Effectiveness of Holistic Treatments for Cancer

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Writing 111
Researched Argument
5-12-2011
Effectiveness of Holistic Treatments for Cancer
In the medical field, it is tradition to treat a diagnosis with modern medicine. When someone hears the word “cancer”, they immediately think of chemotherapy. The problem with chemotherapy is that the process is invasive, causing a lot of pain and suffering, and worst case scenario, the patient does not respond to the therapy. Is there another method to treat cancer? There have been claims of a more natural approach suggesting that proper diet and nutrition help fight against cancer, such as the Gonzales or Gerson therapy. Others attempt to fight cancer, with the usage of mega-doses of vitamins, such as C and D. These therapies seem to be a viable alternative to treat cancer, but how effective are these methods? Although the medical field is ridden with controversial options for the betterment of patients, the focus of this essay looks at the benefits and issues from several options when addressing the widespread disease of cancer. I would like to argue that nutrition and alternative treatments can be just as effective at treating cancer patients as traditional therapies, if not more effective.

In order to measure the effectiveness of a treatment we would look at the survival rate versus the death rate in the treatment, we will go with the majority. We will have a point system from one to ten, ten being the best and five being undecided while one being the worst. We would also take in considerations of the long term effects of the treatment however, we will not account it to the point system, as measuring the fitness of an adverse effect is fairly difficult. For example, if the death rate with a certain treatment is seventy percent then it will receive a numerical value of three. If death rate of a certain treatment is not determinable then it would receive a default of one.

Cancer is the uncontrolled mitotic division of cells creating tumors. These tumors can either be benign tumors meaning that they are not cancerous but do grow in size, or malignant tumors which are cancerous because they grow and spread around the body through a process called metastasizing. In order for the cancer cells to move away from the primary tumor, they must first rearrange their cytoskeleton and attach themselves to other cells and the extracellular matrix (from protein indictors outside their plasma membranes) the cancer cell then detaches and migrates by crawling. Often they hit a thick layer of proteins and glycoproteins surrounding a tissue (basal lamina or basement membrane). They get through this with the help of digestive enzymes which degrades the proteins in the basal lamina and allow them to proceed in migrating. Cancer cells also have enzymes called matrix metalloproteases, which cut the proteins that inhibit the migration of cancer cells. One pathway of metastasis is through the blood stream (one form of metastasis out of many), where they enter and exit another location; most of these cells when migrating as the immune system can recognize the cancer cells, or the cancer cells themselves become damaged. However if a cancer cell do survive they leave the blood stream and perform angiogenesis; the growth of blood vessels (overview of metastasis, cancerquest.org).

How does chemotherapy treat cancer? Chemotherapy is a type of treatment in which chemical drugs are used to destroy cancerous cells. These drugs are given for a number of reasons: decreases the size of tumors (making it easier for removal for surgery), enhance other treatments (such as radiation therapy), and most importantly controlling cancer. Chemotherapy is effective because it prevents the copying of cellular components required for cellular division, they eliminate enzymes the cancer cells needs to survive, and they trigger apoptosis (programmed cell death) (what is chemotherapy?, curesearch.org). There are numerous drugs out on the market, and chemotherapy involves...
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