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Cancer can affect even small glands like the adrenal glands. Adrenal glands are responsible for the production of hormones like cortisol and aldosterone. These glands are located above the kidneys and have two parts; the cortex and the medulla. Adrenal cancer generally affects the cortex of the adrenal glands. This type of cancerous tumour is rare and can be difficult to diagnose.
Most adrenal cancer symptoms are triggered by an excessive production of estrogen and androgen. Symptoms can also be caused by the pressure put on other organs by the tumour. Adrenal cancer symptoms are most easily noticeable in children as this is the stage where the body is changing and developing. Some of these symptoms are:
- Facial hair growth
- Excessive pubic and underarm hair
- An enlarged penis or clitoris
- Early onset of puberty in girls
- Development of enlarged breasts in boys
Symptoms of adrenal cancer in adults includes:
- Excessive weight gain in the abdomen and above the collar bone
- High blood pressure
- Irregular menstruation
- Easy bruising
- Frequent urge to urinate
- Muscle cramps
Additionally, men with adrenal cancer that causes excessive estrogen production may notice an enlargement of breast tissue and tenderness in the area. Women suffering from excessive androgen production triggered by adrenal cancer may notice their voice deepening and facial hair growth. In most cases, adrenal cancer symptoms in women do not appear until the tumour presses on other organs. This includes symptoms like pain around the tumor, a feeling of fullness in the abdomen and difficulty eating because of this feeling.
The cause of adrenal cancer has not yet been determined, but conditions such as Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome, Li-Fraumeni syndrome, familial adenomatous polyposis and multiple endocrine neoplasia can increase a person’s risk of suffering from this disease. A thorough physical examination and a detailed medical history is required to diagnose this disease. The doctor will also need a blood test and urine test. Additional tests that may be required include:
Adrenal cancer can be cured if diagnosed in its early stages. There are three types of treatment for adrenal cancer; surgery to remove the adrenal gland, chemotherapy and radiation. However, adrenal cancer can recur and hence it is important to schedule and maintain regular check-ups with a doctor.
Cancer is the most dreaded and complicated non-communicable disease, with some getting cured and some getting a prolonged life after treatment.
There is an ever-increasing demand for traditional/ natural medicine by cancer patients.
Majority of the cancer patients, worldwide, resort to complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) -
For reducing the side effects of conventional treatment, enhance quality of life (QOL) and improve clinical outcomes.
Apprehension of failure - of any single line of treatment failing to arrest/ cure the disease prompts patients/ caregivers to try out multiple approaches, at times frantically, with a hope to improve prognosis.
Most of the patients do not disclose their CAM approaches to their medical oncologists.
The treatment plans, in a multi-dimensional approach as mentioned above, thus are largely un-coordinated and enhances the risk of drug interactions and adverse events which can jeopardize the chances of achieving the overall treatment goals.
What is Naturopathic Integrative Oncology?
Naturopathic Integrative Oncology attempts bringing in appropriate CAM therapies that are evidence-based, safe, effective and which synergistically complement the conventional treatment modalities making the treatment as a whole all the more effective through improved/ optimized clinical outcomes (especially QOL & OS) and reduced adverse events. It helps manage symptoms, control side-effects, improve the state of physical & mental wellbeing, and speed up recovery. An integrated approach to treatment not only helps add days to the life of a patient but also helps add life to the days that a patient gets to survive.
Why Naturopathic Integrative Oncology?
- Cancer is a very complicated disease and its management presents with an enormous challenge. While the standard of care, by virtue of having demonstrated high clinical efficacy, have been chemotherapy, radiation and / or surgery, there still are treatment challenges owing to side effects, drug resistance, and irresponsiveness to conventional treatment of certain advanced stage cancers. It hence requires a strategic, well-researched, holistic & all encompassing/ integrated team based approach to control the same effectively. This necessitates the use of suitable CAM therapies as an adjuvant to conventional therapy.
- Improved clinical outcomes, especially quality of life (QOL) & overall survival (OS). It facilitates patients not only exist but also live life well.
- Avert adverse events/ reactions that may result owing to an oversight of the integrative oncology essentials.
- Cost effective treatment and increased patient satisfaction. It allows a customized/ individualized integrative treatment for each patient basis his financial status, clinical history, diagnosis, current treatment regime, spiritual belief, psychological & physical adverse effects etc all.
How (& Where) can Naturopathic Integrative Oncology Help?
Integrative Palliative Support (CAM)
For ameliorating cancer symptoms & side effects of cancer therapies thereby improving QOL. To exemplify, anxiety, depression, cancer related pain, weakness, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, hiccups, diarrhoea, gas/ flatulence, mucositis, alopecia, constipation, anorexia, cough, sleep disturbance/ insomnia, headache, anaemia, peripheral neuropathy etc all can be managed effectively using CAM therapies.
Palliative support, in line with the above-mentioned, can be rendered at any point during a patient’s illness to help him feel comfortable. However, should there be any severe aggravation of existing symptoms or acute health conditions, one needs to promptly seek emergency & competent medical help, as locally available, to address the same suitably.
Integrative Cancer Treatment (CAM) for patients who -
Consciously choose to not go for full scale conventional treatment for whatsoever reasons.
Have advanced and intractable malignancies where conventional therapy has not been able to effectively control the disease progression. Such patients are likely to seek CAM treatment for not only improving QOL but also add days to life as possible contextually.
CAM Modalities in Naturopathic Integrative Cancer Treatment:
- Diet & Nutrition/ Lifestyle
- Herbal/ Botanical medicine
- Dietary supplements/ Vitamins
- Exercise, yoga, meditation
- Music therapy
- Reiki/ Prayer Healing
- Massage/ Reflexology
Please note that it is at the discretion of the naturopathic/ integrative oncologist to decide on the appropriate CAM modalities, subject to the individual patient’s needs and as appropriate contextually.
Successful Naturopathic Integration Requirements?
For the alternative medicine (s) one decides to integrate with (the current conventional treatment regime), it is essential on the part of the practioner(s) to clearly understand the following for a successful integration -
- Patient’s current status including his clinical history, diagnosis, treatment regime, physical/ psychological make-up, belief system, financial capability and any other explicit requirement of the patient.
- Evidence-based clinical efficacy & safety profile.
- Action mechanism
- Herb drug interactions
- Side effects
- Long term health impact
- Dosage & Mode of administration etc all.