The Philippine Star
WINNING THE BATTLE VS. CANCER
Prof. Xu Kecheng, a renowned specialist in gastroenterology, hepatology, and cancer treatment, and founder of the Fuda Cancer Hospital, was diagnosed with a rare and often fatal liver cancer 11 years ago. From being the brave doctor, helping others fight their bruising battles against cancer, he’s now the patient, facing the Big C himself. After undergoing surgery, he was surfing the Internet when he came across an article by a doctor from Taiwan who reviewed 81 patients who got hepatectomy, of whom only 11 survived more than five years. He read that these patients who had cholangiocarcinoma (like him) could receive “adjutant chemotherapy with medium survival time one to three months longer than the control group without chemo.” But he told himself, if spending the next few months of his life meant vomiting, losing his hair, losing sleep, and suffering all those painful side effects of chemotherapy, he didn’t think he wanted it.
In an article he wrote titled “What we can do when chemotherapy fails,” he points out that “chemo induces genetic mutation of cancer cells, leading them astray, which makes those cells not only immune to chemotherapy drugs but also more malignant.”
The good doctor, who has gained a lot of following, also authored the book, yes, Follow Me to Fight Against Cancer. So, now, let’s follow Dr. Xu as he gives some answers to some questions on cancer in this interview with The Philippine STAR. PHILIPPINE STAR: What’s the worst liver cancer case that the Fuda Cancer Hospital has treated so far?
DR. XU KECHENG: We treated a patient with hepatocellular carcinoma. The patient had an 18cm tumor. He was told that he had three months to live. He went to Fuda for treatment and was given trans arterial chemo embolization (embolic particles with chemotherapeutic drugs injected to the artery supplying the tumor), brachytherapy, also known as iodine seed implantation (the seeds are placed inside needles and inserted to the masses, giving a dose of radiation), cryosurgery, and oral chemo tablets.
We also treated a patient suffering from liver cirrhosis with liver cancer. The patient had systemic chemo and radiotherapy while in the Philippines. He was told he had two weeks to live. By the time he went to Fuda, he was suffering from jaundice. He had IV infusion to improve the liver function, bile duct stenting, brachytherapy, trans arterial chemo embolization, and immunotherapy. Are there more male patients with liver cancer than women?
In Fuda, there are more male patients with liver cancer mainly because of their lifestyle. They are highly stressed, their alcohol intake is very high, and most of the time, they lack sleep.
Why do cancer cells metastasize even when the patient is already undergoing chemotherapy?
Cancer patients in the Philippines often receive systemic chemotherapy. This type of chemotherapy attacks even the good cells, which weakens the immune system of the body. Also sometimes, the diagnosis is incomplete. In Fuda, after the biopsy, we often recommend a gene mutation test.
Based on your own experience, does chemotherapy really prolong a patient’s life? And how long?
Yes, it can prolong a patient’s life. However, chemotherapy alone is not enough. We recommend that patients go through immunotherapy as well. If chemotherapy fails, what’s the next thing a patient should do?
In Fuda, during the initial stage of the cancer disease, we recommend targeted treatments like Nano Knife and cryosurgery. Nano Knife destroys tumors with electric current while cryosurgery destroys tumors through freezing.
We also perform targeted chemotherapy treatment, which is different from systemic chemotherapy. In Fuda, the chemo drug is infused to the artery leading to the cancer tumor. Targeted chemo does not kill the good cells.
Chemotherapy is still an effective way to treat cancer, the main problem is the side effects. Systemic chemo kills the good cells and lowers the immune system, thereby weakening the body. Intervention chemo or targeted chemotherapy does not kill the good cells because it is infused straight to the artery leading to the cancer tumors.
If not chemo, what would you recommend for early or advanced cases of liver cancer?
In Fuda, we normally treat liver cancer using cryosurgery, brachytherapy, and immunotherapy. How does this treatment work?
In cryosurgery, a cryo probe is inserted to the tumor. It releases argon, allowing the formation of an ice ball that covers the tumor. Once frozen, helium is injected to increase the temperature and remove the blood supply to the tumor.
In brachytherapy, the seeds are placed inside needles and inserted to the mass, giving a dose of radiation.
In immunotherapy, patients are given a vaccine that can eliminate the cancer cells. Cells from the resected mass are isolated and cultured to build their tumor-killing capabilities, and are injected back to the body.
What’s the best way to make our cells healthy and fight cancer? To boost our immune system against disease?
I always advise patients to avoid sugar. Sugar is the food of the cancer cells, it strengthens cancer cells. What anti-cancer foods can you recommend? You can eat anything but in proper moderation. Follow the food pyramid. ** *