vitamin D and calcium may reduce breast cancer risk.

Vitamin D3 works synergistically with tamoxifen to inhibit breast cancer cell proliferation.

Compared with sun-deprived women, women from lower, sunnier latitudes typically have lower rates of breast cancer. Additionally, the women from sunny places who consumed the most dietary vitamin D (from foods and supplements) enjoyed a greater breast-risk reduction than the women who consumed less dietary vitamin D (a combination of ample sun exposure and ample vitamin D intake was associated with the greatest risk reduction, compared with getting vitamin D from either sunlight or diet alone.)

The Food & Nutrition Board of the U.S. Institute of Medicine just tripled the recommended daily allowances for vitamin D3 from 200 IU for adults to 600 IU. However, most naturopathic physicians recommend at least 1000 IU per day (my wife Sandy is taking 17000 IU per day; the ideal amount should be based upon blood testing for vitamin D levels.) For cancer patients, a target goal for Vitamin D3 blood levels should be at least 60-80 ng/ml and maybe even closer to 80-100 ng/ml (most people have levels less than 35, with 35 being a minimum level for health.) New research shows that even higher daily doses of oral vitamin D3 (10,000-50,000 IU/day) are unlikely to be associated with toxicity (defined as blood levels above 200 ng/ml.) Blood levels above 100 ng/ml may increase the risk of a heart arrhythmia called atrial fibrillation, so most naturopathic doctors prefer to keep levels at 100 ng/ml or less. The best dose for each person to reach a target range of 60-100 ng/ml is best determined by blood testing due to individual response to supplemental vitamin D3.

Breast Cancer Post 2

October 9, 2012 on 5:15 pm | In General Posts | Comments Off

One of the most important questions to answer with any kind of cancer is whether or not there is cancer in a regional lymph node. Doctors have always been taught that if cancer is found in a regional lymph node, the patient must receive chemotherapy as lymph node spread is evidence the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. However, some recent research by Dr. Donald Weaver in the New England Journal of Medicine puts this “theory” into question. Dr. Donald L. Weaver started his research about 10 years ago in an attempt to answer the following questions:

How many women, whose lymph nodes are determined to be negative for cancer based upon routine H&E staining, actually have cancer cells in their sentinel lymph nodes that might be detected with the more sensitive IHC staining?

What is the significance of finding tumor cells in the sentinel lymph nodes if they are only found with IHC staining but not with the more commonly and routinely performed H&E staining?

Should IHC staining be done routinely, and what is the benefit of doing it with or risk of not doing it?

In this groundbreaking study, Dr. Weaver studied almost 4000 women over a ten-year period of time. In order to be included in the study, these women had to have early-stage breast cancer with negative lymph nodes based upon H&E staining. He then did the more sensitive IHC staining on their sentinel lymph nodes without revealing the results to their oncologists. The oncologists prescribed treatments without knowing the results of the IHC staining, instead only basing treatment upon negative findings from the routine H&E staining (and the specific characteristics of each woman’s tumor.) In this study, most of the women were treated following surgery and radiation with chemotherapy or tamoxifen therapy (usually based upon their tumor’s individual characteristics, including their recurrence scores from the Oncotype DX test.)

The goal of this study was to determine survival at 5 years following diagnosis, and take a look at whether there is a difference in survival in women whose negative lymph node diagnosis based upon H&E staining would change whether or not their IHC staining was positive or negative.

The results of the study will prove surprising for many oncologists who believe that the presence of any amount of cancer in the sentinel lymph nodes automatically worsens a woman’s prognosis and indicates that a more aggressive form of treatment be used.

In the 3,887 participants who were enrolled in Dr. Weaver’s study, the results showed that occult metastases (cancer cells only found when using the IHC staining but not found when using the H&E staining) were found in 15.9 per cent of patients whose initial sentinel node biopsy tested negative for cancer. This means that approximately 84% of women whose lymph nodes are determined to be “negative for cancer” in the operating room remain negative when using the more sensitive IHC staining. Even more dramatic however was the five-year survival rate among women who initially tested negative for cancer using the H&E stain but were found to be positive based upon IHC stain. In the study, only 1.2 women who were negative on the H&E stain but later found to be positive on the IHC stain died at 5 years following diagnosis.
Here are the actual findings from the study:

At 5 years following diagnosis, among patients with occult metastases, 94.6 percent were alive, 86.4 percent were free of recurrence (local, regional, or metastatic disease), and 89.7 percent had not developed metastatic disease. For patients without detectable occult metastases the results were 95.8 percent, 89.2 percent, and 92.5 percent, respectively.

The researchers concluded that:

The data did not indicate a clinical benefit of immunohistochemical analysis of initially negative sentinel nodes in patients with breast cancer.

Pathologists shouldn’t continue to look for micrometastases when the initial evaluation is negative and oncologists shouldn’t treat patients any differently or change therapy exclusively based on micrometastases.

Micrometastases are so small that they have very little impact on outcome - only 1.2 percent at five years.

Micrometastasis doesn’t substantially increases the risk of cancer recurrence or decreases overall survival in breast cancer patients whose sentinel nodes were initially negative for cancer based upon H&E staining in the surgery room.

