DR. ROBERT ZIEVE
Integrative Cancer Medicine: A Whole System Approach
Integrative Cancer Medicine is about thoughtfully and intelligently synergizing the best of modern medical oncology with the most innovative and effective well-researched therapies in alternative and naturopathic medicine.
Our goal is to provide individualized care to each of our patients, in a friendly, welcoming environment that supports wellbeing. Our approach involves not only treating the disease, but also striving for optimal health through a combination of ancient wisdom, modern science, and personalized care. Whether you’re dealing with a particular type of cancer or looking for guidance in cancer prevention, you can partner with our professional staff for treatment, advice, and support, to take care of the body that works hard to take care of you.
Modern oncology is becoming more and more complicated by the day, which makes it more important than ever that you, as a patient, be able to sort through the often-conflicting information about cancer and its treatment to find the approach that’s best for you. Dr. Zieve is here to help, and hopes you find the information here to be of use.
Cancer is quickly gaining momentum to overtake cardiovascular disease as the leading cause of death in the world, according to 2007 statistics. The expectation is that it will be number one cause of death by 2020, and cancer rates are expected to double by 2030. One out of two men and one out of 2.4 women born after 1960 will have cancer in their lifetime.
In spite of what we hear on the media, there has been no real change in the survival rate from cancer since 1950. Why? It’s about the transition from the old theory of cancer treatment to the new. As we know from recent events in modern history, this transition can be a long and sometimes difficult process, which is often resisted by established political and economic forces in medicine. As Dr. Nasha Winters, Naturopathic Oncologist, has stated:
“The old theory of cancer, and the one that modern oncology by and large still practices, is that cancer is a linear process with progressively accumulating mutations, until it grows a tumor which must be removed to prevent metastasis and death.”
What is New? The Metabolic Approach to Cancer
In contrast, what has been developing over the last forty years or so is what is called the metabolic theory of cancer, and its main tenets are the following:
Early cancers come and go, and often will spontaneously regress
Established cancers can remain dormant, which I have seen in many patients
Changing the biological terrain may prevent progression, and contribute to regression
Manipulating the microenvironment in which a cancer grows can and will halt or slow progression, and even reverse tumor growth
These tenets of a metabolic approach to cancer treatment are Dr. Zieve's focus.
Why a Metabolic Approach?
Because most cancers develop, evolve and grow by using abnormal metabolic pathways to generate energy, specifically sugar or glucose—a fact appreciated since the early twentieth century with the postulation of the Warburg Hypothesis, but only now gaining renewed research interest. This abnormal metabolism to which we refer often involves bad food choices, including diets that are heavy in refined carbohydrates that can feed cancer cells.
Cancer cells learn to evade the immune system in a number of ways. This is the basis of why we order certain blood and pathology tests with each patient with a diagnosis of cancer. Also, recent discoveries have highlighted the role of local chronic inflammation in inducing many types of cancer. In addition, cancer cells generally have severe chromosomal abnormalities, which worsen as the disease progresses. In order to meet these new realities and help more people who have a cancer diagnosis, we embrace and practice what is called integrative cancer medicine.
Multi-Dimensional Integrative Cancer Treatment
Integrative cancer treatment is an evolving, evidence-based specialty that uses complementary and alternative therapies in concert with conventional medical treatment to enhance its efficacy, improve symptom control, alleviate patient distress, and reduce suffering. As Dr. Donald Abrams, integrative oncologist at the Osher Center at UCSF has so well stated,
“[It is] the rational, evidence-informed combination of conventional therapy with complementary interventions into an individualized therapeutic regimen that addresses the whole person with cancer (body, mind, spirit)."
Dr. Zieve's Broad Toolbox
Dr. Zieve's toolbox for effective therapies includes an in-depth, comprehensive evaluation of three areas, and incorporating lifestyle changes, herbs, nutrients, IV or other therapies to support a good outcome and a high quality of life.
The three areas we look at are as follows:
1. You as a person. This includes your energy, sleep, food, emotional state, appetite, weight, and bowel status. We often take the time to ask many questions, so that we can better understand the terrain or soil out of which your cancer has grown in your body and in your life. What exactly does this mean?
