Cancer is regarded as the most dangerous and formidable enemy of mankind. Western medicine has been striving to conquer cancer since before the 18th century. The research in Western medicine has focused on finding active remedies to attack cancer cells, while in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) the method of discerning patterns of disharmony has been used to treat the disease and more importantly its underlying cause. Some types of cancer, for example, breast cancer, cervical cancer, and cancer of the gastrointestinal tract have responded quite well to Western treatment with new techniques and early diagnosis. However, the results are far from satisfactory. Conventional Western medicine normally involves surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy. These treatments are well known for their side effects in many cases, which sometimes can be fatal, although they have been proven clinically to be effective in some cases. Conventional Western medicine especially the pharmaceutical industry cleverly uses the term “side effects” to describe the risks associated with taking medical drugs even though some of these so-called side effects can and do cause death in many cases. I would go as far as to say that calling something a “side effect” is a softly way of getting people to take the drugs and not worry too much about the harm they can cause. Any drug that causes damage to the body is an “EFFECT” and NOT! a nice wee side effect as is promoted by doctors and the instruction leaflet that comes with them. Before undertaking any course of drugs people need to ask themselves do the benefits outweigh the risks or is it the other way around? There are many, many alternative treatments out there today besides just chemotherapy in the treatment of cancer. These we can discuss later on in this series of articles.
The combined method of Chinese and Western medicine is adopted in the treatment of tumors at present in China. The application of Chinese medicine increases immunity, readjusts the disturbed physiological state, stabilizes pathological conditions, and prevents aggravation before Western medicine (surgical operation, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy) is employed. Chinese medicine also reduces the functional disturbance resulting from surgical operations, and the toxic effects of radiotherapy and chemotherapy when Western medicine is employed. In the late stages of cancer, if Western medical approaches are not applicable, Chinese medicine may reduce the suffering of the patient, improve clinical symptoms, and prolong life. The therapeutic intervention of Chinese medicine for tumors includes Chinese herbs, acupuncture and moxibustion, Qi Qong (special exercises), diet therapy, and medicinal food.
Modern medicine attributes most cases of cancer to changes in DNA that reduce or eliminate the normal controls over cellular growth, maturation, and programmed cell death. These changes are more likely to occur in people with certain genetic backgrounds and in persons infected by chronic viruses. Exposure to carcinogenic chemicals and or radiation including natural cosmic and earthly radiation coupled with the failure of the immune system to eliminate the cancer cells can lead to the formation of tumors.
The Chinese have understood that something from the environment, some kind of toxin, was a likely contributor to the development of the disease. Perhaps more importantly for our current concerns, the experience of Chinese doctors points to emotional contributions to the development of cancer. In particular, depression (which is repressed anger), anxiety, worry, fearfulness, excessive thinking, and grief are thought to result in the stagnation of circulation. If this circulatory disturbance continues, there may be a local accumulation-eventually to become the tumor mass at the weak point in the body. Stagnation and accumulation, do not always result in malignancy (one may experience a benign lump), but if the center of stagnancy becomes toxic, it will produce either an abscess ( growth of bacterial cells ) or a tumor ( growth of one type of body cells ). Abscesses and tumors occur by different processes, but there is a frequent overlap in the successful Chinese medical approaches to treating bacterial infections that cause abscesses and in treating tumors. Chinese doctors interviewing patients who have unusual swellings find a high frequency of reports of depression, anxiety, grief, and similar emotional states. Although it might be argued that these conditions arose because of the cancer, Chinese doctors are convinced that they existed prior to the development of cancer and therefore should be taken into consideration when choosing the proper prescription of acupuncture points. With this in mind, it would be a sensible thing to consider regular acupuncture treatments as a preventative measure against not only cancer but every other disease as well.