Combine medical and integrative treatments
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There are many different medical treatments for melanoma, from “standard” treatments (i.e. approved by the FDA) like Interferon and Interleukin, to experimental treatments like chemotherapies, biotherapies, vaccines, viruses, anti-CTLA4’s, etc. Unfortunately, the reason there are so many treatments is because none of them work all of the time for all people. In fact, many of them only work some of the time for some people. The tricky part is figuring out which one might work best for you. In some cases, your doctor will have a solid recommendation for you. In others, you may do a lot of hunting around before you find one that makes your comfortable.
If you decide to go on a “hunt,” remember this rule of thumb: sometimes, it’s not the devil that’s in the details, it’s the angel. I.e. if you dig deep into the details, you may find information to your advantage. By doing your research and asking a lot of questions, you and/or your doctor can sometimes identify particular characteristics of you (in your blood, in the location of the tumor, etc.) that make you a better candidate for one treatment over another. If you have the tolerance or ability to read through the medical studies published on a particular treatment you are considering, you may be able to identify these things. Otherwise, ask lots of questions to the doctor who is administering the treatments to try to find characteristics that make you a good or bad candidate for it.
A couple of other things to consider when selecting a treatment:
- Make sure you understand the Trial phasing system, so you can be sure you understand what you’re getting. For example, in a Phase 2 trial, you are actually not guaranteed to get the medicine, and hence you may actually get the placebo.
- You don’t have to do just one treatment. Some doctors combine treatments together, some phase them one after another. The treatment my wife did involved three chemotherapies and two biotherapies at the same time. It was like throwing in everything and the kitchen sink.
- The best treatment for you may not be near you. Don’t be afraid to explore centers with melanoma expertise that are not near you.
In the end, hopefully this research will help you narrow the treatment options down to the one you feel is best for you. If you end up down to two or three treatment options and you and you’re doctors are still not sure which one is best for you, don’t be afraid to trust your instincts and make a “gut” decision about which one makes the most sense. When you believe in your treatment and go with the one that feels right to you, it likely has a better chance of working.
I am a big believer in integrative treatments for fighting melanoma because I believe the research and evidence suggests that they help and work. You can read about many of those treatments in the FoundHealth melanoma treatment section. In addition, here are some other things to think about:
- Find an integrative doctor who can help guide your treatment. There are many very good integrative doctors with a lot of experience helping people fight melanoma. Check out some of them here.
- Look far and wide. There is very good work fighting melanoma being done all around the world. Don’t just look in the US, but consider looking in other countries that have shown innovative melanoma treatments such as: Germany, Argentina, Australia (which has the highest melanoma rates in the world), Mexico, and Japan.
- Sometimes treatments will seem crazy or at least very foreign. In some cases, this is because they are crazy. In other cases, they could be very helpful. If medical science had the cure to melanoma then everyone with melanoma would do it. But there is no one “cure” that works for everyone, which is why a program that integrates medical treatments with integrative treatments can be even more effective. When you come across a treatment that seems odd or “crazy,” do your homework on it. See what others are saying about it. Find people who have tried it. Find practitioners with years of clinical experience and can share their thoughts on the benefits and risks of the treatment.
- Use a researcher to help you. There are people who specialize in doing research to help people fight and beat melanoma, and who know a broad array of possible integrative treatments. Check out some of them here.