Life Clinic

Integrative Oncology-Looking Beyond Chemotherapy and Radiotherapy

By Dr Stephen Chan, Medical Director in Life Clinic


Integrative Oncology,either combined with or as an alternative to conventional treatments, can help strengthen the body to reduce the side-effects and flight back against cancer.

The conventional view about cancer is that it is caused by a random aberration or “mutation” of the genetic blueprint of our cells. “That it’s just my bad luck…and it could have happened to anyone!”

That might be the case, if it wasn’t for the fact that there is an alarming rise in new cancer cases over the last century.  In the last 20 years alone, new cancer cases have increased by 50%, with the US National Cancer Institute predicting that men have a 1 in 2 chance developing cancer in their lifetime and women a 1 in 3 chance!  Something is going on that can’t be explained by pure chance.

To make things worse, despite improving survival rates attributed to earlier detection and improved treatments, more people die of cancer today than they did in our parent’s generation.  So why do we seem to be losing the war against cancer?

Part of the challenge lies in the toxicity associated with conventional treatments. Traditional chemotherapy is known as “cytotoxic” because they kill rapidly-dividing cells (one of the properties of cancer cells).  This means that other cells that also divide rapidly under normal circumstances can also be harmed: cells in the bone marrow – causing anaemia, bleeding tendancy or low immunity; cells in the digestive tract – causing loss or appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or mouth ulcers; and those in the hair follicles – causing hair loss, to name just a few common side-effects.

Radiotherapy, though generally better tolerated, can still cause mouth sores, inflamed skin, limb swelling and infertility, and even if successful, long-term sequelae like fibrotic scars and dry mouth or eyes can be a painful reminder of the toxic treatment.

“The problem is”, says Dr Stephen Chan, Medical director of the Life clinic, “that there is very narrow margin between what is considered effective or ‘therapeutic’ in and what becomes ‘toxic’ “.  And there lies a fundamental paradox.  That in order to kill unwanted cancer cells, the body’s very own defense mechanism-the immune system, that normally holds the cancer at bay, may be so weakened as to allow the cancer cells to spread.

Building up the body’s constitution and immunity, and its intrinsic ability to fight off cancer, is one of the cornerstones of Life Clinic’s integrated cancer approach.  “We look at cancer not just as a freak mutation”, but also what it is in the body that made it possible for the cancer to exist in the first place, "Dr Chan says. If these underlying factors are not changed, he explains, then however successful conventional treatments are, there is a real chance of the cancer coming back futher down the road.

Indeed, Nobel laureate, Otto Warburg at the turn of the last century, was one of the first to propose that it was changes in the metabolism of a cell that made the DNA so unstable to undergo change, and that any treatment without looking at addressing those initial imbalances that gave rise to them is likely to fail.

“Cancer cells have a disturbed way of producing energy”, Dr Chan says, “and tend to ferment sugars producing large amounts of lactic acid”.  So it is important to starve the cancer cells of one of its main sources of fuel, sugar, by taking this and refined carbohydrates out of the diet, and increasing alkalinizing foods, like brightly coloured, antioxidant-rich, vegetables.  Juicing organic vegetables, can be a convenient way of getting this in.

“It is important to have foods that are easily digestible to the body as well, and to avoid the consumption of grains, dairy, and meats, which are all difficult for the body to digest." says Miles Price, Clinical Nutritionist and Functional Medicine Practitioner at the Life Clinic.

Also critical in the fight against cancer is to support the liver, gut and skin to efficiently eliminate toxins, through supplements, infra-red sauna’s and colonics or coffee enemas.  This is especially important if the patient is undergoing chemotherapy or radiotherapy, as they can produce huge amounts of cancer cell debris that can overwhelm an already over-taxed body.

Indeed, cancer sufferers at the Life Clinic will often start with a series of functional tests to help identify hidden nutritional deficiencies, hormonal imbalances, allergies and pollutants that if unaddressed, take up valuable resources that would otherwise be used to contain the cancer.

A personal program is then prescribed to either support the body through conventional treatments, or though natural approaches like high dose vitamin C and nutritional supplements, should the patient prefer.

Indeed, two of the most powerful tools available at the Life Clinic are measuring “Circulating Tumour Cell Sensitivities” and the “Kelly Nutritional protocol”.

The first is an incredibly sensitive blood test that allows the detection of even the most minute quantities of cancer cells in the circulation, followed by identification of which agents, conventional or natural, are able to kill the cells.  This is similar to how bacteria is routinely tested against antibiotics, and allows a high level of personalization of treatment to each patient that otherwise wouldn’t be available.

The second, developed by a US dentist, Dr William Kelly, in the 1980’s is one of the most effective natural programs based on a strict dietary regime,supplements,and high dose enzymes to break  the protein coat or “biofilm” that protects cancer cells from being detected by our immune system.  Indeed, Dr Kelly not only cured himself of Stage IV Pancreatic Cancer through this regime, but went on to help thousands of other patients outlive their expected prognosis.

“The main difference we see with patients who take a more integrative approach to their cancer treatments is that rather than become progressively weaker and broken as we typically see with more toxic treatments, they bounce in positive, full of life and vitality."Dr Chan says." And if we help them gain a few extra months that’s a bonus.  At least they get quality of life in the most vital months to years of their life."

And if that is life beyond chemotherapy and radiotherapy, most would agree it is a life worth living. 

If you have any further queries about Integrative Oncology, please contact us by email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call reception on 2881 8131.