Conventional supportive therapy
Advances in cancer treatment in recent years have led to many new treatment options. Unfortunately, some of the most beneficial treatments come with a number of side effects or other adverse effects caused by the cancer itself.
This is where modern supportive therapy comes into play. Here, too, progress in the types of medication available as well as in the field of psychosocial care have created significantly improved treatment options.
Supportive treatments are not themselves directed primarily against the tumor. Their use is much more geared to trying to reduce or alleviate treatment-related side effects and disease-related symptoms.
We distinguish between conventional supportive treatments established by oncological research from complementary supportive care, often with origins in natural remedies and alternative medicine. Used correctly, they can complement each other for the patient's benefit.
Important conventional supportive measures:
- Growth factors (if white blood cell counts are down)
- Erythropoietin (growth factor for anemia)
- Blood transfusions (for anemia)
- Antiemetics (anti-nausea and vomiting)
- Pain management
Complementary supportive therapy
Natural and alternative medicine give us various substances and therapies suitable for use in oncological supportive care. In a best-case scenario, they complement the effects of conventional treatments.
Of the vast number of such complementary treatments, only those which are evidence-based will be discussed here. Behind evidence-based complementary methods is a legitimate rationale which as a matter of principle welcomes a scientific review.
Research data already exists for some of these complementary methods, whereas for others the results are still pending. Scarce resources and financial considerations prevent costly scientific studies from being conducted on what are known to be many useful methods from complementary oncology, we have to rely on the experience and individual expertise of the prescribing physician and the scientific data we have available. Protecting patients against health dangers and other risks is the highest priority.
Important complementary, supportive measures:
- Micronutrient therapy (vitamins and trace minerals, phytonutrients...)
- Treatment with selenium (substitution and side effect management)
- Treatment with L-carnitine (side effect management and fatigue syndrome)
- Mistletoe therapy (phytotherapeutic and anthroposophic)
- Therapy with peptides (liver/spleen and thymus peptides)
- Nutrition science (diagnostic and therapeutic)
- Physiotherapy / sports therapy
- Psychosocial support / assistance