Alternative Treatments to Chemotherapy

Alternative Treatments to Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy refers to the treatment of cancer with the help of certain drugs or medications that work by disrupting the machinery of the cancer cells. They either starve the cancer cells to death or stop the progression of cancer by preventing them from dividing any further. With the advent of medical technology many Alternative Treatments to Chemotherapy have propped up in the last decade or so.

Most often, the doctors use a combination of drugs to treat patients who opt for chemotherapy treatment in India. There are thousands of chemotherapy drugs available that help relieves cancer symptoms through their cytotoxic action. Each of these drugs has a different mechanism of action and act only on specific types of cancer cells.


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Oncologists often recommend chemotherapy to a cancer patient. But that does not mean that all cancer patients must undergo chemotherapy treatment. The surgeon may conducte the treatment in the following situations:

  • Before the surgery to shrink the tumor size
  • After surgery or radiation to kill off remaining cells
  • As an independent treatment altogether

Even though chemotherapy treatment in India is a popular option for cancer treatment, many people look forward to other alternatives to cancer symptoms relief. The next section details on why chemotherapy scares most of us.

Why do people look for chemotherapy alternatives?

Chemotherapy drugs attack specific cells with a tendency to grow and multiply quickly. These most often include cancer cells that proliferate quickly and uncontrollably. During the course of its action, the drugs also end up attacking some of the young and healthy cells as well which are in their growth phase.

This may lead to specific chemotherapy side effects. For example, hair loss is one of the major chemotherapy side effects. It results when the drugs end up destroying the hair follicles that grow quickly and fast.

Other major chemotherapy side effects include constipation, loss of appetite, fatigue, weakness, weight loss, mood swings, diarrhea, and fertility problems. Some patients may even experience kidney-related problems, nerve damage, sexual dysfunction, anemia, and mouth and throat sores, leading to difficulty in swallowing.

While some of the chemotherapy side effects may go away within a few weeks of the treatment, others may persist for months or years. Some chemotherapy side effects related to the kidneys, nerves, lungs, or heart may last a lifetime. This drastically affects the quality of life of the patient.

Moreover, some patients also need to undergo stem cell transplant after chemotherapy is over. This is because the drugs often end up destroying the stem cells in the bone marrow. Therefore stem cell therapy becomes inevitable after chemotherapy, mostly when the doctors use it in combination with radiotherapy treatment.

This is the reason why most cancer patients fear at the thought of chemotherapy treatment in India. They look for alternatives to chemotherapy that can help relieve cancer symptoms. Most often, they end up practicing natural remedies and techniques such as Yoga, Tai Chi, acupuncture, hypnosis, massage, and aromatherapy. But little they do know that these techniques work extremely slow and there is no scientific evidence backing their role in cancer treatment.

Alternative Cancer Treatment Options

The good news is that there are several, although less popular, alternatives to chemotherapy. These alternatives are totally reliable and are available at all leading cancer hospitals that offer chemotherapy treatment in India. Moreover, many studies and clinical trials back the effectiveness of these chemotherapy alternatives.

Chemotherapy treatment in India can help relieve a majority of cancer symptoms by killing off tumor cells or stopping them from growing further. However, the patient may have to suffer mentally, financially, and physically throughout the treatment and afterward because of specific chemotherapy side effects.

But there are several alternative cancer options apart from surgery and chemotherapy that can help relieve cancer symptoms in the same way. These alternatives are relatively new but no less promising.

The following are some of the chemotherapy alternatives that every cancer patient should ask their doctor about.

1. Radiotherapy Treatment

Radiotherapy treatment, commonly referred to as radiation therapy, is another popular treatment option for cancer. However, just like chemotherapy, this form of treatment is not suitable for all category of cancer patients.

This form of treatment helps ease cancer symptoms with the help of high-energy radiation used to kill cancer cells or shrink their size. The high-radiation usually involves X-ray, gamma rays, or other types of charged particles.

There are three types of radiotherapy treatment that work as an alternative to chemotherapy treatment in India. These include external-beam radiation therapy (example, stereotactic radiotherapy), internal radiation therapy (brachytherapy), and systemic therapy (radiation through blood).

2. External-beam Radiation Therapy

Alternative Treatments to Chemotherapy

This type of radiotherapy treatment refers to delivery of high-dose radiation from the outside with the help of a machine called linear accelerator. This form of treatment is delivered daily for over a period of few weeks (varying from one patient to another).

Intensity-modulated radiation therapy, image-guided radiation therapy, tomotherapy, proton therapy, stereotactic radiotherapy or radiosurgery, and stereotactic body radiation therapy.

Two of the most popular and common types of radiotherapy treatment include 3-dimensional conformal radiation therapy (3D-CRT) and stereotactic radiotherapy. The latter is a relatively new form of treatment but works in a wonderful way when it comes to cancer treatment.

Stereotactic radiotherapy is a non-surgical radiotherapy treatment used to treat small tumors. It is known as stereotactic radiosurgery when used to treat small tumors of the brain. It is called stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT) or stereotactic radiotherapy when used to treat the tumors of the body.

Stereotactic radiotherapy delivers high-dose radiation to targeted location precisely. It directly targets the location of the tumor, without harming the nearby cells and tissues. Therefore, there are hardly any side effects because of the death of healthy cells in the case of stereotactic radiotherapy.

3. Internal Radiation Therapy

This type of radiotherapy treatment is delivered by a radioactive agent placed inside the body near the site of the tumor. In some cases, the surgeons place it into the tumor to kill off cancer cells. This procedure is commonly referred to as brachytherapy.

Surgeons can use brachytherapy to deliver a greater dose of radiation than stereotactic radiotherapy. It causes fewer side effects and less damage to the healthy cells.

4. Systemic Radiation Therapy


This type of radiotherapy treatment is administered through a radioactive substance, for example, radioactive iodine. It may sometimes use a radioactive component attached to a monoclonal antibody.

The radioactive substance, when given orally or directly into blood, targets the location of tumor directly as it gets absorbed. Radioactive iodine is mostly used in the treatment of throat cancer.

When radioactive component is used in combination with a monoclonal antibody, the antibody helps target the radioactivity to the right location. The antibody travels through the blood of the patient, identified the tumor location by itself, and makes the radioactive component attack the cancer cells.

5. Immunotherapy Treatment

Cancer Immunotherapy

People commonly refer immunotherapy treatment as biologic therapy. Chemotherapy treatment in India seems common, but immunotherapy treatment is a newer advancement made in the field of cancer treatment.

Immunotherapy treatment works on the principle of making the immune system of the body work against cancer cells. It makes use of certain chemicals that are either produced within the body of the patient or in a lab and infused into the patient.

This helps restore and boost the natural functioning of the immune system against the cancer cells. Thus, immunotherapy treatment works against cancer and cancer symptoms in the following ways:

  • Boosts the immune system to work naturally against cancer cells
  • Prevents cancer from spreading to other body parts
  • Slows down the cancer growth
  • Stops cancer from growing further

Monoclonal antibodies, oncolytic virus therapies, cancer vaccines, and T-cell therapy are some of the common types of immunotherapy treatment.

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Last modified on blank at Sep 24, 2019


Guneet Bhatia

Guneet Bhatia is an avid reader, healthcare writer, and is currently Director of Patient Care Department, MediGence. She has also been featured on many prominent Healthcare portals such as IBTimes, HCIT Expert, Clinician Today.


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