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CANCER: Increasing Your Odds for Survival. This Emmy-nominated documentary, hosted by Walter Cronkite, is designed to help people survive cancer. It provides vital information which cancer patients and their families need to make informed decisions. The documentary and book deliver a comprehensive overview of the disease, treatments, latest developments, organizations and resources to assist cancer patients in doing all they can to win their fight against cancer, as well as, improve the quality of their lives.

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Access to Reliable Tests of
Treatment Progress

It is imperative that you have access to diagnostic testing to evaluate the success of the treatment. If you go the alternative treatment route, be sure you have chosen, or have access to, an open-minded doctor who is willing to work with you and order tests. This can save you work and suffering later. If conventional treatment fails and you want to try an alternative approach, some doctors will just outright drop you (unconscionable, but true). More doctors are becoming honest about the limits of what they can do and good doctors are willing to help you fight for your life in whatever way they can. Testing can be as simple as ultrasound for some tumors, and cancer markers for others. Conventional science excels at this. Beware of tests used by the provider of an alternative treatment. Ideally, you want independent testing. You want to have established a baseline that determines the status of your cancer before treatment. You then can have the test redone after a course of treatment to see if the alternative is working.

Testing

A variety of tests are used to establish a baseline of the extent of your cancer that can be used to monitor the response of your cancer to treatment. Testing includes imaging technologies like x-ray, ultra sound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT), computerized axial tomography (CAT) and nuclear scanning. X-ray technology has progressed to the point where there is relatively little radiation exposure to the patient, as opposed to some of the other imaging methods. Many proponents of complementary medicine discourage the repeated use of x-ray and other imaging methods that require radiation to detect the presence or progress of cancer. There is debate over what if any negative effects this exposure has. Possibly of more importance to those using alternatives is the need to determine if the therapy or therapies they are using are working. If there are no other tests, my personal belief is that it is more important to know if the treatment is working than to avoid exposure from x-rays. Some of the other forms, like CT require greater radiation exposure and questions regarding it's effects on DNA make this choice more difficult. MRI uses radiowaves and magnetic field to produce highly detailed pictures with no known risk to the patient. Ultrasound uses high frequency sound waves which are also not toxic but the quality of the images and their usefulness depend greatly on the skill of the persons administering and interpreting the tests. Imaging methods require the tumor be of a size that can be "seen" by the technology. There are blood tests for some cancers that can detect the presence of cancer in the body even if it is not detectable as a tumor mass. Tests that are used in detecting presence of cancer with varying degrees of reliability include:

-the CA125 test for ovarian,
-the PSA test for prostate cancer,
-CEA for colon rectal, testicular and breast cancer, and
-CA 15-3 for breast cancer.

Often which tests doctors order are determined by what is available at their hospital. Asking your doctor, and your second opinion physician, what are the best tests for repeated evaluations of the sources of your treatment, regardless of where they are available from. Also remember to be sure and ask your doctors if they would please be willing to continue to monitor your progress with testing if you decide to go the alternative or complementary route. If both your primary and second opinion physician say no, I strongly recommend finding a physician who will.




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