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Surgery to Treat Cancer

Surgery, when used to treat cancer, is a procedure in which a surgeon removes cancer from your body. Surgeons often use small, thin knives, called scalpels, and other sharp tools to cut your body during surgery. There are other ways of performing surgery that do not involve cuts with scalpels.
Read the full article on the National Cancer Institute website.

1. Does surgery extend survival?

This 2014 study The efficacy of surgical treatment of cancer – 20 years later concluded:
No benefits can be expected to be achieved from using cancer surgery except in a few immediately life-threatening situations. Surgery appears to be based on an invalid paradigm of what cancer is. Cancer appears to be a systemic disease and therefore standard treatments need to be reassessed in this light…

It would therefore appear that the figure of about 60% five-year survival often quoted for cancer intervention in general, and claimed to have increased in recent years as a result of improved treatment, represents what survival would have been without intervention, i.e. the natural survival without treatment.

Diagnosis of cancer under a situation where the diagnosis is to be followed by surgery, particularly a diagnosis following cancer screening, can only result in over-treatment and lead to harm. This can only be avoided if a therapy is used based on a valid paradigm of what cancer is.

This study found:
No correlation was found between reduced breast cancer mortality and earlier surgical intervention. In fact, the trial with the most earlier surgical intervention had the smallest reduction in mortality; and that with the least earlier surgical intervention had the largest reduction in mortality.

This demonstrates that the earlier-diagnosis hypothesis is invalid. Some correlation was established between reduced mortality and reduced use of radiotherapy, suggesting that radiotherapy had a greater influence on mortality than surgery…The conclusion from the previous analysis, that surgery has not been shown to reduce mortality for any form of cancer, is therefore still valid.

This study The efficacy of surgical treatment of cancer concluded:
In summary, surgery became an ‘accepted’ treatment for cancer as a result of several factors. Because of the ethical problems of providing a proper control group of untreated patients, no scientifically acceptable trials have ever been carried out to prove that surgery is ‘effective’ in extending life. A graphical method used for analysing mortality rates suggests that there is no difference in survival between treated and untreated patients.

Comparative studies of surgical techniques using differing degrees of excision show no difference in survival. This would be expected if tumours were only symptoms of a systemic disease. Percentage 5-year survival statistics offered to show that surgery is an increasingly effective method of cancer treatment are unreliable because of several methodological problems.

The difference between incidence and mortality, which is a more reliable measure of the effects of surgery on cancer control, suggests that no improvement in survival has occurred as a result of surgery. The best, properly documented results of survival with terminal cancer patients have been achieved using therapies based on the hypothesis that cancer is a systemic disease and therefore should be treated by methods designed to restore the body’s own natural immune system.

Surgery has therefore not been shown to be an effective or proven method for the treatment of cancer. These findings add weight to the hypothesis that cancer is a systemic disease when first diagnosed.

2. Biopsies and surgery can – and do – spread cancer cells.

Biopsies and surgery can promote metastasis in a number of ways, including neoplasm seeding.

Neoplasm Seeding
The unintentional release of cancer cells from a tumor by a biopsy needle or surgical instrument, which then spread to other parts of the body resulting in new tumor formation.

This published review says:
Dislodging neoplastically altered cells from a tumor during biopsy or surgical intervention or during simple procedure like needle aspiration is a possibility because they lack cohesiveness, and they attain the capacity to migrate and colonize…
Many a times to obtain sufficient amount of sample during needle biopsy for diagnosis the tumor may need to be penetrated several times. This repeated puncturing and manipulation inside the tumor mass with needle may seed tumor cells into the needle track and also may spill the cancerous cells directly in to the circulation.

Here are more studies:

Study: Metastasis is a common cause of morbidity and mortality in cancer patients. Both experimental and clinical evidence lend support to the idea that surgery which is intended to be a curative option to remove and reduce tumor mass, can paradoxically also augment development of metastases.

Study: We have shown indirect but compelling evidence that there is dormancy in breast cancer and that surgery to remove the primary tumor does occasionally break dormancy.

Study: Primary tumor removal, usually considered intrinsically beneficial, can perturb metastatic homeostasis, and for some patients results in the acceleration of metastatic cancer.

Study: The role of breast tumour removal is different from the role of surgery by itself. Our findings suggest that the major effect of reconstructive surgery is microscopic metastasis acceleration, while breast tumour surgical removal (either primary or IBTR or CBC) involves both tumour homeostasis interruption and microscopic metastasis growth acceleration.

Ways surgery encourages cancer spread

This is published on the UKs number one cancer website
Apart from physically disturbing and releasing cancer cells around the body, other cancer-proliferating activities happen with surgery.

