Treatment / Complementary & alternative therapies

Complementary & alternative therapies

Optimizing diet, exercise, and lifestyle through complementary and alternative approaches is designed to help improve overall health and allow traditional cancer therapies to work better.

Purpose of complementary & alternative therapies

Patients often ask what complementary & alternative approaches to traditional therapies are available for MCC. No studies have been done to test these approaches, but some of our patients have used alternative therapies and are very happy with them. We also routinely encourage our patients to expand their physical activity through regular participation in their favorite forms of exercise. Please remember that this information alone can’t take the place of the traditional health care that patients may need. Because of possible adverse side effects and drug interactions, we strongly encourage patients to consult with their primary physician and oncologist oncologist A doctor who specializes in treating cancer. Three main types of oncologists exist: radiation oncologist, medical oncologist, and surgical oncologist. before starting any new treatment regimen and to notify their pharmacist of any supplements they are taking.

Consultation with a Naturopathic Physician

Dr. Daniel Rubin of Scottsdale, AZ, has cared for several of our MCC patients and employs an integrated approach to diet and nutritional supplementation that he has customized for neuroendocrine neuroendocrine Neuroendocrine refers to the type of cells that make up Merkel cell carcinoma. "Neuro-" means that these cells have some sensory function related to the nervous system, while "endocrine-" refers to hormonal types of cells. Merkel cells have both such features. carcinomas such as MCC.  We have no financial links with Dr. Rubin. He is able to do phone consultations for those who cannot travel to Arizona.  His office phone is 480-990-1111. Learn more about Dr. Rubin here.

Optimizing Fruit & Vegetable Intake

It is universally agreed that eating fresh fruits and vegetables and having a healthy diet is good for general health including immune system function. It is, however, often difficult to get enough fruits and vegetables in a standard diet. Several of our patients are attempting to optimize their fruit and vegetable intake through “juicing.”

A Closer Look

When juicing fruits and vegetables, MCC patients have recommended the following: include dark veggies and fruits, scrub all your produce to remove any dirt and grime, don’t peel the produce or remove any rinds, skins, seeds and stems (except if you’re using oranges and grapefruits where you should remove the colored portion of the rinds), and make the juice using the WaringPro Juice Extractor or a similar model. Several patients have recommended the book Beating Cancer with Nutrition by Patrick Quillin as an additional tool to improve their health status in their fight against MCC.

Nutritional Supplements

Several of our patients take supplements to improve their nutritional status and augment the immune system. These include Host Defense® MyCommunity Capsules. Please note that we are not recommending or endorsing these products but are passing along information that our patients have used and liked. Please consult with a physician prior to beginning any nutritional supplementation program as some supplements can interact with certain medications.

Anticancer:  A New Way of Life by David Servan-Schreiber MD, PhD

Anticancer: A New Way of Life is a book that several patients have found useful about general health & lifestyle management that can be relevant in fighting cancer cancer A term used to describe diseases in which abnormal cells continually divide without normal regulation. Cancerous cells may invade surrounding tissues and may spread to other regions of the body via blood and the lymphatic system. . This book is available on Amazon.

Who this works for

People who strongly believe in a holistic approach to cancer therapy may benefit from coaching on diet, lifestyle, and exercise. Many people can benefit from more regular exercise, particularly if they can find types of exercise that are enjoyable and if the exercise can mean spending more time with family or friends who can walk, swim, or garden together.

Who this doesn’t work for

Most claims for the benefits of complementary/alternative medicine have not been scientifically verified. Some people already eat healthfully and get enough exercise.

Side effects

Certain supplements can have side effects and/or interact with prescription medications.

Often used in conjunction with

Traditional cancer therapy including surgery, radiation, or systemic systemic Affecting the entire body. Compare to local. medications. However, please consult with your physician prior to beginning any nutritional supplementation program as some supplements can interact with certain medications.


Are there aspects of holistic or complementary care that make sense for all cancer patients?

Yes. Ensuring that cancer patients have a good diet, sufficient exercise, and a realistic but optimistic outlook is likely to improve the efficacy of traditional cancer care as well as quality of life.

Should all patients participate in complementary or alternative therapies for their cancer?

No. Participation in these ‘scientifically unproven’ approaches to cancer therapy should be strictly voluntary.  Some patients are very keen to use these approaches and others have no interest. We never push our patients to engage in any specific alternative approach.