Stage 3 Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma-Conventional, Integrative, Complimentary

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Curcumin combined with 5-FU led to the lower cell viability and higher apoptosis than 5-FU treated alone. In a human Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma xenograft model, curcumin or 5-FU alone reduced the tumor..

Dear Cancer Coach- My dad (aged 64) is recently diagnosed with Esophagus / Esophageal stage III cancer (squamous cell carcinoma). Doctors recommended radiation plus chemotherapy for 6 weeks. I want to explore the possibilities of alternative medicine to treat the tumor. Doctors said that the size of the tumor is 28-33 cm and lesions are found in some parts of the body.
I would like to understand the following:
  1. Is there an alternative medicine available to treat and shrink the tumor? What may be the available options?
  2. Would you be able to guide me us through this process. We live in  India. 
Do share your email address so that i can write to you for your guidance, share the reports and next steps. 
Thanks Philip

Dear Philip-
I am sorry to read of your father’s stage 3 Esophageal Cancer (EC) Squamous Cell diagnosis. I will reply to your question about alternative therapies below. But before I do I just wanted to start with stage 3 prognosis aka 5 year survival average. Keep in mind that this is an average and therefore can be somewhat misleading. For example your dad is younger than the average cancer patient. If he is in good condition, physically speaking, then he is again, ahead of the average cancer patient.
When you say “lesions are found in some parts of the body” I take this to mean that your father’s cancer is “regional” and possibly “distant.” This means that his five year survival is less than localized EC cancer. My point is that your dad must treat his cancer more aggressively that if his EC were localized.
Localized means that the cancer is only growing in the esophagus. It includes AJCC stage I and some stage II tumors (such as those that are T1, T2, or T3, N0, M0). Stage 0 cancers are not included in these statistics.
Regional means that the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes or tissues. This includes T4 tumors and cancers with lymph node spread (N1, N2, or N3).
Distant means that the cancer has spread to organs or lymph nodes away from the tumor, and includes all M1 (stage IV) cancers.
5-Year Relative Survival Rate-
Localized   43%
Regional   23%
Distant     5%
Yes, there are alternative EC therapies. Meaning, there are therapies to take that are non-toxic. The challenge you and your dad face when considering alternative therapies is that they are difficult to assess. Meaning, it is difficult to judge a therapy if the “proof” is anecdotal or individual.
Having said this, I believe your father’s therapy regimen should not be alternativebut a combination of conventional, integrative and complementary. For example, your dad might undergo surgery or radiation (both conventional) in order to shrink his tumor. At 28-32 cm, his tumor requires immediate treatment to shrink his tumor. Yes, radiation is toxic but I will recommend therapies that research has shown will reduce this toxicity such as resveratrol. Please see the study linked and excerpted below.
Further, I would recommend systemic (body-side) therapy to kill any EC that has spread throughout your dad’s body. Yes, chemo is toxic but again 1) your dad must treat his metastasis quickly and I would recommend and provide integrative therapies shown to enhance the efficacy of the chemo.
You would have to find out what chemo and tell me to research evidence-based integrative therapies. An example would be a chemo called 5-FU- curcumin has been shown to enhance the efficacy of 5-FU in EC.
Further, I believe that your dad should undergo evidence-based non-toxic therapies that also have been shown to be cytotoxic (kill) EC. Again one of these is curcumin, but in addition there are foods and lifestyle therapies that also can help your dad.
Lastly, yes, my job as a cancer coach is to provide online support to both you and your dad through this process. The cancer coaching that is provided by PeopleBeatingCancer also provides caregiver, mind-body, etc. therapies.
This is a long reply to your questions. Let me know if you have any other questions.
Hang in there,
David Emerson
  • Cancer Survivor
  • Cancer Coach
  • Director PeopleBeatingCancer

Recommended Reading:

The protective effects of Resveratrol against radiation-induced intestinal injury

“Intestinal injury is a potential cause of death after high-dose radiation exposure. The aim of the present study was to investigate the protective effects of resveratrol against radiation-induced small intestine injury…

Results– Compared to the vehicle control, treatment with resveratrol improved intestinal morphology, decreased apoptosis of crypt cells, maintained cell regeneration, and ameliorated SOD2 expression and activity. Resveratrol also regulated Sirt1 and acetylated p53 expression perturbed by irradiation in the small intestine. The protective effect of resveratrol against ionizing radiation induced small intestine injury was significantly inhibited by Ex527.

Conclusion- Our results suggest that resveratrol decreases the effects of radiation on intestinal injury at least partly via activation of Sirt1.”

