In our last blog, we explained the importance of taking a proactive approach to preventing or minimizing the potentially life-threatening complications associated with cancer and its treatment. We noted that most patients with cancer don’t actually die from their disease; rather, they die far more often from complications associated with cancer and its treatments. In that blog, we addressed cancer cachexia and infections. In today’s blog, we will discuss thromboembolism and pain syndrome.
Thromboembolism refers to the blocking of a blood vessel by a blood clot dislodged from its site of origin. Blood clotting imbalances are common in people with cancer and can sometimes escalate into full-blown crises. Advanced cancer can predispose you to a life-threatening condition known as venous thromboembolism (VTE)—the detachment and movement of a blood clot from, for example, a deep vein of the leg to another site, such as an artery in the lungs. Unless clot-dissolving or blood-thinning drugs are given quickly, an embolism in the lungs can be fatal. VTEs are among the most common causes of death in cancer patients undergoing surgery, with a three-fold increased risk of dying for surgical patients who develop VTEs. One way to prevent this problem is by helping patients become “fit for surgery,” as well as physically active soon after surgery (additional information can be found in Dr. Keith Block’s book, Life Over Cancer). In addition, nutritional and herbal strategies to maintain a healthy blood quality can play a beneficial role.
Cancer-related pain is also known as the “fifth vital sign” for patients with cancer. Most tumors do not hurt, which is why those that grow internally tend to escape our attention. But occasionally a tumor will press on a nerve or on some vital organ. A tumor can irritate a nerve, not unlike a “slipped disc” causes irritation of the spinal cord. Alternatively, the immune system may react strongly enough to the tumor to make the area inflamed, and this can, in turn, cause pain. Cancer-related pain occurs in about one-third of all cancer patients, and in about two-thirds of all patients with advanced cancer. Additionally, disease – and treatment-related pain is a major cause of inactivity, which can lead to other complications, including pneumonia, developing a thrombosis, and treatment failure. In the vast majority of cases, however, this pain can be completely or mostly controlled with the use of appropriate analgesics, which can be used in conjunction with softer, complementary therapies such as acupuncture and hypnosis.
At the Block Center, we embrace an array of integrative therapies to help prevent and treat the potentially life-threatening complications that can send patients into a downward spiral. This not only enhances quality of life, but increases the likelihood that patients will reach their treatment goals. Very importantly, research tells us that patients who complete their prescribed treatment protocols increase the likelihood of surviving their disease.
For additional information about our integrative, individualized treatment programs, please call 1-877-41-BLOCK (25625).