An Alternative To Conventional Breast Cancer TreatmentSeptember 2015
By Orn Adalsteinsson, PhD
If you or someone you know has been recently diagnosed with breast cancer, this report may be of importance.
Most breast cancer patients do not die directly from their malignancy.
Side effects from treatment, however, can be significant even if therapy is limited to lumpectomy.
An alternative approach is now available that has been shown to work as well as surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, but without the side effects.
In fact, the 15-patient initial clinical trial showed this treatment alternative produced superior results to conventional therapies, but the study was small in size and more data will be needed before a definitive comparison can be made.
Contact information about this novel therapy is provided at the end of this article.
Treating Breast Cancer: Where We Stand In Year 2015
This year in the United States, a staggering 231,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer.1 It is the most common malignancy in women.
Fortunately, because of earlier detection and improved treatments, most women diagnosed with breast cancer will not die directly from the malignancy.
Nonetheless, breast cancer remains the second-leading cause of death among American women, resulting in 40,000 deaths each year.1
Looking at overall numbers, however, is quite misleading. Early-stage breast cancers are nearly 100% curable, whereas only 25% of advanced (stage IV) patients are alive at five years.2
From a common sense standpoint, one might think that conventional therapy for early-stage breast cancer makes sense due to the high cure rate.
Overlooked are the side effects of mastectomy such as pain, scar tissue formation, numbness, tenderness, sensitivity, fluid or blood collection, infection, and tightness. Radiation, chemotherapy, and hormone- blocking drugs inflict more insidious side effects.
Efficacy Of Conventional Therapies
To ensure that all tumor cells have been eradicated in patients with early-stage disease, high-intensity radiation is often administered into the chest, sometimes with follow-up (or pre-surgical) chemotherapy. While these procedures reduce risk of local recurrence and metastasis, there can be lifelong health risks associated with these treatments, such as chemo-related leukemia and radiation-induced heart disease.
Hormone-blocking treatments used against certain types of breast cancer can induce premature menopause in younger women and create hormonal imbalances in older women that lead to a myriad of side effects, including osteoporosis.
A widely publicized study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association3 showed that breast-conserving surgery (lumpectomy) plus radiation to the chest provided superior survival results compared to unilateral mastectomy.
In this huge study, breast-conserving surgery plus radiation also showed equivalent survival to removal of both breasts (bilateral mastectomy).
While we applaud the ability of conventional medicine to “cure” most early-stage breast cancers, we are concerned that the side effects of breast-conserving surgery plus radiation are being trivialized.
There is a litany of side effects caused by chest radiation for the treatment of breast cancer, some of which have long-term consequences such as lymphedema, rib bone weakening and fractures, heart problems, radiation pneumonitis, and peripheral neuropathy to the shoulder and arms.
Women diagnosed with more advanced-stage breast cancers are at a significant disadvantage with low five-year survival rates. These women are exposed to huge doses of chemotherapy that have been shown to improve survival, but at the cost of numerous well-defined side effects.
Women with these more advanced breast cancers need to look beyond conventional therapy as the aggressive methods to control metastatic disease are largely failing over the longer term.
A Nontoxic Alternative
Outside of the United States, there is a well-researched cancer treatment referred to as Photodynamic Immunotherapy. The acronym that will be used throughout this report for this therapy is PDIT.
The basic mechanism by which PDIT works is through the use of a photosensitizing agent delivered to the breast tumor that, when exposed to a unique wavelength of light, causes one of the oxygen molecules to spin in the opposite direction in an ever increasing arc before it returns home. This oxygen molecule—otherwise known as Singlet Oxygen—produces an energy force that can neutralize nearby cancer cells while at the same time signaling the immune system to mount a response against infiltrative or metastatic tumor cells.
PDIT is designed to harness the energy of singlet oxygen to defeat cancer cells without serious side effects while amplifying the immune system.
