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Specialists Wake up to Benefits of Alternative Cancer Care

Times of India
5 February 2010
Kolkata, India

Ayurvedic-Medicine Alternative medicine systems integrated into mainstream cancer treatment in the US
After frowning upon it for years, a group of cancer specialists seems to have finally accepted that alternative therapy could play a key role in the fight against the disease. Several top specialists have joined hands with alternative medicine practitioners to provide care to cancer patients.

As part of this initiative, a palliative care centre will come up at KPC Medical College and Hospital, Jadavpur. Also, doctors have decided to conduct clinical trial of components of alternative medicine that could help combat the disease.

K P Chaudhuri, chief of the medical college and hospital, said palliative treatment is crucial to cancer care. “We are trying to set up a cancer care centre at our hospital,” he said. The centre is likely to start operating from early March.

Observing World Cancer Day on Thursday, radiotherapists, cancer surgeons, ayurveda practitioners and acupuncturists joined hands to form a working group of integrated oncology management.

“Doctors are never happy with patients who go for alternative medicine. But there is also no denying the fact that we cannot cure all patients. In the US, 70%-80% of patients opt for alternative therapy. Here, too, around 80% of patients take alternative medicine sometime or the other. Let us find out how such therapy can benefit patients and accommodate the same in the treatment system,” said Subir Ganguly, head of NRS Medical College and Hospital’s radiotherapy department.

Stating that there cannot be any differences between different schools of thought in medicine when it becomes a question of life and death, surgical oncologist Gautam Mukhopadhyay said: “I remember one of my seniors had refused to attend to a patient as he had undergone homoeopathic treatment for a year. There are a number of people who believe in these (alternative) practices and have benefited from the same. The systems should complement each other.”

A society will be formed comprising cancer specialists, OncoLink, D S Research Centre, homoeopaths, practitioners of ayurveda and unani, acupuncturists, music therapists and others to take the initiative forward. Clinical trial of cancer care methods will be carried out and it will be incorporated into the protocol. Patients will be referred to a special board, which will recommend treatment procedures according to personal needs.

Mrigen Gatait, director of the staterun acupuncture institute, said an integrated approach was an essential component of medical care.

“For example, acupuncture has helped us avoid amputation for 72 out of 120 gangrene patients. Trials are being carried out in the West and some have shown that acupuncture is effective in reducing pain,” said Gatait.

A combination of mainstream and alternative medicine has been in vogue in the West for the last few years. In the United States, Society for Integrative Oncology (SIO) has been working towards amalgamation of all the treatment systems and prepared guidelines for integrative oncology.

The Perfect Medical Blend
Cancer Treatment
Biologically based practices: Herbal remedies, vitamins, other dietary supplements
Mind-body techniques: Meditation, guided imagery, expressive arts (music, art and dance therapy)
Manipulative/bodybased practices:Massage, exercise, reflexology
Energy therapies:Magnetic field therapy, reiki, healing touch, qigong
Ancient medical systems:Traditional Chinese medicine, ayurveda, acupuncture

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