Resources for Adjunctive (or Complementary) Therapies for Sarcomas

Traditional cancer therapies such as chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery have been employed in the treatment of sarcomas. It is true that in part, these therapies have in the past helped to reduce the presence of the disease, but by in large, conventional therapies have fallen short of providing the same type of outcomes for sarcomas as have been possible for other forms of cancer. Sarcomas have high rates of recurrence, suggesting that conventional therapies have been unable to change the ultimate course of the disease. The result is limited survival for many of those diagnosed with different forms of sarcoma.

It is certain that understanding, categorization, and subsequent treatment of sarcoma is still in its early stages, however our hope is that as we learn more about sarcoma cancers and how they behave, we may find better and more effective ways to treat these complex and seemingly resilient diseases. Many patients and clinicians have begun to explore the use of adjunctive (or "complementary") therapies to assist more conventional treatments in the battle against sarcoma. It is suggested that if they are to be considered, adjunctive therapies should be utilized only after careful research has been conducted to ensure that such therapies do not interfere with those prescribed by treating oncologists. Recognizing that no cancer treatment is without its risks, patients should be closely monitored and under the care of an experienced clinician to monitor the effectiveness of selected therapies and minimize any adverse affects that might result.

Our goal in providing the links below is to offer some form of assistance to sarcoma patients and their families in sorting through the volume of misinformation and largely unregulated "complementary therapies" currently available. Clearly, there is much variability among complementary therapies in terms of what has been proven effective and safe. Also, many so-called "cures" are not supported by scientific research. However, it is prudent to recognize that at least some of the therapies available have some merit and warrant further investigation by sarcoma patients and their treating physicians.

To assist in this, every effort has been made here to provide links to websites that present data largely based on peer-reviewed studies; however, please note that information can change on a daily basis. As a result, please be aware that the information provided here by the Amschwand Sarcoma Cancer Foundation as well as on other pages may not contain all of the latest information available. It is recommended that the process of investigating and verifying the accuracy of the claims of such adjunctive therapies be taken on by the patient, his or her family and the treating oncologist. By employing this sort of team approach, the patient is better assured that the most up to date information is reviewed and small details are not overlooked in terms of sarcoma therapy.

It is important to note that even cancer specialists can encounter difficulty in keeping current on all complementary therapies. As such, some doctors will be more comfortable than others in indicating their lack of knowledge about therapies beyond the traditional approaches. It is our hope that through researching the following links, you may generate questions that may be posed to your oncologist and perhaps bridge some of the gaps that still exist between conventional and complementary therapies in an effort to find a comprehensive treatment regime that provides you the best chance of long term survival.

The following is a list of just some of the adjunctive cancer therapies available that may be helpful in complementing traditional therapies used to treat sarcoma: ·

Ace inhibitors - These agents reportedly can be useful in preventing the growth of new blood vessels (a term known as anti-angiogenesis). Some researchers speculate that anti-angiogenesis can cut off the blood supply to tumors and prevent further growth of certain cancers. Must be prescribed by a physician. Cost for generics is minimal but more expensive for newer agents. ($ - $$)

Cimetidine (brand name Tagamet®) - This drug has historically been used to reduce stomach acid production. Research suggests that it may be helpful in increasing cellular immunity. It has been reported that Cimetidine treatment can dramatically improve survival in patients with certain types of cancer specifically certain types of colorectal cancers. Can be purchased in grocery or health food stores. Cost is minimal. ($)

Green tea - For years, green tea has shown promise as a cancer-fighting agent. Some research suggests that in countries where consumption of green tea is increased, cancer rates are decreased accordingly. Over the counter. Cost is minimal. ($)

Melatonin - This agent reportedly helps maintain platelet count in addition to protecting the heart from Adriamycin (a first-line therapy against sarcomas). The compound is also reported to offer relief to those who encounter difficulty sleeping. Can be purchased over the counter. Cost is minimal. ($)

CoQ (also known as vitamin Q10, coenzyme Q10 or CoQ10) - May be helpful in tumor regression. May prevent cardiotoxicity from adriamycin. Can be purchased over the counter. Cost is moderate. ($$)

Vitamin A analogs - These agents are essential for growth and protection from various diseases. Reported to help inhibit cancer cell growth and to assist in the return to normal growth patterns. Vitamin A analogs require a prescription and can be costly ($$$) although other forms of Vitamin A are available over the counter and are less expensive ($). May be toxic if too much taken of non water-soluble form.