Before developing programs to attack your cancer, we look at your lifestyle to see if there are an aspects that might need some changes. These include the following:
Nutrition and Digestion, including how much refined carbohydrates and non-organic food you are consuming.
Sleep and rest
Degree of emotional psychological stress: anxiety and depression being key factors in why cancers can get worse.
Light (i.e. Vitamin D)
Clean water and adequate hydration
Heavy metal and dental toxicities
Electromagnetic field (EMF) effects on the immune system
Pain you may be experiencing
Nausea or weight loss
Dr. Eli Jones summed it up nicely in the early 1900’s: “Do not get so taken up by the cancerous condition that you forget the most essential part of your treatment—the general condition.”
2. Your biochemistry and physiology. This is often best determined through comprehensive laboratory testing. The tests we order for you include (but are not limited to) looking at inflammation in your body, the tendency of your blood to clot too quickly, and immune function.
3. The specifics of your particular cancer. Most people want to know how they can attack the tumor, kill it, and make it go away. However, attacking the tumor alone is not enough, and can be toxic to your regular cells if you are not well prepared. This is why modern oncology in its present mechanistic form has such dismal results in treating cancer—because it does not address the more personal and biochemical areas of your situation before and even during treatment. By ordering tests on the slides from your biopsy that established the diagnosis, we can learn where your cancer is vulnerable, and this helps us to suggest appropriate therapies. Note: We do not do what is called the Greek Test on your blood. I have not found that this test offers much help, and is very expensive for many people. The tests we can order or help you order on your biopsy slides can often be covered on Medicare or most insurance plans (with a deductible).
It is important to learn as much as we can about the specifics of your particular cancer. This often means ordering tests on the biopsy slides that determined your diagnosis. These tests provide valuable information as to where your cancer is most vulnerable, as well as what chemotherapy, immunotherapy, or targeted therapy agents might most effectively treat your particular cancer.
Every cancer is different, and every person is different. There is no "one size fits all” formula. At Journey2Life, our focus is on you as a whole person, your unique physiology, and the specifics of your particular cancer.
As we gather the data we need through an in-depth initial consultation, with laboratory and other testing, you will begin with an effective foundational protocol, as well as treatments drawn from the following areas:
Nutritional support using specific botanical and herbal supplements, to bathe all of your body cells and tissues, including where the cancer resides, with herbs that help alter the local biological terrain so that it is less hospitable to cancer.
Food and dietary adjustments, often though an additional consultation with our nutritionist.
IV and subcutaneous therapies that can synergize, complement and support modern oncology therapies that some people require, and which also have many positive effects when used by themselves.
We find that taking some time to build a solid foundational program before and during the time that other therapies are begun can really benefit the patient. This is the individualized process that takes place through the combination of our knowledge and experience with different cancers and their treatment with our observations of you during your consultations, your laboratory and other test results, and our common sense and intuition. It is our perspective that this is true medicine, which is a dynamic, creative, and ever-evolving relationship between practitioner and patient.
While we do use a number of what are called “alternative” cancer therapies, we also embrace the accomplishments of modern oncology’s diagnostic and therapy approaches, like targeted and immunotherapies. The targeted therapies are often oral, and they are designed to target specific weak areas of a cancer cell that are discovered through testing of biopsy slides. The immunotherapies are therapies that activate the body’s own white blood cell lymphocytes to take on the fight against the cancer.
However, I must emphasize that to do any of these modern oncology therapies, whether they be surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapies, or immunotherapies, without at the same time including alternative or naturopathic therapies in the mix, is to miss the larger perspective on cancer treatment. I have found that it is not uncommon that many patients know that a particular oncology or surgical therapy is not going to help them. When this “knowing” is not based on fear, then it can be a very valuable resource in working with patients.
As I have attempted to state in many ways on these pages, our approach is to do a comprehensive assessment of you, your biochemistry, and the particulars of your cancer. From these assessments, we develop therapeutic protocols that are well thought through and often effective. It is our purpose to help anyone with a cancer diagnosis find their way towards better health, which can mean helping a patient go into remission, or to limit the spread of a serious cancer so that a patient can have a higher quality of life.
~Robert Zieve, M.D