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Questions About Cancer

Cancer is a health issue for many families. It's important to understand that there are different kinds of cancers. Not all cancers are life-threatening. Some types may be very serious and some may be dealt with relatively easily.

First, it's important to distinguish between benign and malignant tumors. The words "tumor" and "cancer" are usually interchangeable.

Tumors (or cancers) affect how cells reproduce. Normal cellular reproduction is tightly regulated. Normally, cells reproduce at regular intervals. In a tumor, cell reproduction is unregulated - cells reproduce on their own schedule, rather than based on the needs of the body. The result is a mass of cells that is growing unchecked. The tumor mass "doesn't belong" - it's like it exists within its own world. But the tumor uses the body's precious resources to maintain its own existence.

Benign tumors are usually slowly growing. The benign tumor mass is surrounded by a membrane and is "well-encapsulated". A benign tumor may cause health problems when it reaches a size big enough to create pressure effects on the surrounding tissues. Such a tumor mass may create pressure on an important blood vessel, or it may kill nearby cells and tissues by the pressure it's exerting on them. Basically, the tumor isn't supposed to be there. There's no room for anything "extra" in the body.

Malignant tumors have more dangerous characteristics. In general, malignant tumors are more rapidly growing than benign tumors. Malignant tumor cells have the ability to make their way into the capillaries, traveling through the bloodstream until reaching suitable locations for new growth.1,2 A metastasis is a new malignant mass developing in a new location from that of the original tumor.

Also, malignant tumors have the unique ability to cause the body to build an individualized, extensive blood supply for the tumor. This process is called angiogenesis. This complex network of blood vessels supplies the malignant tumor with extra oxygen and nutrients to fuel its rapid growth. So, essentially, malignant tumors highjack the body's resources for the tumor's own benefit. Malignant cells are highly adaptive and deadly.

Medical treatment for malignant cancers includes

  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation
  • Surgery

Where does chiropractic treatment come in? Chiropractic care may be an important component of supportive care in cancer treatment. Your body needs to use all its available resources and energy to help fight cancer and assist in recovery. Gentle chiropractic treatment helps your body work more efficiently, improving overall mechanical function and easing stress on muscles and joints.3 These chiropractic benefits help make more energy available to assist your body in returning to a healthier state.

Chiropractic treatment helps support the process of recovery and the transition back to maximum health.

1Gavert N, Ben-Ze'ev A: Epithelial-mesenchymal transition and the invasive potential of tumors. Trends Mol Med 2008 (in press)
2Guarino M, et al: The role of epithelial-mesenchymal transition in cancer pathology. Pathology 39(3):305-318, 2007
3Demark-Wahnefried W, Jones LW: Promoting a healthy lifestyle among cancer survivors. Hematol Oncol Clin North Am 22(2):319-342, 2008

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