Curcumin potentiates the antitumor effects of 5-FU in treatment of esophageal squamous carcinoma cells through downregulating the activation of NF-κB signaling pathway in vitro and in vivo.

“Although constitutive activation of nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-κB) signaling pathway has been reported in multiple different human tumors, the role of NF-κB pathway in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) remains ill-defined.

In this study, we first analyzed the status of NF-κB pathway in the two ESCC cell lines Eca109 and EC9706, and then further investigated whether curcumin alone or in combination with 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) could modulate NF-κB pathway in vitro and in vivo.

The results showed that NF-κB signaling pathway was constitutively activated in the ESCC cell lines. Curcumin suppressed the activation of NF-κB via the inhibition of IκBα phosphorylation, and downregulated the expressions of Bcl-2 and CyclinD1 in ESCC cell lines.

Curcumin combined with 5-FU led to the lower cell viability and higher apoptosis than 5-FU treated alone. In a human ESCC xenograft model, curcumin or 5-FU alone reduced the tumor volume, but their combination had the strongest anticancer effects.

Besides, curcumin could also inhibit NF-κB signaling pathway through downregulation of the IκBα phosphorylation and induction of cell apoptosis in vivo.

Overall, our results indicated that constitutively activated NF-κB signaling pathway exists in the two ESCC cells and the chemopreventive effects of curcumin were associated with downregulation of NF-κB signaling pathway and its downstream genes.”

The Most BioAvailable Curcumin Formulas

“Based on a review of these studies, it is evident that better bioavailability of formulated curcumin (CU) products is mostly attributed to improved solubility, stability, and possibly low first-pass metabolism”

A search of the Pubmed database for the word curcumin yields 601 studies spaning health topics from multiple myeloma and colorectal cancer, to chemotherapies that synergizes with CU, to Alzheimer’s Disease, arthritis and more. Based on years of reading studies and personal accounts, I think it is safe to say that CU supplementation is safe and relatively inexpensive.

I have read about myeloma patients taking daily doses of CU from 400 milligrams to 8 grams (1000 milligrams = 1 gram). By almost any measure, CU is a safe, inexpensive wonder drug.

The only challenge is that CU is famously difficult to absorb in the body. In other words, a person has to mix curcumin with some sort of fat (coconut oil, chocolate, etc.) or take a brand of curcumin capsule that is already formulated to be more “bioavailable” in order to derive the full benefit of CU.

The study linked and exerpted below reviews different formulations of CU. The study itself lists the three most bioavailable formulation/brand of CU and I’ve added an excerpt from a further review from Consumerlab.com that lists four additional bioavailable brands of CU.

Recommended Reading:


CU is a bright yellow chemical produced by some plants. It is the principal curcuminoid of turmeric (Curcuma longa), a member of the ginger family, Zingiberaceae. It is sold as an herbal supplement, cosmetics ingredient, food flavoring, and food coloring.[1]

Bioavailable curcumin formulations: A review of pharmacokinetic studies in healthy volunteers.

“Curcumin is a widely studied natural compound which has shown tremendous in vitro therapeutic potential. Despite that, the clinical efficacy of the native CU is weak due to its low bioavailability and high metabolism in the gastrointestinal tract. During the last decade, researchers have come up with different formulations with a focus on improving the bioavailability of curcumin. As a result, a significant number of bioavailable curcumin-based formulations were introduced with the varying range of enhanced bioavailability.

The purpose of this review is to collate the published clinical studies of CU products with improved bioavailability over conventional (unformulated) CU. Based on the literature search, 11 curcumin formulations with available human bioavailability and pharmacokinetics data were included in this review. Further, the data on clinical study design, analytical method, pharmacokinetic parameters and other relevant details of each formulation were extracted.

Based on a review of these studies, it is evident that better bioavailability of formulated curcumin products is mostly attributed to improved solubility, stability, and possibly low first-pass metabolism. The review hopes to provide a quick reference guide for anyone looking information on these bioavailable curcumin formulations.

Based on the published reports,

exhibited over 100-fold higher bioavailability relative to reference unformulated CU. Suggested mechanisms accounting for improved bioavailability of the formulations and details on the bioanalysis methods are also discussed.”

According to Consumerlab.com:

“Novasol has the highest bioavailability (185 x compared to unforumulated CU), followed by Curcuwin (136 x), Longvida (100 x), Meriva (48 x), BCM-95 (27 x), Curcumin C3 Complex + Bioperene (20 x), and then Theracumin (16 x).”


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