The goal of conventional oncology therapies—chemotherapy, radiation and surgery—is tumor eradication. Each of these three interventions can be extremely effective when used properly. In many cases, any one of the treatments will be the most appropriate for a patient and should be used.
An ethical oncologist must recognize the many shortcomings and failings of conventional therapy, however. Most everyone is aware of the negative side effects of chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. They depress the immune system and kill healthy cells as well as malignant cells. This can take a terrible toll on the patient’s quality of life and in some cases, will shorten the patient’s life. But, there is an issue much more significant than the negative side effects. Cancer cells become resistant to therapy over time. Unfortunately, many patients who experienced a good outcome at first with chemotherapy or radiation will find that they no longer respond as well on subsequent cycles. Conventional medicine can be part of the solution but it is limited and usually does not extend the life of stage IV cancer patients for very long. Therefore, thousands of people seek out alternatives. Considering that less than 30% of people with stage IV breast cancer will survive longer than two years, it is understandable that many people want to see if there is another more promising approach.