Soy isoflovones (Genistein - an agent removed from soy) - These agents are reported to possess strong antioxidant and anti-angiogenic properties which may prove to be helpful in the fight against cancer. Can be purchased at health food and nutrition stores. Cost can be reasonable ($$) to expensive ($$$) when used in amounts suggested in some literature.

Curcumin - This naturally occurring substance has been reported to offer anti-angiogenesis properties as well as immunity enhancing benefits in the fight against cancer. It has also been suggested that it may help traditional cancer therapies such as chemotherapy work better. Can be purchased at health food stores and nutrition centers. Cost is minimal to moderate. ($-$$) 

Cholesterol lowering agents (brand names include Mevacor® as well as others) - These types of "statin" drugs reportedly can be useful in preventing the growth of new blood vessels (a term known as anti-angiogenesis). Some researchers speculate that anti-angiogenesis can cut off the blood supply to tumors and prevent further growth of certain cancers. A prescription is required. Cost is moderate. ($$)

Thalidomide (also known as "TM") - These agents reportedly can be useful in preventing the growth of new blood vessels (a term known as anti-angiogenesis). Prescription is required and there will likely be many hoops to jump through to get this agent. It is very expensive ($$$$) but can be obtained at a reduced price if needy.

Alpha interferon - Some well known cancer researchers suggest that perhaps a sequential low-dose chemotherapy regimen along with anti-angiogenesis therapy may be helpful in the treatment of certain types of cancers. Alpha interferon is frequently suggested as a component of the anti-angiogenesis regime. Prescription is required. Cost is moderate to very expensive. ($$-$$$$)

Cox 2 inhibitors (brand names include Celebrex®, Vioxx® as well as others) - It has been reported that these drugs can be useful in preventing the growth of new blood vessels (a term known as anti-angiogenesis). Some researchers speculate that anti-angiogenesis can cut off the blood supply to tumors and prevent further growth of certain cancers. These drugs require a prescription. Cost is expensive. ($$$)

Copper chelators - Copper is believed by some to be the switch that turns on the angiogenesis process in tumor cells. By reducing copper levels in the body, some researchers believe that cancer growth can be controlled by creating an anti-angiogenesis state whereby the blood supply to the tumor is removed. Cost is moderate if obtained by prescription. Can be expensive if obtained through a study. ($$-$$$) 

Glutathione - Glutathione has been touted as one of the body's most important and powerful antioxidants. There is wide spread belief that antioxidants may be helpful in the prevention of some forms of cancers. Some suggest that Glutathione supplements may help to protect against immune dysfunction in persons with cancer and increase low intracellular levels in cancer cells. Can be purchased at nutrition centers. Cost is moderate. ($$)

IL-2 (also known as interleukin-2) - IL-2 is a type of immunotherapy, which is designed to assist the body in strengthening its own immune system so as to fight off cancer. It is often used in conjunction with other therapies. Requires a prescription.

NAC (also known as N-Acetyl-Cysteine) - NAC is a compound that is reported to increase glutathione (see above description) in the body. It has been touted as increasing one's immunity to cell destruction. Many persons within the HIV community have encouraged its use. · Vitamins C, D, & E - Relationships of nutrition and vitamins to the growth and/or prevention of cancer are increasingly evident. Some research suggests that these agents may help in tumor regression. Can be purchased over the counter. Cost is minimal. ($)

Selenium - Selenium is a powerful antioxidant. It works similar to and/or in conjunction with NAC and glutathione (see above descriptions). It is a micronutrient and may be purchased over the counter for a minimal cost. ($)

The above list is not intended to suggest that any one particular or combination of these therapies is right for you. Rather it is provided as a tool to assist you and your doctor in investigating some of the various adjunctive treatments available.

