Cancer tumors, for the most part, are not deadly. The spread of cancer is what kills.
My patients with prostate cancer who diligently follow the prescribed lifestyle regimen, often do well. Their PSA stabilizes, they lose unwanted weight and experience general well-being.
When I’m asked by physician’s how I successfully treat prostate cancer, eager to adopt my protocol, I say, “ I don’t treat prostate cancer. I treat people.”
You see, treating prostate cancer with surgery, radiation or focal ablation is only one part of the puzzle. The other critical element is treating the terrain, the host, you.
This sound too warm and fuzzy for you? A little hokie pokie for you, maybe?
Yep, despite our clinical results, until recently I thought treating the terrain sort of stuff was something only natural doctors were into. I mean, I know there’s tons of science behind it, but somewhere, deep in my mind, will the rest of the scientific community ever look in a treating the host model?
Recently a patient sent me this article by Siddartha Mukerherjee, MD (I’m still struggling pronouncing the last name).
You know Dr. Muherherjee don’t you? The author of the bestselling book,The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer (Recommended read)
His article in The New Yorker, Cancer’s Invasion Equation, focuses on, guest what?
In case you don’t get to read it, the article begin’s with this quote:
“We’ve tended to focus on the cancer, but its host tissue—“soil,” rather than “seed”—could help us predict the danger it poses.” (Hehe)
I won’t go into the details of Dr. Mukerherjee’s piece but allow me to share a three captivating viewpoints from researchers he interviewed:
“A tumor is made of a heterogeneous mixture of millions of cells, only a fraction of which are equipped to leave the primary tumor, form an exploitative alliance with the “soil” of another organ, and initiate metastasis.” -Dr. Isaiah J. Fidler, a metastasis researcher during the nineteen-seventies and eighties, studied “cross-talk” between tissue and tumor.
“When tumor cells enter the circulation, they must perish almost immediately, and in vast numbers. Only a few reach their destination organ, such as the brain or the bone. Once they do, they face the additional problem of surviving in unfamiliar and possibly hostile terrain. A visible, clinical metastasis—the kind that we can detect with cat scans or MRIs—must only occur once a dormant cell has been reactivated and begins to divide. Malignancy wasn’t simply about cells spreading; it was also about staying—and flourishing—once they had done so.” -Dr. Joan Massagué, a cancer biologist at New York’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
“Cancer is no more a disease of cells than a traffic jam is a disease of cars. A traffic jam is due to a failure of the normal relationship between driven cars and their environment and can occur whether they themselves are running normally or not.” -A British physician and cancer researcher, D. W. Smithers wrote in The Lancet, in 1962.
Dr. Stephen Paget On the Soil As An Important Factor in Cancer Progression
The idea of treating the biological environment is not new. Back in the late 1880’s, Dr. Stephen Paget, who came from a lineage of physician’s, brought forth the concept of treating the “soil, not only the seed.”
Nearly one-hundred and thirty years ago, Dr. Paget, who Dr. Mukerehjee also wrote about, proposed the idea that metastasis did not occur just by cancerous cell (the seed) activity, but by the milieu in the body (the soil) that made it favorable for cancer cells to spread.
Why do these types of concepts die?
There are many reasons why reasonable, maybe game-changing concepts die, I suppose. Some include, the fact that it is more scientifically “sexy” to look for concepts as genetics as a culprit. The other might be that pathways that are linear in the disease process help identify cause and then a single treatment to kill cancer. The problem is that cancer, like most chronic diseases, are not linear, it’s rather twisted and multifactorial.
Also, the terrain concept includes many variables as a contributor to disease. It’s less clean. Plus it provides no room for a single method of treatment, thus harder to find the magic drug.
In prostate cancer, the branch of oncology I’m most familiar with, the recurrence rate after initial treatment is fifty percent.
Yes, you are reading correctly.
How can that happen if the cancer in the prostate is either taken out or zapped out?
My biggest plight amongst patients treated for prostate cancer is to resist the idea of being cancer-free after initial treatment. I understand the notion of not having to worry about the horrific “C-word” is comforting, but there are two important factors here:
1.As you now know, cancer can return to almost everyone after treatment. And if cancer does not recurr, maybe it did not need to be treated in the first place. (Loeb et al. Eur Urol, 2014)
2.Your body is one whole system (thus the term holistic). If there is cancer developing in the prostate, why would you think it is not in other areas? It is.
3. Some of the treatments for prostate cancer, like radiation, for example, in the long-run, can another secondary cancer. (Boorjian et al. 2007)
With Prostate Cancer, words matter. The Terrain matter.
Prostate cancer, like my partner at XY Wellness would say (also battled prostate cancer at 44 and doing great fifteen years later) is a life-long disease and requires a life-long commitment to manage through proper lifestyle and behavioral practices.
Let’s take it a step further.
If you’ve been diagnosed with prostate cancer and are doing well, resist the temptation of calling yourself a “cancer survivor.”
Two Reasons why “Cancer Survivor” is not a good term for the diagnosed
1. Every time you say the word cancer verbally or in your head to describe your health status, your brain doesn’t care you are saying something positive ( say, I am doing great after prostate cancer). Your brain only here’s cancer. And that is a heavy word that carries negative energy with it.
2. “Survivor” implies I am just making it. Barely. I am just getting by.
I know you need to survive first to then thrive. But words are powerful. Your body obeys the messages you tell it.
Here, there is no need to drill the horrific word cancer in your head, and no need to emphasize the less than optimal word “survivor.”
Many of my patients have implemented the phrase, I am a “CaPLESS Thriver , orr just “I am a Thriver,” instead.
(Private CaPLESS Thrive Facebook community here, if interested)
The CaPLESS Method is an evolving, science-based, lifestyle program that treats the terrain.
Terrain medicine for prostate cancer, if you will.
Here’s the deal;
1. Consider the word thriving, not just surviving, to describe your post-diagnosis status.
2. Prostate cancer is an opportunity, not a death sentence. Live your best life forward.
4. Use words to describe your state of health that are empowering. Thrive.
All the best,