In contrast, the alternative healer regards cancer as a systemec disease, one that involves the whole body. In this view, the tumor is merely a symptom and the therapy aims to correct the root causes. Instead of aggressively attacking the tumor, many alternative therapies focus on rebuilding the body's natural immunity and strengthening its inherent ability to destroy cancer cells. A number of alternative therapies also include natural measures to directly attack and destroy the tumor, whether by herbs, enzymes, or other means.
Many cancer patients who were pronounced "terminal" or "hopeless" by their orthodox doctors went on to use alternative therapies, recovered fully, and are alive and well five, ten, twenty, or more years after their fatal diagnoses. Other patients who follow alternative protocols experience prolonged survival times and relief from pain and suffering. Not everyone does well on alternative cancer therapies; many die. There are no "magic bullets," no guarantees. Unfortunately, there are no reliable statistics on the results of alternative treatment. Some of the therapies work some of the time for some people.
The medical establishment ignores the existence of these cancer survivors or contemptuously dismisses them as "anecdotal evidence." Another establishment trick is to claim that people who got well through alternative therapies somehow magically recovered due to prior treatment-even if the toxic chemotherapy or immunity-destroying radiation that had been administered months or years earlier was of absolutely no benefit in slowing a rapidly advancing or metastasized malignancy.
Another favorite establishment ploy is to say that cancer patients who were cured through alternative therapies simply underwent "spontaneous remissions." This is medical lingo for "unexplained recovery," a fig leaf to cloak doctors' ignorance of what happened. Actually, there is no such process as spontaneous remission, as many doctors acknowledge. There must always be a cause or mechanism for the seemingly spontaneous tumor regression.3 The most comprehensive study ever undertaken on the spontaneous remission of advanced cancers turned up a paltry total of 176 such cases in the world medical literature from 1900 to 1965. This means the odds of a doctor meeting with several spontaneous remissions in one lifetime are virtually zero.4 Yet there are alternative doctors who have hundreds of so-called spontaneous remissions of advanced cancer to their credit.
Reviewing 200 cases of so-called spontaneous regression of cancer, Canadian professor Harold Foster, Ph.D., found in 1988 that the great majority of these people (88 percent) had made major dietary changes-usually switching to a strictly vegetarian diet and avoiding white flour, sugar, and canned or frozen foods-before their dramatic tumor regression or complete remission occurred.5 Most of these patients also used vitamin, mineral, and herbal supplements as well as detoxification measures. These are all prominent features of several of the alternative cancer therapies discussed in this book.
Cancer is a biologic puzzle. There is no unanimous agreement on what makes cells grow abnormally, in endless, uncontrolled multiplication. There could be many different valid ways to treat cancer. According to Michael Evers, executive director of Project CURE, "There are serious, scientifically based approaches to cancer which do not happen to fit the mainstream model. We're not talking about quackery or snake-oil medicine here." A patient advocacy group, Project CURE supports "a pluralistic medical system" that would make nontoxic cancer therapies available to patients as part of standard medical practice. Most Americans, it seems, endorse this goal. An Associated Press-Media General national poll in September 1985 revealed that half of all Americans believe alternative cancer clinics should be allowed to operate in the United States-even if the treatments they offer are opposed by the orthodox medical establishment. Over half of the respondents said they would seek such treatment themselves if they were diagnosed with cancer.