C Teo, C Im-Teo
C Teo, C Im-Teo. Terminal, Vegetable-state Colon Cancer Patient Revived by Herbal Therapy: A Case Study. The Internet Journal of Third World Medicine. 2005 Volume 3 Number 2.
Poh (not the real name), a 54-year old female was diagnosed with Duke's C colon cancer. She underwent surgery, followed by radiotherapy and oral chemotherapy. She suffered severe side effects and consequently was unable to walk. She was confined to bed unable to move and was reduced to a state of vegetable. She was only bones and skin and was under palliative care. She was started on herbs and within three months she was able to walk and bounced back to a normal life.
Declaration of Interest
The senior author is a practising herbalist and therefore has financial interest in the herbs mentioned in this article. However, please note that these herbs are not commercially available and has to be specially prescribed by the author.
Colorectal cancer represents the third most common cancer we encountered at our centre in Malaysia. The disease affect both male and female (43.2% and 56.8% respectively). Our data also showed that this cancer predominantly affect those 50 years old and above. Our experience with colorectal cancer fairly reflects the world situation. In the US, colorectal cancer is also the third most common cancer affecting Americans. (1). According to the World Health Organization (WHO) lung cancer is the most common cancer worldwide, followed by cancer of the breast, and colorectal cancer (2)
Colorectal cancer is said to be a disease of the affluent societies. The causes of colorectal cancer are attributable to environmental factors (80%) and genetic predisposition (20%) (3). It is also said that a major cause of colorectal cancer is a diet rich in fat, refined carbohydrates and animal protein, combined with low physical activity. Epidemiological studies suggest that risk of colorectal cancer can be reduced by decreasing meat consumption (particularly processed meat) and increasing the intake of vegetables and fruit (2).
Diets high in fiber are associated with a decreased risk. The mechanism for protection by high-fiber diets may be related to less exposure of the colon lining to environmental carcinogens, as the transit time through the bowel is faster with a high-fiber diet than it is with a low-fiber diet (3).
In Malaysia, surgery is the most popular, first line treatment for colorectal cancer, followed by chemotherapy and radiotherapy. It is claimed that for those with early stage disease which has not spread, surgery is curative. The five-year survival for this group of people is greater than 90%. However, not many people are so fortunate as to detect the cancer early enough. Most of the time (61% of the cases) the disease is detected or diagnosed too late. Once the cancer has metastastised to nearby organs (such as the lymph nodes, liver, etc.) the 5-year relative survival rate is less than 10% (1).
Radiation therapy is used as an adjunct to surgery. But its usefulness is limited as the small and large intestine do not tolerate radiation well (3).
Chemotherapy is a standard treatment after surgery. The drug 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) combined with leucovorin or levamisole is often used. For those who do not tolerate intravenous injection, oral drugs such as Xeloda or capecitbaine or UFT (ftorafur and uracil) are used. Both these drugs are converted into the active form of 5-fluorouracil within the body (4).
The treatment with chemo-drugs after surgery is said to reduce the rate of recurrence by about 17% and reduce mortality by about 13.5% as compared to surgery alone without chemotherapy (5). The work of Wolmark et al. (6) indicated that additional treatment with chemotherapy after surgery resulted in 8% increase of 5-year survival compared to surgery alone. However, chemotherapy does come with severe side effects and toxicity.
However, the analysis made by Morgan et al. (7) showed that the contribution of chemotherapy to the 5-year survival of patients with colon and rectum cancer was only 1.0% and 3.4% respectively.
Given the above facts, we propose that there is a role of complementary therapy in the management of colorectal cancer. We also propose that the advantage of 17%, 6% or 1.0% due to chemotherapy may perhaps be replaced by herbal and diet-lifestyle change. This is not only cost-effective but is also free from severe chemotherapy-induced side effects. Complementary herbal therapy is one modality which we, in the developing nations, may wish to consider looking at seriously.
Poh, 54-year old female, had a 14 cm tumour in her distal sigmoid colon (Figure 1). She underwent surgery. The cancer was staged as Duke's C. About two weeks after surgery, Poh underwent twenty-five times of radiation treatment and at the same time took the oral chemo-drug, Xeloda. Within a week after being on Xeloda, Poh became uncomfortable. Her heart beat was rapid and she had difficulty breathing. The doctor stopped her Xeloda and replaced it with UFT. Before Poh could even finish a course of UFT, her legs weakened and her entire person had lost strength. She could not walk and had to be confined to a wheelchair. MRI of her brain did not show any evidence of metastasis. There were, however, disc bulges at C5/C6, L3/L4, L4/L5 and L5/S1. This was diagnosed as lumbar spondylosis.
Poh was under palliative care at a nursing home. She was indeed in bad shape. She was on morphine and had to lie down in bed unable to move by herself. If she were to get up, she would feel breathless. At one time, she had to be admitted into the ICU for twelve days.
Poh's husband and son came to seek our help on 4 November 2005. With tears in his eyes, he related his wife's story. He said:
The family spent about RM 50,000 for her treatment. With anger and frustration her husband said:
The first thing I (Chris) suggested to the family was to move her out of the Lotus Home and bring her home. I suggested that the family take care of her diet, for eating
These were what happened after Poh started taking the herbs. Every conversation between Chris and her family members during each visit was videotaped.
As of this writing, Poh is doing well. She is able to do all her house chores and is regaining her health with each passing day.
She was chatting with the author without any problem.
Chris K. H. Teo Fax: 604-6580422 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.cacare.com