When PDIT is applied to primary breast tumor(s), it neutralizes cancer cells and shrinks and destroys tumors by damaging the cell walls and blood vessels in the tumors, thus making it impossible for the tumor to receive nutrients.4-6
PDIT also activates the immune system by breaking down the cancer cells’ RNA and exposing tumor cells’ immune signal, i.e., antigens. This is called an Adaptive Immune Response (AIR). AIR allows one’s body to create its own unique reaction specific to antigens found in their tumor, up-regulating the immune system, and helping to protect against residual or metastatic malignant cells.4-6
An Adaptive Immune Response does not occur with conventional chemotherapy or radiation so by choosing PDIT, many patients are able to avoid surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.
Chemotherapy and radiation have long been shown to severely suppress immune function. A little known fact about cancer surgery is that it also markedly suppresses immune responses.
PDIT is an outpatient procedure that can be performed once or more as required depending on individual response to the treatment.
Results From Long-Term Clinical Study
A group called the International Strategic Cancer Alliance (ISCA) decided to evaluate the effects of Photodynamic Immunotherapy (PDIT) on women with breast cancer and chose a highly regarded private clinic in the Caribbean as the venue for their study.7
Because of the PDIT technique’s unique ability to destroy both an advanced primary tumor and life-threatening metastases, the researchers decided to treat women with breast cancers that had already spread to the lymph nodes or to other parts of the body.
The results show that in Stage IV breast cancer patients treated with PDIT, the survival rate to date has been 73.3%. This is comparable to the most favorable responses using conventional therapies. The advantage is that PDIT produces no serious side effects.
Details On The First 15 Study Subjects Treated With PDIT
Of the first 15 subjects who were treated, four are deceased, and 11 remain alive. Of those subjects, four are disease-free and two are in remission, which equates to a 73.3% total subject survival rate. However, of the 15 study subjects, only six subjects completed the trial. Of those six subjects, one subject is deceased and five remain alive—of those five subjects, four remain disease free, which equates to an 83.3% survival rate for subjects who completed the study.
The results from the initial study are encouraging, particularly in light of the poor survival rates when conventional therapies are used. Among the 15 initial study subjects, 11 (or 73.3% of the group) remain alive today.
This compares favorably with the typical survival rate in the United States for women with advanced breast cancer treated with conventional therapies, which is only 25% at five years.2 From this small initial study, almost three-times more women (73.3%) have survived compared to those subjected to harsh conventional treatments.
Currently, six subjects have surpassed the five-year milestone. Of the surviving 73.3%, the average survivorship is 59.8 months or 4.9 years and counting!
Further, of those nine study subjects who did not complete the study but were treated at least once, three subjects are deceased, but six subjects remain alive, and of those, two are in remission, which equates to a 66.6% survival rate for subjects who did not complete the study.
Results of conventional chemotherapeutic or anti-hormone breast cancer treatment aren’t nearly as encouraging. One study reported an average survival of just 15.4 months,8 another small study reported survival up to 23.1 months, but had no survivors by three years.9 The authors acknowledge that this pilot study of PDIT was small and more data will be needed before definitive comparisons can be made.
Malignancies that have been treated under this PDIT program for the last seven years include early and advanced-stage breast cancer, melanoma, and other cancers. The science and clinical results on breast cancer patients treated with one form of PDIT were reported in the November 2012 issue of Life Extension®.
Ideally, breast cancer patients considering PDIT therapy should consider it before surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy inflict immune impairment and permanent structural damage. In too many cases, patients contact ISCA after conventional therapy fails, which reduces the likelihood that PDIT will induce a complete response.
In response to the article published almost three years ago, an overwhelming number of calls were received from breast cancer patients who wanted the treatment. These patients regrettably had to be turned away because the technology was not available outside the clinical testing arena. An organization called the International Strategic Cancer Alliance (ISCA) is pleased to announce that it can now assist women with breast cancer in obtaining access to a PDIT program.
Advantages And Drawbacks To PDIT
A prime advantage of Photodynamic Immunotherapy (PDIT) is that it does not create the myriad of painful and lethal side effects associated with conventional treatments. A pilot study on 15 patients indicates it may be superior in efficacy to conventional treatment, but this was only a small study. It was, however, meticulously carried out.
