Sunday, 10 November 2019

Increasing effectiveness of radiotherapy part one

Philip researching
I’m likely to go for radiotherapy treatment in February next year after I have completed four months of hormone treatment. I’ve learnt there are many things you can do to increase the effectiveness of radiotherapy and reduce side effects. I hope to look at some of that in the next two blogs - of course a lot of my current protocol can continue but I want to spend more time in these blogs looking more particularly at reducing the impact of radiation side-effects and how to increase its effectiveness.

One excellent general blog that I’ve used to help put this together is by Chris Woollams - he looks at 20 ways to improve your radiotherapy experience here (i). I’ve added to some of that from other sources including a Readers Digest article (ii) and the Life Extension Foundation (iii). And as always I recommend talking to your doctor about any treatment protocol. This blog focuses on various stuff that I’ve come across to date that could help with radiotherapy while in the second part I will look at diet and supplements in more detail. I think another blog could cover what to do after radiation - but not now as there is plenty to digest here!

For background info do see my previous blog on both hormone therapy and radiotherapy; particularly regarding the radiation’s success rate, the serious longterm side-effects and that the treatment itself can cause cancer to come back stronger (iv). You can also see my blog on why I have delayed NHS treatment since my diagnosis more than two years ago (v).

So coming up I take a look at;

1. Ozone
2. Enemas
3. Hyperbaric Oxygen and exercise
4. Hydrogen
5. Homeopathy
6. Sleep and Melatonin
7. Fasting
8. Energy therapists, yoga, mindfulness, visualisations and more
9. Hyperthermia
10. Rectal barriers

1. Ozone

Ozone machine
I’ve already blogged on ozone and you can see that blog along with my video here (vi). In that blog I mentioned it’s use with radiotherapy - indeed ozone is used in nearly every German holistic clinic - it is a mandatory treatment to prepare patients long before chemo and radiation to prevent tumour lysis syndrome. Truly Heal have done a series of good videos about the use of ozone that can be found here (vii). They recommend 15ml/l with 300ml daily 6 to ten times before radiation then the same amount but only twice a week. One of the pieces of research Truly Heal quotes is worth a mention: 

“In a randomized controlled clinical trial by Menéndez, Cepero, & Borrego, (2008) they had 70 patients with prostatic adenocarcinoma, stage A and B. All patients were treated with cobalt-60 therapy (radiation) but with 35 patients they added rectal ozone. Rectal ozone was included 6 days per week at a dose of 40mg/L during the 6 weeks that lasted the radiotherapy. Within the first 2 weeks of treatment with cobalt therapy the participants had an increased appearance of side effects. However, ozone application decreased these side effects, even to the point where they didn’t have any side effects during the first 2 weeks. At the end of treatment, in 84% of the patients treated only with cobalt therapy and in 52% of the ozone group, referred to the presence of side effects, with significant differences between both groups. The prostatic specific antigen (PSA) was measured in all patients. At the beginning of the treatment no significant differences between both groups were observed. One month after finishing the treatment the PSA levels decreased dramatically. The results showed that 92% of patients treated with ozone had a PSA level below 10ng/mL. The group treated solely with radiotherapy only had 53% below 10ng/mL, indicating a significant result with ozone therapy”.

2. Enemas

Just a quick note to say that radiotherapy for prostate cancer is usually preceded by a microenema. This can be a small tube of medication that gets squirted up the rectum and leads to bowel movements. These have been shown to be more effective than doing nothing or following a high fibre diet, drinking lots and avoiding foods that cause wind (viii). I’ve also seen folks arguing for a low fibre diet. I wonder what a good diet and microenema might do? Or a full enema?

Perusing the web there is research about butyrate enemas which appear to be good for radiation proctopathy - that’s the complication that presents with damage of the mucosa, scarring, and tissue death in the rectum, and occurs in 5–20% of patients receiving pelvic radiotherapy for cancers of like prostate. In this link there are some other suggestions for managing protopathy (ix).

Read more in my blog on coffee enemas that probably won’t be suitable during radiotherapy but I need to do some more research particularly into the type of microenemas used in Gloucestershire (x).

I try to go dancing once a week as part of exercise programme
3. Hyperbaric oxygen and exercise

We know that oxygen pre-sensitises cancer cells so that more are killed by the action of radiotherapy. This goes back to 1931 and Otto Warburg who won a Nobel prize for explaining that oxygen kills cancer cells. Research at the Kansas State Medical School has shown that exercise before and during radiotherapy makes the treatment more successful - you can see my previous blogs and film on this here (xi). This makes sense, as Dr.Kenneth Conklin, MD, Ph.D. from the University of California (UCLA) points out, radiotherapy is most useful in well-oxygenated tissues (xii).

