Non-Conventional Cancer Therapies

Criteria for Evaluation and Rationales for Implementation—Helping Patients Decide
  • Susan Silberstein


As the failure of radiation and chemotherapy to cure most cancers has become more apparent in recent years, dozens of alternative cancer therapies have commanded increasing attention. However, the complex world of unorthodox modalities can be confusing to patients and practitioners alike. Overwhelmed with information from the broadcast and print media, and torn by conflicting recommendations from conventional and unconventional sources, patients left to their own devices often make bad choices or no choices.

Yet there is a place in oncology for unorthodox approaches as either adjuncts or alternatives to traditional treatments. Three different therapeutic avenues in oncology with three distinct goals illustrate the shortcomings of conventional therapies targeting tumor reduction, the ways in which selected adjuvant treatments support host resistance, and the potential for biological repair with use of appropriate alternative modalities.

Review of the major unconventional treatment classifications reveals an intriguing parallelism between experimental mainstream therapies -hyperthermias, hormone therapies and immunotherapies — and the best of the “unproven” therapies — clinical nutrition, botanical medicine and psychoneuroimmunology.

Criteria for evaluating unorthodox therapies need to be stringent, with the ideal program focusing on the essential distinction between a host-oriented and a tumor-oriented approach. When tumor reduction remains the primary goal, results with alternative therapies have been inconsistent and sometimes not significantly better than with orthodox methods. The programs which have produced the most consistent results are those which recognize the body as a self-healing mechanism by giving it the essential tools for immunocompetence and self-repair.

By respecting the common ground upon which conventional and nonconventional approaches can meet and by seeking an appropriate marriage between the body’s own natural healing potential and the best that medical science has to offer, health professionals can play an important role in helping their patients to design individualized intervention plans and to make the most effective therapeutic choices.


Tumor Reduction Therapeutic Avenue Essential Distinction Game Plan Body Chemistry 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Susan Silberstein
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for Advancement in Cancer EducationWynnewoodUSA

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