  • Surgery involves fundamental biochemical changes in the body, from the effects of stress to inflammatory response to the production of healing hormones. On top of that, Doctors give you drugs at the same time – anaesthetics and antibiotics. You simply cannot think of surgery as an isolated incident in the body.
  • Anyway, your cancer may well not be an isolated island in your body. Far more likely is that the conditions of cancer exist all over your body. Research covered in icon Cancer Watch [a magazine published by] have shown that cancers produce secondary pre-cancer cells much earlier than previously thought. These rogue cells pass round the body to other tissues where they and their oncogenes lie dormant.
  • Research has also shown that tumours actually produce chemicals that stop vascular growth to these dormant cancer cells lying in other parts of the body. In other words the cancer cells need a blood supply in order to grow into a tumour but the main primary tumour actually stops rivals forming. Remove the primary and the others can come out to play. A great deal of research has focused on Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF). You can suppress VEGF with bioactive natural compounds like curcumin, green tea (EGCG), resveratrol, milk thistle and genistein (in soy and red clover).
  • Indeed, the actual healing process from any surgery see an increase in growth hormone levels in the body. Major surgery will produce a large growth hormone response. (This is one reason why I believe strongly that people with cancer should not touch one drop of mass market cows´ dairy. Because of the way the cows are kept, it increases blood levels of IGF-1, a growth hormone). Surgeons know this and have been trying to minimise surgery – for example using more lumpectomies or key hole surgery.
  • Surgery can cause localised inflammation through eicosanoids, short-lived but highly active hormones. Especialy if steroids are used at the same time. Cancer likes inflammation, it encourages its spread. Omega-3 from fish oil, a small aspirin, ginger, garlic, aloe vera, curcumin, and resveratrol can reduce the inflammation in the body. (Vane and others)
  • The antibiotics and drugs administered will damage your microbiome, the crucial bacteria in your gut that control your immune system, and keep pathogens and yeasts in check. Friendly bacteria in your microbiome also produce your B vitamins, vitamin K that protects your liver and short-chain esters that prevent build up of bad triglycerides and inflammatory compounds in the blood stream. We suggest you read our article ´Heal Ur Gut´ with some urgency and take probiotics and B complex during the period of the surgery.
  • The antibiotics and drugs actually reduce plasma levels of vitamin D. Yet it is known that people with cancer and low levels of vitamin D, survive least. Take 5000 IUs per day of vitamin D, at least.
  • Surgery uses anaesthetic., which is also known to reduce the immune system via the gut microbiome. Doctors typically measure the white cell count, but as we continually point out, there are many different types of white cells (T-cells, B-cells, macrophages etc). Research has shown that surgery greatly reduces the numbers of Natural Killer (NK) cells circulating in the blood you will have a much harder job to kill off a cancer cell after surgery. Readers will know that we have always advocated going into surgery with a strong immune system we have suggested a combination of astragalus, cats claw, turmeric, echinacea, total natural vitamin E, zinc, selenium, grape seed extract and natural vitamin C with bioflavenoids. Vitamins D and K have also been shown to help fight cancer cells in research.
  • The drugs and anaesthetic used during surgery, and the stress involved, can make the body more acidic. Cancer tumours are highly acidic. Research from Arizona, Chicago and H. Lee Moffitt has shown that acid conditions in the body increase metastases from tumours and that acidic conditions favour these metastatic cells ´taking hold´ and forming new tumours

3. Dangerous complications and side-effects of surgery

Heavy bleeding, blood clots, heart attacks, strokes

Possible complications for any surgical procedure include:
Source: Mayo Clinic

  • Complications related to anesthesia, including pneumonia, blood clots and, rarely, death
  • Infection at the incision site, which may worsen scarring and require additional surgery
  • Fluid build up under the skin
  • Mild bleeding, which may require another surgical procedure, or bleeding significant enough to require a transfusion
  • Obvious scarring or skin breakdown, which occurs when healing skin separates from healthy skin and must be removed surgically
  • Numbness and tingling from nerve damage, which may be permanent

Atrial fibrillation after surgery increases risk of heart attacks, strokes
Source: Science Daily / University of Toronto
An irregular heartbeat following surgery known as post-operative atrial fibrillation (POAF) often is dismissed as a transient phenomenon. But a study has found that POAF can significantly increase the risk of heart attack or stroke during the first 12 months after surgery.

Dangers of Surgery

Possible risks and side-effects associated with surgical procedures include:

  • Risk of metastasis (cancer spreading)
  • Fluid or blood build up under the skin
  • Mild or severe bleeding – may require a transfusion
  • Infection at the incision site
  • Numbness and tingling which may be permanent
  • Lymphedema  swelling in arms or legs
  • Damage to other organs
  • Pain
  • Urinary Incontinence
  • Impotence
  • Heart problems
  • Breathing problems
  • Pneumonia 
  • Blood clots
  • Serious allergy to drugs (rare)
  • Nerve damage (rare)
  • Atrial fibrillation after surgery increases risk of heart attacks, strokes
  • Death (rare)

Sources: Mayo Clinic, Science Daily / University of Toronto, NHS, American Cancer Society

See also:
Prepare for Surgery
Vital questions to ask your doctor about surgery

1. Some cancer therapies can conflict with others. Do not start ANY therapy without consulting your doctor to ensure it’s safe and beneficial to do so.
2. Just because any given therapy worked for someone else does not necessarily mean it will work for you.
3. Although there are many viable alternative cancer treatments, there isn’t a “best” treatment for a certain type or stage of cancer.

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