The following websites have been recommended as good sources of information regarding adjunctive or complementary therapies. Please keep in mind, as always, that this information should be shared with your treating physician and a monitoring plan should be developed as a part of every treatment regime, whether primary conventional or complementary adjunctive. Remember that some complementary therapies (even seemingly benign vitamin supplements) may adversely interact with chemotherapeautic or other treatment regimes prescribed by your doctor. As such, ALL therapies should be shared with your treating clinician.

Cancer Protocol
All of the information presented on this site has been said to be extracted from peer-reviewed, published studies by well-known academic centers or research institutions. The founder of this group, William "Bill" Peeples began his research into this subject in late 1996, when his wife, was diagnosed with endometrial stromal sarcoma, stage IV. Bill's wife was told that her cancer was inoperable and other treatments would be ineffective. Bill began to research what other therapies might be available to his wife. After initiation of an alternative therapy, Bill's wife's cancer seemed to go into remission in early 1997. Since then, his wife has remained healthy; however, Bill has continued his research in an effort to assist other cancer patients including those with sarcomas to find therapies that can assist them in achieving long-term survival.

This site provides a comprehensive overview of many adjunctive therapies that have in the past been employed by cancer patients and their treating physicians. The website is easy to navigate. Medical terminology and complicated treatment regimes are described in easily understandable language. Additionally, it has been our experience that questions posed to the address have in the past received quick and thoughtful responses which may be helpful to some patients and their treating physicians.

National Institutes of Health
The Office of Alternative Medicine (OAM)
P.O. Box 8218
Silver Spring, Maryland 20907-8218

1- 888-644-6226 - to get to the adjunctive therapy section of the site, click on "Heath Information".

The Office of Alternative Medicine (OAM) is organized under the National Institutes of Health (NIH), one of eight health agencies of the U.S. Public Health Service. Its purpose is to facilitate the evaluation of alternative medical treatment modalities, to determine their effectiveness and to provide a public information clearinghouse, although it is not a referral agency. The OAM Clearinghouse disseminates information to the public. The Clearinghouse provides several fact sheets and information packages by mail, telephone or fax on demand, some specifically on cancer.

This site is relatively easy to navigate and good information is provided on the differences between types of complementary medicines and treatments. Information is also provided on "alternative" medicines and therapies. In addition, the differences between complementary (adjunctive) and "alternative" medicines are explained. This site may be helpful in assisting the patient to understand the differences between some of the medical terminology used.

National Cancer Institute (NCI)
International Cancer Information Center
Building 82
Room 123
Bethesda, Maryland 20892

1-800-4-CANCER or 1-800-422-6237

For the hearing impaired (TTY) 1-800-332-8615 or 1-800-638-6694 - to get to the adjunctive therapy section of the site, click on "Cancer Topics" tab at the top of the page and then click on "Complementary and Alternative Medicine".

The National Cancer Institute (NCI), a department of the government's National Institutes of Health (NIH), maintains a comprehensive cancer database for doctors and patients offering information on a variety of cancer subjects. PDQ fact sheets are available and are written in an easy to understand format designed for lay people. Information is available on treatments, supportive care, prevention and screening, anti-cancer drugs, clinical trials and directories of physicians and organizations that provide cancer care. There is also a Natural Products Branch which is responsible for coordinating programs directed at the discovery and development of novel naturally derived agents to treat cancer.

This site provides information on a variety of supportive cancer therapies as well as information on open and closed clinical trials. Although navigation of the site can be cumbersome and difficult, it is worth visiting.

Life Extension Foundation (LEF)
1100 West Commercial Boulevard
Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33309

1-800-544-4440 -- Select "Health" to reveal the subtopics, then select "All Health Topics. Under the column labeled "Cancer", select "Cancer Adjuvant Therapy" for more information about complementary medicine.

The Life Extension Foundation's (LEF) reported mission is to provide insightful cancer-treatment information that is too often overlooked by practicing oncologists. The information provided is thorough and detailed, although technical and difficult to comprehend for those persons without a healthcare background. The information available on this site is extensive and, in part, pertains directly to the treatment of sarcomas. The Cancer Adjuvant Treatment section of the site is relatively easy to navigate.