According to the Animal Cancer Center at Colorado State University (CSU), cancer is the No. 1 cause of death in geriatric
dogs and cats. Nearly half the deaths of companion dogs and cats are from cancer. Roughly half of all dogs and cats will develop
cancer if they live to be 10 or older. A recent CSU oncology study involving 254 clients showed that 76 percent of clients
used complementary and alternative medical (CAM) therapies, with nutritional supplements the most commonly used. More than
half the clients indicated strong interest in CAM; 40 percent expressed average interest, and 3 percent reported no interest.
Keum Hwa Choi, Associate Professor at the University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine, reported that patients
receiving both conventional and Traditional Oriental Medicine therapies had better survival rates, longer duration of remission
and quality of life than those patients who did not utilize both systems of medicine.
While the ultimate goal in treating neoplasia is complete and permanent remission, that is sadly unattainable with Western
medicine, alternative modalities, or various combinations thereof. According to Huisheng Xie, DVM, MS, PhD, Assistant Clinical
Professor, University of Florida, College of Veterinary Medicine, and third generation TCM practitioner, one can expect the
following when treating neoplasia with TCM (acupuncture, Chinese herbs, Chinese food therapy, Tui-na [Chinese medical massage]):
- Goal 1: Stabilization—Achieved in 90% cases
- Goal 2: Shrinkage of mass—Achieved in 30% cases
- Goal 3: Disappearance of mass—Achieved in 5-10% of cases
Minimally, improved quality of life is achieved with TCM treatment. It has been this author's and other TCM practitioners'
experience that cancer patients show improved quality of life with renewed vitality when treated with TCM as sole or adjunctive
treatment for cancer, but they typically "crash and burn" within a very short period of time once the body succumbs to the
devastation of cancer.
Chronologically, TCM has a 3-6-1-3 goal when dealing with oncology patients. The first goal is for the patient to live 3 months
post-diagnosis. If the patient succeeds, then the expectation is for 6 months, then 1 year and finally 3 years.
In TCM, cancer develops from exogenous factors and/or endogenous factors. External factors include toxins such as heat toxin,
food toxin, radiation, chemicals, heavy metals, or the 6 pathogenic factors (Wind, Heat, Summer Heat, Cold, Dryness, Damp).
Internal organ (Zang Fu) disharmony(ies), imbalance of Yin/Yang, Qi and Blood deficiency (weak constitution) and any factors
that result in emotional stress or strong emotions (e.g., boarding, competition, changes in schedule or household), are considered
endogenous factors. Either of these factors cause the stagnation of Qi/Blood, Phlegm, Dampness or Toxicity, which then manifest
as masses or cancer. Often a root deficiency of Qi, Qi/Yang, Blood or Yin have enabled the external factors to have such a
deleterious effect, or are the actual cause of the Zang Fu disharmony.
Possible TCM etiologies for the development of neoplasia include:
- Trauma, Cold-Damp → Blood Stasis
- Inappropriate food → Food Stagnation → Accumulation of Phlegm, Heat Toxin
- Environmental changes (competition, strife in the household, boarding, new animal in household, schedule changes, travel,
etc.) → Qi Stagnation
- Invasion of the 6 Pathogenic Factors → Stagnation of Blood/Qi, Accumulation of Phlegm, Heat, Heat Toxin, Damp
- Disharmony of Zang Fu (internal) organs → Zheng Qi (Antipathogenic Qi) deficiency → Stagnation of Blood/Qi, Accumulation of
Phlegm, Heat, Heat Toxin, Damp