SARASOTA, Fla., March 30, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Regina Baldwin was 57 and post-menopausal when she started spotting and experiencing pain during intercourse. She was shocked when her gynecologist told her she had endometrial cancer. And she shocked her family when she announced that she was going to a treatment center in Mexico. According to TMD, a medical tourism research company, Baldwin was one of half a million US citizens going out of the country for medical treatment each year.
An aerobics instructor and avid jogger, Baldwin maintained a healthy weight, had never taken estrogen or Tamoxifen or had radiation to the pelvis. She had 3 children, and her periods had always been normal, so she had none of the risk factors associated with endometrial cancer.
Endometrial cancer is the most common cancer of the female reproductive system. Ninety-five per cent of uterine cancers, like Baldwin's, develop in the lining of the uterus. Sarcomas that develop in the muscle of the uterus are very rare. In 2010, there were 43,470 new cases in the USA, most in women over 55. There were 7,950 deaths due to endometrial cancer in that same year.
The uterus is pear shaped and located in the pelvis between the bladder and rectum. During childbearing years, the uterine lining grows thicker each month to prepare for pregnancy. When pregnancy does not occur, the thick bloody lining is shed through the vagina. This cycle occurs regularly until menopause.
When normal cells in the uterus begin to change and grow uncontrollably, tumors may form. The most common symptoms of endometrial cancer are abnormal bleeding or discharge, difficulty emptying the bladder, pain in the pelvic area, or pain during sex or urination.
Diagnosis is done by pelvic exam, ultrasound, biopsy, a pap test to see if the cancer has spread to the cervix and labs to measure kidney function and tumor markers. Other tests may include chest X-ray, CT scans and MRIs.
When Baldwin was presented with conventional medicine's standard treatment – surgery, chemotherapy and radiation and hormone therapy – she began to research side effects.
Surgery usually involves removing the ovaries, fallopian tubes, part of the vagina, lymph nodes and the uterus itself. Side effects include nausea and vomiting, loss of bladder control, constipation, loss of desire, hot flashes, vaginal dryness and night sweats. Removing lymph nodes may cause lymphedema, a painful swelling in the legs.
Radiation and chemotherapy causes hair loss, skin tenderness, diarrhea, vomiting, vaginal burns, infections, exhaustion, low blood counts, mouth and lip sores, numbness in extremities, hearing loss, joint pain and swelling.
Further research told her that when caught early, about 84% of patients live up to 5 years. The survival rate for late stage endometrial cancer is only 10%. Faced with these dismal statistics, Baldwin told her doctor she wanted to get a second opinion before deciding on a course of treatment. And she began to look into alternative clinics located both in and outside of the US.
"I found many clinics in the states that offered excellent programs for detox and immune support, but none could offer the aggressive natural therapies that are only legal outside of the US," Baldwin explained.
"I learned that the cancer had been in my uterus for a long time before symptoms appeared, so I felt comfortable taking a few weeks to look at all my options. I was not going to be rushed into a treatment that had so many side effects. I wanted to live, and I wanted to be able to enjoy life with my children and grandchildren."
Baldwin faxed her medical records to several clinics in Baja California, Mexico, just across the border from San Diego, California. "I talked to the head doctor at each clinic, and they answered my questions, suggested treatment plans and told me what I could expect. And they all told me there would be no side effects," Baldwin said.
Eventually, Baldwin was admitted to Hope4Cancer Institute, near Rosarito Beach in Baja. "I chose this small private clinic because they have 8 physicians on staff and they take only 10 patients at a time. And they were the only clinic I interviewed that did not offer any chemotherapy, not even low dose chemo. The warm, personal attention and caring staff made my stay a pleasure. The clinic is small enough that you really bond with the other patients and their families, and I made some lifelong friends," she said.
According to Baldwin, it was her research findings on local and whole body hyperthermia treatments that made her choose Hope4Cancer.
Dr. Antonio Jimenez, founder and medical director of Hope4Cancer Institute, uses both local and whole body hyperthermia. "It has been scientifically proven that if you can sustain a temperature of 106 degrees inside a tumor for one hour, the cancer cells will be destroyed," Jimenez explained. "Because malignant tumors have poor circulation, they are more sensitive to temperature changes, and normal cells are not affected, so the treatment has no side effects. We attribute our success to the way we combine a variety of therapies, with an individual treatment plan for each patient. And we educate our patients, so they understand what they need to do to regain their health and then stay healthy."
Hyperthermia has been used in Germany for over two decades. Recently the FDA approved microwave hyperthermia for medical use in the US, but microwaves can only be used on a small area at a time, and only penetrates a short way beneath the skin. Sound wave or radio wave hyperthermia can be used as a whole body treatment to find and destroy cancer cells throughout the body. This type of treatment also kills parasites, virus and fungi while stimulating the immune system. Baldwin's research confirmed that this treatment would be safe and effective in fighting her cancer.
"My treatment was pretty intense – I was in therapy from after breakfast until dinner time, seven days a week for two weeks," said Baldwin. "I had local and whole body hyperthermia, SonoPhoto Dynamic Therapy, several different IVs, a vaccine, lots of detox, counseling and nutrition classes. The food was all organic and I've learned why I need to change my eating habits. My husband was able to come with me – he stayed in my room and attended classes and learned how to help with home therapies."
According to Baldwin, making this decision was not easy. "My parents were appalled that I was traveling to Mexico for treatment. My kids were very supportive. My gynecologist thought I was crazy. My best friend said she was 100% behind whatever decision I would make and that was the best thing anyone could have said to me. I needed the people around me to respect my decision as the right one for me."
"It's been 4 years since my treatment at the clinic, and I feel confident I will remain cancer free. My test results are still clean. I maintain a healthy diet, and stay on a maintenance program from the clinic. I think I made the right decision."
Author Marla Manhart is a health writer affiliated with TMD Limited and is a patient advocate. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
SOURCE TMD Limited