New Choices for Colon Cancer Patients
Riley Powell taught high school English, and spent her summers training horses at a nearby dude ranch. When she noticed blood in her stool, she thought it was hemorrhoids, from spending so many hours on horseback. But when it persisted, she saw her doctor. At age 34, she was diagnosed with colon/rectal cancer, and was advised to have surgery and a colostomy. Powell opted to travel out of the country for non-invasive treatment that would eliminate the need for a colostomy bag. Powell was one of nearly a million Americans seeking alternative treatment outside the US last year.
Over a hundred thousand Americans will be diagnosed with colon/rectal cancer this year, and half of them will die of the disease. This is the fourth most common cancer in the US, and usually strikes older Americans. There is no known cause, and early colorectal cancer often has no symptoms.
When symptoms do develop, they include blood in the stool, diarrhea or constipation, narrow stools, gas and cramping, fatigue, weight loss and nausea or vomiting.
Powell had a fecal occult and a carcinoembroyonic antigen (CEA) blood test, a colonoscopy, digital rectal exam and an endorectal ultrasound. A chest X-ray was done to look for spread to the lungs.
When cancer is confined to the colon, surgery followed by radiation and chemotherapy is the standard treatment in the USA. Powell’s cancer was in both the colon and the rectum. When the cancer is in the rectum, a colostomy is also recommended.
The surgeon creates a stoma, or new opening in the abdomen called a colostomy. A bag is fitted over the stoma to collect waste. Complications include being unable to control bowel movements or urine, vomiting, bloody stools and tender skin.
“My grandfather had a colostomy when I was barely a teenager. I remember that my grandmother had to help him with it, and he was humiliated. I remembered how he looked going through chemotherapy – he was miserable, looked like a skeleton and lost all his hair. I didn’t want to go through that,” Powell said.
Powell spent weeks researching alternative treatments. She spoke to her acupuncturist, a nutritionist and her gynecologist. She talked with a friend who had gone to Germany for breast cancer treatment, and finally sent her test results to Klinik Marinus, a small private clinic just outside of Munich.
Klinik Marinus is tucked away at the foot of the Alps, in the Bavarian countryside. The clinics boasts spacious suites, gourmet organic food served in the dining room, fresh flowers everywhere and a very caring English speaking staff. They offer local radio frequency hyperthermia, thymus peptides, photopheresis, and a host of other non invasive treatments.
Hyperthermia uses a very specific frequency of radio wave to kill cancer cells. This therapy has been the cancer treatment of choice in Europe for over 25 years. Specific sound frequencies heat and kill cancer cells, without harming normal cells. Hyperthermia exposes tissues to high temperatures (up to 133 degrees) to damage and kill cancer cells. During local hyperthermia, heat is applied to a very small area (tumor). With a rise in temperature to 106 degrees for one hour within a tumor, the cancer cells are destroyed. Different types of energy may be used to apply heat, including microwave, radiofrequency and ultrasound, depending on the tumor location. The treatment is non-invasive and painless.
The National Cancer Institute (NCI) recommends colonoscopies beginning at age 50, and earlier if there are risk factors present. Pre-cancerous growths can be easily removed during a colonoscopy, and according to the NCI is the best way to prevent colorectal cancer. Yet over 40% of Americans over 50 have not been screened. New digital colonoscopy, or CTC, is done without sedation and recovery is quick, but can be uncomfortable when the bowel is briefly inflated with carbon dioxide. Both procedures require a strong liquid laxative to cleanse the bowel. There is less risk of a bowel puncture and significantly less cost with a CTC, but if polyps or lesions are discovered, a standard procedure must be done to remove them.
Surgery, chemotherapy and radiation are still the standard colorectal cancer treatments in the USA. Nearly a million US citizens leave the country each year seeking less invasive, gentler treatments. Those numbers just keep increasing, as patients find alternative treatments that let them enjoy life, continue to work and improve their health. Freedom of choice, for many, is choosing a clinic outside the country.
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