Cancer: Ayurvedic Diagnosis

When we think of cancer from Ayurvedic point of view, we need to consider following things :-
Cancer is not directly mentioned in Ayurvedic text under one title and as a set of similar diseases as described in modern sciences. Some diseases or conditions described in Ayurved show similarity with cancer.

These are :-

  • Dushta Shotha
  • Dushta Vrana
  • Dushta Granthi
  • Dushta Arbuda
  • Dushta Vidradhi
  • Dushta Visarpa
  • Dushta Nadivrana
  • Dushta Mansa Pradoshaja Vikar

Leukemia and multiple myeloma show similarity with following diseases or conditions described in Ayurved.

    • Rasa – Raktagata Jwara
    • Sannipatik Jwara
    • Pandu
    • Rakta Pitta
    • Raktaja Krumi
    • Asthi Majjagata Vata

However it should be noted that simile between Ayurvedic and allopathic diagnosis and symptomatology is mentioned just for understanding and they are not exact translations of each other. While diagnosing a patient, from Ayurvedic point of view, who has undergone previous allopathic treatment such as surgery, chemotherapy or radiation and no visible tumor or growth is seen, following parameters were used.

  • Symptoms of the disease.
  • Allopathic diagnostic tools such as description of gross specimen of Biopsy, FNAC, USG, X rays, CT scan, MRI, Endoscopy,  Colonoscopy etc.
  • Operative findings of surgeon, physician remarks about tumor.

Cancer: Ayurvedic Treatment

Treatment Groups
Each patient included in the project is included in one of the four groups according to status of the disease, patient’s condition and allopathic treatment received. The groups are as follows –

  • Group A : Fresh untreated confirmed cancer patients.
  • Group B : Allopathic failures – progressive cancer.
  • Group C : Complimentary with other allopathic treatment.
  • Group D : Supportive; cancer previously controlled by other methods of allopathy.

In group A, the number of patients was very less. Ayurvedic treatment was given according to Ayurvedic diagnosis of the patient. In group B, in patients receiving chemotherapy or radiation, Ayurvedic treatment was given initially to reduce the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation. In patients who were not receiving conventional allopathic treatment, Ayurvedic treatment was given against the disease and to improve immunity. In group C, treatment was given to reduce the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation. In group D, treatment was given to increase immunity and to give strength to respective organs and Dhatu.
Shodhana treatment is useful in Nirama Avastha when strength of causative Dosha and Dushya is more and strength of patient is good so that he can tolerate the treatment. In most of the cancer patients, strength of patient is less though the disease is suitable for Shodhana. So Panchakarma treatment was administered to very few patients. In patients undergoing Shodhana, it is observed that local recurrence or metastasis could be prevented for long time.
Acharya Sushrut has mentioned Shashti Upakrama as treatment of choice in Vrana Chikitsa. So local treatment such as Shirodhara, Shiropichu, Lepa, Snehana, Gandusha, Yoni Pichu etc. were used in many patients especially in whom local lesion is seen.

The basic aim of Integrated treatment is to improve the quality of life of cancer patients and better life expectancy.

Quality of life is a standard level for emotional, physical material and social well being achieved through integrated treatment. This is assessed with the help of questionnaires mainly QLO-30 and organ specific questionnaires.

Better life expectancy is determined with 5 years survival rate that is the percentage of people in a study or treatment group who are alive five years after they were diagnosed with or started treatment for cancer.

Case reports for evidence based medicine are presented according to various sites of cancer to give an overview of type of cancer, conventional treatment, initiation of Ayurvedic treatment, treatment analysis , investigations and resultant efficacy of treatment along with 5 year survival rate and remarks by oncologist.
Assessment of Treatment Outcomes.

  • Symptomatic relief either related to disease or toxicities of chemotherapy and radiation was seen.
  • Karnofsky Score and ECOG score are two most frequently used functional outcome scores. Both the score were used to describe  present condition of the patient.
Karnofsky Score
100 – Normal, no complaints, no evidence of disease.
90 – Able to carry on normal activity, minor signs or symptoms of disease.
80 – Normal activity with effort, some signs and symptoms of disease.
70 – Cares for self, unable to carry on normal activity or do active work.
60 – Requires occasional assistance but is able to care for most of his/her needs.
50 – Requires considerable assistance and frequent medical care.
40 – Disabled, requires special care and assistance.
30 – Severely disabled, hospitalization indicated; death not imminent.
20 – Very sick, hospitalization indicated; death not imminent.
10 – Moribund fatal processes progressing rapidly.

Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) Score
0 – Fully active, able to carry on all pre disease performance without restriction.
1 – Restricted in physically strenuous activity but ambulatory and able to carry out a light sedentary nature routine (e.g., light housework, office work).
2 – Ambulatory and capable of all self – care but unable to carry out any work activities; up and about > 50% of waking hours.
3 – Capable of only limited self – care, confined to bed or chair > 50% of waking hours.
4 – Completely disabled; cannot carry on any self – care, totally confined to bed or chair.

(Ref: Vincent DeVita et al, Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology, 7 th edition, 56.1, page 2720.)

  • Survival rate according to type of cancer as mentioned in literature was compared with respective patient in our project.
  • Modern investigations were also used to access the outcome of Ayurvedic treatment. Any suggestions from the experts in the field are most welcome.