SARASOTA, Fla., April 7, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Linda Roberts was puzzled when her favorite food, chocolate ice cream, suddenly did not taste good, and her prized orchids didn't smell nice either. When she began having sudden, severe headaches, she mentioned the changes in taste and smell to her doctor. After several tests, Roberts was diagnosed with a glioblastoma multiforme, the most aggressive form of brain tumor. As frightening as the diagnosis was, Roberts took the time to research the disease, treatment options and survival rates. According to TMD Limited, a medical tourism company, Roberts would become one of half a million Americans choosing to seek treatment outside the country.
Glioblastomas develop in the glial cells, the soft spongy tissue that supports nerve cells in the brain. This type of tumor is slightly more common in men. There are over 120 types of brain tumors. The most common malignant tumors are glioblastomas, astrocytomas that can grow anywhere in the brain, spinal cord or cerebrum and meningiomas that develop beneath the skull in the protective covering of the brain.
Symptoms include headaches, short term memory loss, changes in speech, taste or smell, eyelid drooping, difficulty with balance or uncontrollable movements or personality changes.
A 'mass effect' – increased pressure in the brain, may cause vomiting, drowsiness and vision problems, paralysis and decreased muscle control. The types of symptoms help doctors determine the location of the tumor – for example, tumors in the cerebellum present with lack of muscle coordination, including walking and speech.
Risk factors include receiving radiation to the head during childhood, and those with genetic disorders like neurofibromatosis and Li-Fraumeni syndrome. Increased use of CT, MRI scans and stereotactic biopsy procedures may also contribute to the development of brain tumors.
Environmental factors include exposure to solvents, synthetic rubber and polyvinyl, working on farms or oil refineries, or with pharmaceuticals. There is a higher incidence of brain cancer in electricians, chemists, embalmers, pathologists and artists. Risk factors increase with age. Current studies suggest excessive cell phone use in young people may be a contributing factor also.
Roberts researched current conventional treatments – surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Surgery is often necessary to remove or debulk a tumor. Brain tumors are difficult to remove, because the tumors invade surrounding brain tissues the way the roots of a plant spread through the soil. Complications include re-growth of the tumor, fatal brain herniation, permanent brain damage and loss of function. Roberts's tumor was inoperable. Her oncologist put her on corti-steriods and diuretics to reduce brain swelling and pressure and anti-convulsant drugs and pain medications.
Chemotherapy and radiation were suggested, but the side effects included hair loss, fatigue, brain swelling, seizures, vomiting, loss of memory and skin irritation. Sometimes, the inside of the mouth becomes inflamed and painful, so patients can't eat. Radiation can also kill healthy brain tissue, which can be fatal, and tumors can still re-grow. Even with aggressive treatment, the 5 year survival rate for glioblastoma tumors is only 3.4%, according to the Kelly Heinze-Grundner Brain Tumor Foundation.
These grim statistics sent Roberts looking for other options. "I couldn't see going through all that – cutting into my brain, being violently ill from treatment side effects – if the survival rate was so very small," she explained. "I spent hours on the web, and talked to alternative practitioners, and went on chat rooms to find other cancer patients who had found successful treatment. I think this research saved my life."
Roberts finally chose a small private clinic in Baja California, Mexico, just 20 minutes south of San Diego. Hope4Cancer Institute offered gentle non-invasive therapies that had no side effects, and she felt well during the entire treatment.
According to Hope4Cancer's medical director Dr. Tony Jimenez, chemotherapy and radiation fail remarkably in most cases of brain cancer, since they induce high levels of toxicity in the body, as well as significant inflammation of brain tissue, often leading to death.
"The challenge posed for treating brain cancer in both conventional and alternative methods alike revolve around two things: first, the delicate nature of the brain tissue, and second, the highly protective blood-brain barrier (BBB), a natural defense mechanism that only selectively allows foreign materials such as nutrient, drugs or supplements to penetrate the brain," Jimenez explained.
"At Hope4Cancer Institute, we are proud to offer gentle and effective alternative protocols that have the capacity of penetrating the BBB, such as Poly MVA and Silver Sol, in addition to whole body therapies that stimulate the immune system and detoxify the body."
Hope4Cancer's other treatments include local and whole body hyperthermia, SonoPhoto Dynamic Therapy, IV therapy, detoxification, immunotherapy, nutrition and vaccines. They boast a high success rate for such difficult cancers as lung cancer, ovarian and prostate cancer, breast cancer and bladder cancer.
Roberts spent two weeks at the ocean front clinic, and then continued some of the therapies at home for several more months. Her recent scans are free of tumors. She is back at work running a successful boutique in her beach front community, and is a vocal advocate for alternative medical treatments.
"When I think of what I might have gone through, and put my family through, I shudder. I feel so fortunate to have found a treatment that has such a positive effect on my health without destroying my immune system and making my life miserable. I encourage anyone diagnosed with cancer to explore their options."
Author Marla Manhart is a patient advocate and health writer. She is affiliated with TMD Limited. She can be reached at: [email protected].
SOURCE TMD Limited