Exercise is something not to be missed with any protocol for cancer but particularly when taking hormones that can lead to significant muscle wastage - and particularly when having radiotherapy. Radiotherapy can impact very negatively so it maybe necessary to scale back somewhat on any current exercise plan? An anecdotal story from a friend said he walked every day of radiotherapy while others he was with did not; my friend noticed he had considerably fewer side effects compared to the others as the treatment progressed.

There are also several studies showing how useful Hyperbaric Oxygen (HBOT) can be in helping to minimise side-effects and even restore healthy tissue by promoting healing. See my previous blog on this here including film taken at the Gloucester Centre (xiii). The suggestion is a program of 3 sessions a week for 6 weeks to boost blood oxygen levels and reduce side effects significantly. The healing program can then go on for up to a year after the finish of radiotherapy. I am thinking to have a mix of HBOT and ozone - plus of course to continue with regular exercise.

4. Hydrogen

This is really for another blog. However it is worth a mention here since I went on a workshop earlier this year to learn more about inhalation and making hydrogen rich water. Doctors Sun, Ohta, and Nakao, in their book 'Hydrogen Molecular Biology and Medicine’ state that "According to the research, hydrogen shows a protective effect in multiple diseases” and they go onto include in that list malignant carcinoma, systematic inflammation reaction and radioactive injury. 

In terms of radiotherapy I’ve come across one study showing the positive effects of drinking hydrogen-rich water on the quality of life of patients treated with radiotherapy for liver tumors (xiia). There maybe other studies.  

Hydrogen is not supported by many in conventional health practitioners but those who do think it has an impact note that it has the ability to infuse the body with oxygen. As we’ve seen before on this blog many consider that cancer blossoms in oxygen poor environments. Jan Beute, featured in an earlier blog and in my video talking about hydrogen (xiib) says: "Hydrogen inhalation can help clear up to 90% of all free radicals in the body and is simply one of the best things you can do for your health.”

5. Homeopathy

This is a tricky one to write about as an individual homeopath will prescribe specifically to individuals. Interestingly homoeopathic remedies can be used to treat conditions but also to prevent them – the latter means that some therapists argue that homeopathic remedies for chemotherapy and radiotherapy side-effects should not be used AHEAD of treatment as they may also block the cell destroying effects of these approaches. There is a strong suggestion that until there is more research it should be used only to treat side-effects AFTER treatment. It may be one of the few times when homeopathic prevention is not better than cure. 

I’ve not yet fully researched this area but here is a comment from a friend using it: "I used - and still take (two years on) Radium Bromatum 30c, every other day, along with 4 other remedies in a complicated schedule re PCa". I understand that Radium bromatum 30c is for radiation burns as the skin may itch and burn and there may be swelling following radiotherapy.

On the CANCERactive website there is a blog by Madeleine Kingsley (ivx) where she writes: "During radiotherapy you might want to use a combination of x-ray and Belladonna. There was a research trial in Italy where women were randomised either to a daily placebo or took x-ray and Belladonna. The trial didn’t show marked results but it did show a difference in the recovery phase within the two groups, in that those randomised to homeopathy seemed to have fewer symptoms of inflammation and pain during the recovery phase once radiotherapy had finished.” Indeed a doctor (not NHS) also recommended Belladonna and X-ray, both 30c x 2 daily before radiation for a week, during radiation and after. This rather goes against my first paragraph in this section! I guess this si another one for folks to feel into their own intition and seek advice from trusted sources.
Other remedies that get a mention regarding helping to treat prostate cancer include Sabal Serrulata (can possibly reduce urine discharge at night) and Conium (good when urine flow is intermittent (vx). CANCERactive have another article here looking at homeopathy supporting the treatment of cancer (vix).

Update 4/12/19: More on X-ray remedy here - and to see about Calendula ointment on people who experienced radiotherapy-induced dermatitis (skin rashes) and Cadmium sulphuratum which apparently is widely used to treat people with cancer who experience side effects from radiation treatment see here.

6. Sleep and Melatonin

Sleeping well is crucial. Sleeping well in a dark room increases the production of melatonin in the body. This is a natural hormone that knocks you into a deeper sleep and regulates levels of oestrogen and growth hormones. It is also the largest anti-oxidant we make as animals and it is very anti-inflammatory - so basically it is more than obvious that sleep is very healing yet so many of us still try burning the candle at both ends of the day. Sloan Kettering have also done research that shows supplements of 20 mg of melatonin can improve the success of radiotherapy and reduce side-effects. However you will have to purchase in the states (or another country where it is sold over the counter) or get a friend to buy and bring back. I understand it is not illegal in the UK just not available for sale in the UK.

