Medical Tourism – American Cancer Patients Who Seek Treatment in Foreign Countries

American cancer patients don’t have access to many cutting-edge treatments available overseas and right across the border.

German and Mexico are two countries that permit medical doctors to use alternative therapies not widely available in the United States. Because of very strict regulations, doctors here must limit their recommendations.

For the most part, the only treatments American oncologists can talk about are surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. If they suggest anything else, they may soon find themselves in the unemployment line.

This is why countless cancer patients, many of whom have exhausted conventional options, leave the country, in an effort to save their lives.

According to Wikipedia, more than one million patients cross the Southern California border, bound for Tijuana, every year. Not all of them have cancer, but many of them do.

Dozens of cancer clinics operate in this border community. Patients can expect to spend anywhere between several thousand dollars to about $15,000 for consultations, treatments, diagnostic tests, medications and follow-up care. They normally stay at the clinic for about two weeks, and they’ll be closely followed by medical staff when they return to the states.

Germany is also a popular destination for cancer patients, as it has numerous clinics. As with Mexico, treatment is very advanced. Although many believe the best medical care is found in the United States, this might not be the case for a dying cancer patient.

People with metastatic bone cancer, for instance, probably won’t find the cure they’re seeking with chemotherapy. Doctors know these drugs won’t eradicate the disease. The average person on the street knows the same thing. They’ll shake their heads in despair, when discussing the prognosis of someone whose malignancy has spread to the bones.

‘It’s in the bones,’ they’ll say, as if an early death is inevitable.

Not so in Germany. In addition to non-toxic immunological agents, patients with bone cancer often undergo something called ‘radio-wave hyperthermia.’ This zaps the cancer growing deep inside the body. If they are in otherwise good health, with no major damage to their vital organs, they can usually expect to regain their health.

Most patients who go to Germany bring a companion. They usually spend a little time exploring the German countryside as well.

What You Can Expect at a Foreign Clinic

You usually won’t be offered chemotherapy. But if that’s part of your treatment plan, it will usually be given in very low doses. You will also be prescribed specific supplements to offset the unpleasant and potentially dangerous side effects of these toxic drugs.

Alternative cancer specialists will strive to make you as healthy as possible, so you can fight your illness. The backbone of any treatment will be a clean diet with no processed foods. You’ll also eat a lot of organic fruits and vegetables.

Can people recover at these clinics, even if doctors in the United States have given up on them? That’s a question I’m not going to answer.

Anyone with a life-threatening disease will serve themselves well if they do their own research. Stories of Stage IV cancer survivors can now be found on blogs and websites all over the Internet.

Flickr photo (thumbnail) by matsuyuki

Flickr photo (above) by zemistor

Disclaimer: This article is not intended as medical advice and the author assumes no responsibility for treatment decisions. Patients with health concerns should discuss them with a licensed professional.