Integrative Oncology: How CHIPSA Hospital’s Approach is the Future of Cancer Treatment

The United States has certainly come a long way in the last few decades in its ability to successfully treat cancer. Yet still, so many people have died from the disease, creating a growing frustration over the lack of treatment options. Many standard of care protocols have been the same for over 30 years, with the signature therapies being chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. 

But studies are now showing that the immune system, and even nutrition, could also play a role in treating cancer. More and more doctors are beginning to advise cancer patients to change their diets and activate their immune systems.

What’s more, something remarkable happened in 2018 that suggests the face of cancer treatment may be changing the United States after all. 

integrative oncology
Dr. James Allison
and Dr. Tasuku Honjo

Drs. James Allison and Tasuku Honjo were awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine for their discovery of two immunotherapy drug pathways, PDL and CTLA4.

Their discoveries led to new cancer treatment options for U.S. patients: immunotherapy drugs like Opdivo, Keytruda, and Yervoy. Keytruda is also known as the “Jimmy Carter” drug, as it became famous when it successfully treated the former president’s advanced melanoma. 

So if these immunotherapy drugs are approved and available to the public, why aren’t more oncologists utilizing them?

The answer might surprise you. Most oncologists haven’t been trained how to use these immunotherapy drugs effectively. They are used to the standard, one-size-fits-all dosing of immunotherapy. But did you know that Keytruda was designed to be dosed based on body weight? 

The original suggestion for Keytruda was to give 2mg per kg of body weight. This means that a 150-pound person would receive 136mg of Keytruda rather than the standard 200mg that is the one-size-fits-all recommendation. 

The truth is, while immunotherapy drugs have given oncologists more treatment options, treating cancer requires a personalized attention to the patient as a whole. It’s well-known among immunologists that a combination approach is the best way to successfully treat cancer. The idea of a single treatment such as chemotherapy or radiation curing most cancers is becoming a lot less likely, especially considering what scientists are discovering through genetic testing. Research has shown that some cancers do not even allow an immune response. There truly is no “one-size-fits-all” cancer therapy.

What does this mean for cancer patients?

The cancer treatment of the future will be integrative. It will focus on the patient’s entire body rather than just on which drugs to give them. It will combine treatments like chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery with supplements, nutritional regimens, psychological support, and pharmaceutical intervention. The best of all available treatments will be meshed together to give the patient the best chance of success. Those allegiant to the three pillars of cancer treatment — surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation — will likely be on the wrong side of history. 

Fortunately, cancer patients can take part in the future of integrative medicine right now.

CHIPSA hospital located in Tijuana, Mexico has already been using cutting-edge immunotherapy techniques along with dietary intervention for nearly 40 years. The CHIPSA approach has attracted the attention of many scientists throughout the world. It involves an open-minded belief in both science and faith. Over the past four decades, the hospital has introduced different aspects of conventional therapy like checkpoint inhibitors and combined them with some of their foundational holistic treatments. 

Coley's CPG
Dr. Anton Escobedo
Medical Director at CHIPSA

“We believe that the strongest treatment options now are combining the best of what some would call “alternative” and the best of conventional,” said Dr. Anton Escobedo, the hospital’s medical director. “When people say we’re alternative, we like to just think we’re ahead of the curve. For many years now, we’ve been getting responses from patients who have failed standard-of-care treatments and were sent home to die. What’s happening now is that mainstream science is validating much of what we do. We’ve been waiting for this moment, and are grateful that it’s being accepted now.”

For many years CHIPSA suggested that its protocols activated the immune system. Now, the way it actually works is much better understood. 

One field of study is working on turning tumors from “cold” to “hot,” which thus makes them more likely to respond to checkpoint inhibitor drugs like Keytruda and Opdivo. Many patients who are currently taking these drugs in the U.S. are coming to CHIPSA for additional treatments that could possibly enhance the treatment and elicit a better response. 

Escobedo says that this is how the hospital receives many of its patients. “We are seeing more and more patients who are coming to CHIPSA because of this idea of turning a tumor from cold to hot,” he said. “Insurance will pay for their checkpoint inhibitor immunotherapy at home, and they will come to CHIPSA to increase their likelihood of response.”

The combination approach is thought to “prime” the tumor to recognized by the immune system. Size-specific immunotherapy treatment or SSIT allows patients to get customized checkpoint immunotherapy protocols that deliver the most thoughtful amount of treatment to the system. SSIT in combination with Coley’s CPG, low dose IPT chemotherapy, Apatone, and Gerson diet give the patient a thoughtful combination therapy approach. All of CHIPSA’s treatments are focused on alerting the immune system to the presence of cancer. 

Whether patients get their checkpoint inhibitor immunotherapy at CHIPSA, or they come to CHIPSA for SSIT, the hospital is committed to supporting patients to have the best possible chance of treatment response.

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