CANCERactive suggest (viix) "all cancer patients, especially those with hormonally driven cancers, and those on chemotherapy or radiotherapy, consider at least a 3 mg supplement. They can increase to 6, then 9 or more in stages. Some of our patients do take 20 mg without problems…..Supplements of 3 to 6 mgs are commonly taken about 30 minutes before going to bed. Levels above 10 mg have been thought to cause vivid dreams and hallucination, but there is little scientific evidence. And the growing evidence that melatonin can have an anti-cancer effect, especially when combined with chemo and radiotherapy at about 20 mg has caused people to dive straight in at that figure."

Update: 19/12/19: Great article summarising Melatonin use and cancer:  However as always take care, one social media comment was "If all these claims are true it should be making world headlines. I do take melatonin however I have a dose of skepticism especially since this doctor has numerous complaints and disciplinary actions."

7. Fasting

This needs a whole blog on this topic. Research from Chicago Medical School showed restricting calories by cutting carbs 15% (and up to 40%) in patients having radiotherapy produced better results - that is not strictly fasting but still interesting. However fasting itself can enable both chemo and radiotherapy to work better and have fewer side effects (viiix). See CANCERactive blog (ixx) and excellent general blog by Keki R Sidhwa here (xx).

Fasting seems to be a key part of quite a number of cancer protocols. I’ve not incorporated it yet as I have had very rough times in the past when fasting for more than 24 hours and I have already lost a significant amount off weight since the diet I started when I was first diagnosed with prostate cancer. However I am exploring this further ahead of radiotherapy.

8. Energy therapists, yoga, mindfulness, visualisations and more

I can’t cover this here as it is is several blogs worth - but clearly good to keep on with all this - however it is worth mentioning one visualisation, suggested to me, was to see the radiotherapy like the energy waves coming from the sun.

9. Hyperthermia

This is another big topic for another blog but wanted to mention there is research showing that when it is given with radiation or in the three hours before it can have a positive impact (xxiv). There is also evidence that sauna therapy increases the effectiveness of conventional cancer treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy (xxv).

However I can’t see how hyperthermia is possible in terms of treating myself then getting to Cheltenham for the radiotherapy. Also I have read that some like Guys and Thomas hospital recommend not using a sauna as radiotherapy can make the skin very sensitive, dry and itchy (xxvi). Of course we all respond in different ways so it maybe waiting to see regarding the the sauna.

10. Barriers

So when I was inquiring about Proton Beam Therapy I discovered they used a rectal barrier to protect the rectum from the radiation. Since then I have found that some centres using radiation also use this approach. Basically a hydrogel or "spacer" gel is injected between the prostate and the rectum - in effect creating a space between the two organs. As a result, there is much less radiation inadvertently administered to the rectum and much less collateral damage. The spacer gel liquefies over the next three months and is eventually eliminated from the body through the urine (xxii). 

This all sounds good as research has shown 'a remarkable nine out of ten patients who received pelvic radiotherapy experience chronic change to bowel habit with five out of ten reporting a significant change to their quality of life’. The initial research into spacers notes 'a significant reduction in late (3-15 mo) rectal toxicity in the spacer group was observed (2% vs 7%)' (xxiii). Sadly when talking to my consultant I was told there is only a trial in this country and Gloucestershire was not part of it. Apparently you might be able to get it privately but you would have to have the full radiation treatment also privately as Gloucestershire would not touch you with a spacer put in by someone else. This is disappointing!

Update 12/11/19: A friend sent this response regarding rectal spacers from someone in charge of radiotherapy for a health trust in another part of the country: "There are some NHS centres that have found a way to access funding for these but to be honest here we are unclear of the rules from NHS England and we have not been able to offer this. The funding seems to be restricted to certain Trusts and there needs to be strong input from the Urologists (and some availability from them) as they have to insert the spacers. Unfortunately we are also unable to offer this here and I have not heard of other centres in the region who are able to offer this. It is frustrating when NHSE brings in these rather odd processes to release funding in selective way rather than across the board..."

Update 22/11/19: I have contacted a couple of health providers for more info. Some NHS health services are happy to take patients where spacers have been fitted elsewhere. One private health provider quoted a rather prohibitive £6,000 for the spacer but 'free' if you have the full radiotherapy treatment with them; that fee could be £25k but that figure includes various other extras.

Update 28/11/19: There is a great info leaflet on the local Prostate Cancer website - see here (xxvii). 

I’m sure I will find other approaches to add to this list but next comes a blog on diet and supplements for radiotherapy. I also then need to narrow down what I plan to do.

See part two of blog here.


Yes I know I got my Roman numerals in a twist at one point but reckon they still make sense below!

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