Originally published in July-August 2004 icon
Patricia Peat is a registered nurse. Following years of experience in oncology, combined with research into natural approaches to cancer she now runs Cancer Options.
Cancer Options is a specialised team of practitioners who provide individual consultancy and coaching into treatment and making decisions for all approaches to cancer.
Details of their services are available at www.canceroptions.co.uk or by calling 0845 009 2041.
Q: I am frequently having bowel problems. I suffer diarrhoea and get bloated, and I often have stomach cramps, which feel better when I have been to the toilet. My doctor tells me I have irritable bowel syndrome, but I am worried about cancer; should he not be screening me for it?
A: If you are concerned that your symptoms indicate something more serious, ask your doctor to refer you to a specialist.
He or she will probably carry out a colonoscopy to examine the lining of the lower bowel as the vast majority (80%) of tumours occur in the final third of the bowel near the rectum (due to our diets causing chronic constipation). If that is clear, it leaves you with your bowel problems.
Irritable bowel syndrome is a diagnosis used for a collection of symptoms where the doctors really have little idea of what is wrong, or how to put it right. The orthodox approach is usually anti-inflammatories and antibiotics. The opposing argument to this is that the anti-inflammatories lower the immune system, and antibiotics destroy normal gut flora, which makes the problem worse long term.
A natural approach would be to establish why the bowel is inflamed and clear the gut of any candida, thrush, parasites etc, which flourish in the bowel wall. The good bacteria is then replaced by probiotics, and a healthy balance is achieved which should get rid of the inflammation, ensure the gut wall is absorbing properly, and the bowel empties regularly and fully.
Having a healthy gut has been long recognised in the east, and thankfully more and more over here as the key to ridding the body of toxins, which lead to chronic ill health. If we lose some of our natural reticence to focus on this most untalked about part of the body, and give its maintenance the importance it warrants, the incidence of many of our chronic health problems will drop.
Q: I have taken tamoxifen in the past, though I am not on it now. I know it causes an increased risk of cancer of the uterus, but what should I be looking out for,? I also have heard about risk of endometrial cancer; is this the same thing?
A: Yes it is; the lining of the uterus called the endometrium, hence the reference. The risk from tamoxifen comes about because it creates the hormonal conditions that can pre-dispose you to this form of cancer.
Some women´s bodies do not make progesterone. Others make high levels of oestrogen. In both cases, the cells lining the uterus grow continuously and are not sloughed off regularly. This makes it more likely that precancerous changes will occur. If a woman is not treated for this, cancer of the uterus may develop. It is most common between the ages of 50 to 65 but it can also occur in younger women.
The most common symptom is abnormal vaginal bleeding, other symptoms are:
spotting or vaginal bleeding between periods
bleeding after intercourse
bleeding or spotting after six months of not having periods when not taking hormone replacement therapy
a feeling of pelvic heaviness
unusual pain and cramping in the lower belly not related to menstruation
When cancer of the uterus is diagnosed early and treated, more than 80% of women will survive more than five years. Most are completely cured. The actual risk of developing this when on tamoxifen is relatively small, so the vast majority of women will never have this problem. I presume as you read icon, you know the dietary aspects which can heavily influence the control of hormone related cancers, otherwise please contact me again.
Q: My dentist has spotted a lump on my tongue, which he thinks may be ´bad news´; he has referred me for a biopsy. I am absolutely terrified. Is there anything I can do to help things myself? I do smoke, but if I already have cancer, is there any point in stopping now?
A: There is every reason to stop smoking immediately. Oral tumours are usually caused by constant cellular irritant such as smoking, alcohol (particularly spirits) and badly fitting false teeth.
It is difficult to predict what the treatment suggested will be. If it is at an early stage, (and dentists do pick up most of these) then 80% can be cured. So, with those statistics, continuing smoking, would greatly affect your chances of getting over this.
You may be able to have just surgery, and you should ensure you are seen by a specialist oral maxillofacial surgeon for this. They will be most up to date on reconstruction techniques. If it has spread beyond the margins of your tongue, they may follow up with radiotherapy. If there is evidence it has gone into your lymph nodes, they may suggest chemotherapy to clear up any circulating cells.
With this type of cancer, good nutrition is vital. Your ability to eat will be impaired, so ensure you get as many phytonutrients and vitamins and minerals as possible. You will lose your enjoyment of eating for a while, so try to view nutrition as importantly as any other part of your treatment. If you struggle with solids, try juicing. We have a downloadable recipe book available on www.canceroptions.co.uk with some excellent recipes. Also noni juice is a great replacement for fresh nutrients. Keep your food fresh, organic, and easy to swallow, as always avoid processed sugars, salt, processed foods and hot drinks.