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Radiation therapy for cancer - making a properly informed decision

Radiation therapy
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(NaturalNews) Radiation as a cancer treatment has been used for decades. It is promoted to cancer patients as either a primary or secondary treatment of necessity for killing malignant tumors. One must be educated on the possible negative effects of radiation and the increase risk of death from radiation-induced causes so that a properly informed decision can be made.

From an Oxford University study dealing with breast cancer, it was found that women who received radiation had an increased risk of death from heart attacks because their hearts had been weakened by the therapy. Radiation also weakens the immune system and can lead to death from secondary causes like pneumonia. Many patients die from their cancer treatment, but have the side effects, such as heart failure or pneumonia, being the recorded cause of death. This is why cancer statistics can be misleading. From the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast Project, it was stated that from the data available, post-operative irradiation has provided no advantage to patients.

Radiation therapy to the abdominal/pelvis may cause nausea, diarrhea and abdominal cramping. Blood counts can be decreased by radiation therapy, especially white blood cells and platelets. Lymphedema or swelling may also occur in the legs. Bowel obstructions or ulcers can also occur due to radiation.

The rectum is the area most affected by pelvic irradiation for treatment of the prostate, cervical and colon cancer. Acute symptoms are evident with diarrhea, urinary urgency, hemorrhoids or rectal bleeding and fatigue. Pelvic irradiation can also cause ulceration, severe bleeding, stricture or narrowing of the rectum, severe incontinence and fistula. A fistula is an opening between the rectum and the skin, forming an alternative pathway for the excretion of fecal material. Fistulas also can form between the rectum and the vagina causing fecal material to enter into the vagina.

In a study following 6,428 women that were diagnosed with pelvic malignancies, researchers compared women who did and did not receive radiation therapy. Women who underwent radiation therapy were more likely to have a pelvic fracture than women who did not undergo radiation therapy. Researchers concluded up to a 200% increase in hip fracture rates following radiation treatment for pelvic cancers. Fracturing a hip leads to death in approximately 20% of those affected.

The lung is one of the most radiosensitive organs, yet is often radiated due to cancer of the esophagus, breast or lymphatic system. Common radiation effects in the lung become evident about three months after radiotherapy, with congestion, cough and shortness of breath, fever and chest pain caused by inflammation of the lungs. This inflammation can lead to scarring of the lung tissue and permanently decreased lung function.

Another option is to have alternative cancer treatment in conjunction with chemotherapy to decrease the need for additional radiation therapy. Natural alternative cancer treatment enables the body to heal from the toxic effects of the chemotherapy, while boosting the immune system's ability to kill cancer cells.

As observed, there are many possible side effects that can be associated with radiation therapy. Most side effects have a major impact on the patients' day to day activities and can impede their daily functions. Knowing that radiation can cause debilitating side effects, permanent tissue damage and can induce an increased risk of death, a cancer patient should decide if the potential benefits outweigh the risk.

Sources for this article include:

Fisher, B., et. al., "Postoperative Radiotherapy in the Treatment of Breast Cancer; Results of the NSAPP Clinical Trial," Annals of Surgery, 172, No.4, 1970.
Head Neck 30 (5): 622-30, 2008.
Support Care Cancer 18 (8): 1039-60, 2010
JAMA. 2005 Nov 23;294(20):2587-93.
Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 1978; 4:53-58.
Radiother Oncol 2001;60: 1-14.

About the author:
Dr. Keith Nemec is a holistic doctor who has been treating patients for the last 30 years. Dr. Nemec is the director of the Total Health Institute, an alternative and integrative medical facility which offers both inpatient and outpatient services. Total Health Institute is a treatment and teaching facility that has both natural physicians and alternative minded medical doctors working together as a team in Wheaton, Illinois. Thousands of people have restored their health at the Institute over the last 30 years. Dr. Nemec has published three books: "Total Health = Wholeness", "Seven Basic Steps to Total Health", "The Perfect Diet From a Macronutrient Perspective". Dr. Nemec also hosts the radio show "Your Total Health" five days a week in Chicago. For more information about Dr. Nemec and the Total Health Institute visit www.totalhealthinstitute.com

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