Travel to the offshore outpatient facility is required and insurance is unlikely to reimburse, which is regrettable since PDIT costs only a fraction of what conventional oncology charges for breast cancer surgery, radiation, chemo, and other ancillary expenses. ISCA is seeking to persuade insurance companies to cover this cost, as it will potentially save them enormous expenditures compared to what they will normally pay.
Concierge Assistance In Cancer Management
ISCA offers a concierge consulting service whereby it introduces cancer patients to treatments and diagnostics that are ahead of what most of conventional oncology offers.
One of the advantages of becoming an ISCA client is gaining access to advanced Imaging Service that can quickly assess whether or not the therapy has eradicated the cancer.
This includes new PET/CT imaging technology that provides the expertise needed to properly read and interpret the scans and that can detect metastatic “hot spots” very early in the treatment, and an advanced MRI technology that can find metastases in lymph nodes well below the size limitations of standard scans, again allowing early detection and thus a more precise diagnosis and targeted intervention.
These kinds of precise imaging technologies enable ISCA to ascertain how well PDIT and other therapies are working on each individual patient.
An advantage of PDIT therapy is that it may be considered as a primary therapy and if the advanced imaging techniques detect any residual tumor cells that fail to respond to ISCA-recommended therapies, conventional treatment can then be initiated. It is not always possible to avail oneself of PDIT after certain conventional therapies have been performed. The novel MRI technique is also finding application with leading cardiologists and neurologists who can now monitor destructive inflammatory damage in real time if necessary, which can be important in identifying early infiltrating inflammatory damage to healthy tissue caused by conventional radiation therapy.
These invaluable early detection information systems allows ISCA and the client to create and optimize a Personalized Treatment Protocol, which can maximize the effectiveness of the treatment and allow the client the opportunity to consider treatment options including Photodynamic Immunotherapy (PDIT), or to opt for other treatments.
In addition to offering Photodynamic Immuno-therapy for breast cancer, PDIT protocols are being developed for prostate and lung cancer, melanoma, and other difficult-to-treat cancers.
If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call ISCA at 610-628-3419 or send an email to: [email protected]
For more information regarding the availability of the laser-assisted immunotherapy for breast cancer, please call ISCA at 610-628-3419.
Available at: http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/content/@editorial/documents/document/acspc-044552.pdf. Accessed March 26, 2015.
Available at: http://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/breast.html#survival. Accessed March 26, 2015.
Kurian A, Lichtensztajn D, Keegan T, et al.Use of and mortality after bilateral mastectomy compared with other surgical treatments for breast cancer in California, 1998-2011. JAMA 2014 Sep 3;312(9):902-4.
Garg AD, Nowis D, Golab J, Agostinis P. Photodynamic therapy: illuminating the road from cell death towards anti-tumour immunity. Apoptosis. 2010 Sep;15(9):1050-71.
Watson CJ, Gusterson BA. A prophylactic vaccine for breast cancer? Breast Cancer Res. 2010;12(4):310.
St Denis T, Aziz K, Waheed A, et al. Combination approaches to potentiate immune response after photodynamic therapy for cancer. Photochem Photobiol Sci. 2011 May;10(5):792-801. Epub 2011 Apr 9.
Adalsteinsson O. Laser-assisted immunotherapy: a novel autologous vaccine strategy for cancers with solid tumors clinical protocol #ISCA 0001 ed: International Strategic Cancer Alliance; 2012.
Fields RC, Jeffe DB, Trinkaus K, et al. Surgical resection of the primary tumor is associated with increased long-term survival in patients with stage IV breast cancer after controlling for site of metastasis. Ann Surg Oncol. 2007 Dec;14(12):3345-51.
Cummiskey RD, Mera R, Levine EA. Preoperative chemotherapy for locally advanced breast carcinoma at Charity Hospital, New Orleans, Louisiana. Am Surg. 1998 Feb;64(2):103-6.
Available at: http://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/breast.html#incidence-mortality. Accessed March 26, 2015.