Selecting a cancer clinic can be daunting. Most mainstream oncologists are disapproving of alternative therapies because they are unfamiliar with them. In addition, there are few studies (in patients) to assess the value of these treatments. Nonetheless, for many cancer patients, reputable cancer clinics do improve their quality of life and, in some cases, also extend survival.
Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), also referred to as integrative medicine, is defined as interventions not taught widely in US medical schools and not generally available in US hospitals. CAM treatments can include a broad range of healing philosophies, approaches, and therapies. A therapy is generally called complementary when it is used in addition to conventional treatments; it is often called alternative when it is used instead of conventional treatment.
The Doctor – Clinics that treat cancer are only as good as their practitioners. Where was the doctor trained? What type of medical licenses do they hold? What are their research interests and experience? What have they published? How long have they treated cancer patients? You should be able to talk to the doctors and ask these questions before you become their patient.
The Patients – What is the clinic’s experience with patients like you? Has the clinic treated patients with the same type and stage of cancer as yours? How well have these patients done? Can you speak to these patients or their families? You should ask the doctor or administrator if you can contact any of their patients. If this is a problem because of privacy laws, you can visit the clinic, spend some time in the waiting room, and speak with the patients who come through. You can ask them what kind of cancer they have, how long they have been treated, what is their opinion of the doctors and treatments.
The Staff & Premises – Like most healthcare settings, patients spend a great deal of time being cared for by nurses and other staff. Therefore, the attitude of the staff is also a consideration. How well does the staff treat their patients? Do they seem hurried and tired? Are they calm, patient, professional and courteous? Do they communicate well? Is there a feeling of optimism and confidence? What about the premises. Are they clean? Is the equipment new? Visit the clinic and keep your eyes open.
The Treatments – What are the main therapies and what is known about them? Is there scientific evidence to support their use? Are they effective? Are they safe and non-toxic? A search on Pubmed can get you started as can various books on alternative therapies.
Timing – Most patients go to cancer clinics after orthodox medicine has failed them. At this point, the mainstream therapies have run their course providing a great deal of toxicity and limited efficacy. The patient’s immune system is often decimated, the cancer has spread, and the patient’s energy is depleted. Even in these cases, clinics can often provide a better quality of life. The best successes, however, in extending the lives of patients are often achieved in those individuals who have not undergone the full toxicity of orthodox therapies.