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Cancer is a generic term for a large group of diseases that can affect any part of the body. Other terms used are malignant tumours and neoplasms.

A defining feature of the disease is the rapid creation of abnormal cells that grow beyond their usual boundaries, and which can then invade adjoining parts of the body and spread to other organs through the lymphatic system or bloodstream. The process whereby a disease spreads from one organ to another is referred to as metastasis. Metastases are the major cause of death from cancer.

There are over 200 different types of cancer. For example, the cells which make up the lungs can cause lung tumour. Furthermore, organs are made up of different types of cells, so there are different types of lung cancer.

This is a leading cause of death worldwide and accounted for 10 million deaths in 2020.

A significant proportion of tumours can be cured by surgery, radiotherapy or chemotherapy, especially if they are detected early. It is estimated that more than 30 percent of deaths can be prevented.

How can we help?

Due to Cancer laws in the UK, it is illegal to make statements or give advice about the treatment of Cancer using integrative medicine. We are therefore very restricted in what we can say in this article.

The diagnosis and treatment of tumours were discussed more than 2000 years ago in the Yellow Emperor’s Inner Canon, the classical text of Chinese medicine.

Our clinic has seen many thousands of clients who are undergoing Cancer treatment with their doctors. Chinese Medicine can assist in the reduction of certain side effects, ease pain, improve appetite and increase energy levels. Additionally, Chinese Medicine is effective in improving mental health, reducing stress and anxiety and enhancing feelings of well-being and positive outlook.

Supportive treatments typically consist of a tailored blend of acupuncture and highly personalised herb formulas, alongside lifestyle recommendations and advice. They are aimed at restoring immune system health while targeting any underlying imbalance and relieving uncomfortable symptoms. 

How quickly will you see results?

We usually recommend a course of 3 to 4 weeks of acupuncture sessions and herbal formulas, to start seeing improvement in symptoms. However, acupuncture can often bring immediate relief to symptoms such as nausea, malaise and emotional distress.

For side effects of radio or chemotherapy, it is typically recommended to start treatment prior to the radio/chemotherapy course and continue for its entire duration.

About Cancer

Cancer – also known as malignant tumour and neoplasm – is an umbrella term that refers to a broad range of diseases that can impact any system or tissue in the body.

Their defining feature is an abnormal change in the behaviours of cells. The way that these cells metabolise energy changes and they resist apoptosis (programmed cell death).

The truth is that we are still unsure as to the cause of these cell changes. Theories regarding the mutation of DNA are widespread yet seem to be inadequate. In fact, it seems more likely that the cytoplasm and associated mitochondria may have a more pivotal role in Cancer which may be more of a metabolic and inflammatory disease.

Cancer occurs when the damaged cells, instead of being destroyed, rapidly grow and multiply, sometimes spreading to other tissue and organs through the lymphatic system or bloodstream – a process referred to as metastasis.

Experts agree there is no single cause for cancer. Scientists believe cancers arise from a complex combination of genes, environmental factors and behaviours associated with increased cancer risk, such as unhealthy diets, overweight and physical inactivity, smoking and alcohol consumption.

Some chronic infections too, such as Hepatitis B and C viruses, HIV and some types of HPV are among the possible causes.

Knowing your risk factors, prevention through lifestyle changes and early detection are crucial and can give you better chances of a successful recovery. In fact, a significant proportion of tumours can be cured especially if they are detected early.

Making sure that your treatment is well-rounded and that you are supported both physically and mentally is also essential on your way to better health.

Western Medicine View

In the Western medical view, there is no definite cause for cancer. A wide variety of factors are thought to potentially trigger the development and spread of cancerous cells. These, generally, include environmental factors, infections, emotional distress, genes and family history as well as poor lifestyle and dietary choices.

Ageing is another fundamental factor. The incidence of cancer, in fact, rises dramatically with age, most likely due to a build-up of risks for specific cancers combined with the tendency for cellular repair mechanisms to be less effective as a person grows older.

New treatments, drugs and approaches are being developed and tested continuously. Therapies are aimed at curing the disease or considerably prolonging life while improving the patient’s quality of life.

Standard treatments typically include surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy, depending on the type and stage of cancer. Psychosocial support is also highly recommended to both patient and family members.

Some of the most common tumour types, such as breast cancer, cervical cancer, oral cancer and colorectal cancer have higher cure rates when detected early and treated according to best practices.

Some of the other types of the disease, even though disseminated, such as leukemias and lymphomas in children, and testicular seminoma, have high cure rates if appropriate treatment is provided.

An important component of treatment is palliative care, that is, treatment to relieve, rather than cure, symptoms caused by cancer. Palliative care can help people live more comfortably. It is particularly needed when a patient is in advanced stage of cancer where there is little chance of cure.

The understanding of Cancer is changing and Western Medicine needs to adapt to these new ideas especially related to the metabolic and inflammatory theories of Cancer in order to provide the mouse complete care for patients.

Chinese Medical View

Cancer as a malignant tumour has been long recognized by Chinese Medicine. The earliest Chinese written record of a tumour was discovered in the oracle bones of Yin Dynasty in the 14th century B.C. and the Chinese word for cancer was first used in a Song Dynasty medical book in 1171.

In the Chinese medical view, all diseases, including cancer, reveal an underlying imbalance of one or more systems and can be caused by external pathogens, or by the inability of the body to maintain homeostasis.

Hence, the major idea underpinning the Chinese Medicine approach to health and disease is that of strengthening body resistance, nourishing and supporting the body’s innate healing ability while also eliminating pathogens and addressing both the manifestation and root cause of the imbalance.

Treatments for supporting cancer patients, mentally and physically, will be highly personalised and outlined in an integrated way based on the specific needs, circumstances and any treatment or therapy in place.

Chinese Medicine is not a substitute for conventional medicine. It is imperative that whilst seeking Chinese medical treatment, patients must continue to pursue treatments prescribed by their GPs or consultants.

Further Research

We highly recommend seeking out further information. A great starting place is the Yes to Life charity. To read more about the metabolic theory of Cancer we recommend reading ‘Tripping over the Truth’ by Travis Christofferson. A new theory of Cancer is proposed in the book ‘Cancer through another lens’ by Mark Lintern.

Lifestyle Advice

More than 30 per cent of cancer could be prevented by understanding risk factors, keeping our health in check and implementing healthy lifestyle and dietary choices.

Following a lifestyle which reduces inflammation and maintains good metabolic flexibility is crucial. Here are some tips to keep you healthy:

  • If you are a smoker, try to quit or smoke as little as possible, as tobacco has been linked to cancer.
  • Limit sugar radically – refined sugars are inflammatory and impact metabolic health.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Drink high-quality teas rich in polyphenolic compounds.
  • Keep a healthy weight.
  • Eat nutritious, whole foods. Make sure to include plenty of green and leafy vegetables.
  • Limit or avoid alcohol, fried and processed foods, dairy, and sugary food that can increase inflammation.
  • Manage stress. Practise Yoga, Tai Qi or meditation, or find ways to unwind that work for you.
  • Reduce exposure to sunlight or use sunscreen when outdoors.
  • Vaccinate against human papillomavirus (HPV) and hepatitis B virus (HBV).

If you are undergoing or will undergo cancer treatment, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.


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