His study and other have come to the same conclusion: the primary tumor characteristics are MORE important than whether or not there is involvement of the sentinel lymph nodes when minimal nodal tumor burden is present. Ultimately it is still up to each woman to decide if chemotherapy and/or tamoxifen therapy might be helpful or harmful based upon her individual tumor’s characteristics without giving too much significance to small amounts of cancer cells in 1 regional lymph node.

Pet Cancer-Post 2

October 8, 2012 on 6:48 pm | In General Posts | Comments Off

In my book, The Natural Vet’s Guide to Preventing and Treating Cancer in Dogs, one of the most important statements I make is “Don’t forget there is a pet attached to the tumor!” So often doctors (and pet owners) focus on “treating the cancer” and forget about “treating the pet.” Yet, it’s too easy to focus on the cancer rather than the patient (actually this is a common approach for many oncologists in both human and animal cancer medicine.) It makes no sense to “cure the cancer” yet the patient dies anyway. We MUST focus on the pet. Keeping the pet healthy during treatment, supporting organs such as the GI tract, liver, and kidneys (which bear the brunt of many chemotherapy and radiation therapy treatments,) supporting the immune system, and helping the pet stay “non-toxic” through detoxification will improve the prognosis and often save the patient. So no matter which type of cancer therapy you choose, don’t forget that there is a pet attached to the cancer!

You can learn more about pet cancer by reading my book, The Natural Vet’s Guide to Preventing and Treating Cancer in Dogs.

Pet Cancer-Post 1 Cancer Awareness Month

October 2, 2012 on 1:59 pm | In General Posts | Comments Off

The most important point I can stress as we devote this month to cancer awareness is the extreme importance of early diagnosis. Every week (sometimes every day!) I see pets with cancer who were never properly diagnosed by their prior doctors. These are pets with lumps and bumps on their bodies, whose owners took them to their prior doctors to have the lumps and bumps checked. Typically the prior doctor looks at the mass, feels it, and “diagnoses” a “fatty tumor” simply by the look and feel of the mass.

NO!!!! This is malpractice.

While many of these lumps are simply fatty tumors, many are malignant cancers (sarcomas and mast cell tumors.)

Here are the rules to follow-ALL masses, both benign fatty tumors and aggressive malignant cancers, look and feel the same. ALL masses are presumed to be cancerous (even though most are proven not to be cancerous) until proven otherwise. ALL masses big enough to be aspirated with a small needle should be aspirated to determine if they are benign or cancerous. ALL suspicious lumps should be removed and biopsied. Following these rules saves lives and decreases the costs to the owner, and in many cases removing small cancerous masses actually cures the cancer.

You can learn more about pet cancer by reading my book, The Natural Vet’s Guide to Preventing and Treating Cancer in Dogs.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month-Post 1

October 2, 2012 on 1:56 pm | In General Posts | Comments Off

Since it is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, here’s a tip I want to share to get things started.
One of the challenges Sandy faced was whether or not to do chemotherapy as part of her treatment. While chemotherapy may be needed by some women with breast cancer, the reality is that some, if not many, women with breast cancer don’t need chemotherapy.

Unfortunately, there is no way to predict 100% of the time which women would benefit from chemotherapy and which women do not need it. Fortunately, a test called the Oncotype DX made her decision easier. This test looks at each woman’s unique genetic tumor characteristics (the tumor is submitted following surgical removal.) Based upon the genetic markers of your tumor, the test does its best to predict whether or not you would receive substantial benefit from chemotherapy. In Sandy’s case, since her tumor type was considered less aggressive, the benefits of chemotherapy were not substantial enough for her to make the decision to take chemotherapy. In other words, the risk of chemotherapy outweighed any benefit she might receive.

The nice thing about this test is that it can save women from unnecessary chemotherapy. Unnecessary chemotherapy adds to the cost of treatment and has side effects including an increased risk of additional cancer in the future.

The interesting thing about chemotherapy is that while it is designed to kill any cells that may have escaped the primary tumor site (the breast,) there is no guarantee that it will work or is needed. If there are no cancer cells remaining after surgical removal, then chemotherapy is totally worthless and potentially harmful. If there are cancer cells that have left the breast and spread to other sites in the body, there is no guarantee that chemotherapy will kill the cells as chemotherapy is not 100% effective.

In general, chemotherapy reduces the risk of cancer growing and spreading by 30 to 50%. In other words, if a woman’s risk of future breast cancer (after the diagnosis of breast cancer) is 10%, then chemotherapy would lower her risk of future breast cancer to only 5 to 7%. In my wife’s case, that small difference was not enough to convince her to ravage her body with unnecessary chemotherapy, a decision with which her oncologists concurred thanks to her low recurrence score on the Oncotype DX test.

In place of chemotherapy, Sandy is using a number of nutritional supplements that have been clinically proven to kill cancer cells. Her hope is that these supplements will be as effective if not more effective than using chemotherapy (which she does not need.) Because supplementation is safe and without side effects, the hope is that she will get all the benefits from their use without any negative effects.

Not everyone with breast cancer needs chemotherapy. Many women fall into a gray area where you will have to make a decision based on consultation with your oncologist. The Oncotype DX test can help make your decision easier.

For more information on breast cancer, check out my latest book,
Breast Choices for the Best Chances: Your Breasts, Your Life, and How YOU Can Win The Battle!

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