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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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Suggestions for Increasing Your Odds For Survival

The sheer volume of information, choices, and emotions that face cancer patients can be overwhelming. The following items summarize key issues. The book and video CANCER: Increasing Your Odds for Survival covers these points in greater detail. You can choose from this list and add any other items that you and your health care providers find appropriate.

Get a Second Opinion, Know Your Exact Diagnosis, Your Five-Year Survival Odds, and Your Tumor Aggressiveness

Always get a second opinion regarding your diagnosis and treatment options. Find out your exact diagnosis, your five-year survival odds, and the aggressiveness of your tumor. This information gives you an idea of how much time you have to work with and the odds of surviving your cancer with conventional treatment alone.

Find the Doctor Who is Right for You.

After you have and understand an accurate diagnosis of your condition you must make choices about your treatment options. Find the doctor who will listen to your concerns and discuss the treatment options to help you weigh the risks, potential benefits, and possible side effects of the options. If you are thinking of using alternative or complementary methods, choose a doctor who agrees to help you with testing to monitor the progress of your disease and treatment.

Do Your Homework

Read, ask questions, do research and gather information. Consider using a research service, especially if you have cancer or are considering alternatives.

Get Support

Take care of yourself. Find caring people to share with -- family, friends, cancer help lines. Get involved with a support group that you are comfortable with. Try to find one that values the approaches you and your health care provider have chosen.

Participate in a Residential Program or Workshop

If you can afford one and find one that fits your needs, residential programs and cancer workshops can provide tremendous amounts of information and support.

Be Assertive with Doctors and Hospitals Regarding Your Needs

Remember that doctors and hospitals are your paid consultants; they work for you (even though many do not act this way). You have a right to know, to have your questions answered, and to be treated with respect. When you visit the doctor's office or hospital, consider bringing someone along for support, to help you get what you need.

Avoid Complacency

Do not be lulled into a false sense of security if your cancer is in remission or if your survival odds are good. The cancer may or may not return. If you have had cancer, you are obviously prone to it, and susceptible to its return. The fact that it has occurred at all is a warning. You want to do everything you can to keep cancer from returning, because when it returns and spreads, it is most often deadly. Learn what you can do now to keep it from returning later.

Minimize the Side Effects of Chemotherapy and Radiation

Learn about what you can do to minimize the damage and side effects of chemotherapy and radiation, and to rebuild your immune system.

Consider Pretesting Chemotherapies-Sensitivity

Have your doctor acquire a large enough biopsy to allow for chemo-sensitivity testing to see which chemotherapy will work best on your cancer.

Time the Delivery of Chemotherapy

The time of day a chemotherapeutic drug is given has an impact on the effectiveness of the drug and on how much damage is caused to the immune system and other cells in the body. Optimal times for delivery of many common chemotherapies are known. One approach is to ask your doctor or hospital to use a programmable drug infusion pump for your chemotherapy.

Use Complementary Therapies

Look into what supplemental therapies are available to complement your primary treatment, whether it be some herbal supplement for your immune system, or psychological counseling. Like Dr. Lawrence LeShan says, a few extra votes can make all the difference in a close election.

Find an Experienced Psychotherapist

One of the most important and overlooked complementary therapies is psychotherapy. Many hospitals offer counseling to cancer patients, and although this is useful for coping with many stressful aspects of cancer and some quality- of- life issues it seldom, if ever, replaces what a seasoned therapist can do. Emotional issues can have a profound impact on our immune system and our ability to heal. Find a therapist skilled in finding out "what's right with you"--what gifts you have to give to the world--a LeShan type cancer therapy approach, and begin living the life you want. At the very least, you will increase your life's quality and satisfaction of your life, and at best you may save it.

Consider Alternatives

If you have a cancer that is untreatable with conventional therapy, and your odds for survival are basically nil, then, logically, alternatives are worth considering. If you can afford it, consult with a research service about alternatives. They have a better idea of which alternatives work for specific cancers. If possible, pre-test. Talk to those who have used the treatment, in person, by phone, or on the internet.

Be Sure You Have Access to Testing

Be sure you have access to reliable objective testing, prior to beginning a course of alternative treatment. Have a test done prealternative treatment and then have another test done after you have been on the treatment to be able to see if the alternative is working or if you need to change course.

Consider Clinical Trails

There is a new group of very promising gene and immunotherapies, including vaccines and biologics, being tested in clinical trials. Your doctor should be aware of any new appropriate treatments or clinical trials for your type of cancer. You can also call 1-800-4-CANCER. Be sure to ask about any preliminary research results, information on side effects and risks for these individual therapies so you can evaluate them properly.

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