Fantastic Chemo Response - Was it the Curcumin?

My wife was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in Sept '11. She had a laparotomy and her ovaries, tubes, womb & omentum were removed together with "kilograms" of tumour, but we told there was inoperable tumour remaining in the colon and spleen.

She was then started on Paclitaxel/Carboplatin (PC) chemo; we persuaded her oncologist to sanction our use of Curcumin at the same time (having read great things about this ingredient of the curry spice, Turmeric, on the internet).

After three rounds of PC a scan showed significant improvement but the remaining tumour was still considered inoperable, so the next 3 rounds of chemo was scheduled to be followed by a one-year course of Avastin. Another scan was taken at the end of the chemo and the Avastin treatment was started.

It turned out that the scan at the end of the 6th chemo showed a remarkable change, so the oncologist got back to the surgical team and they scheduled an operation for optimal debulking and possible bowel resection. They had to wait 6 weeks after the last of the Avastin was given and the surgery took place last week.

A 12 inch section of the colon had to be removed because of damage previously caused by the cancer... but there was no active disease visible on it or anywhere else in the abdomen - even the spleen was completely normal in appearence!

The cancer surgeon told us that he has no doubt that the PC chemo regime, Curcumin & subsequent Avastin have together somehow brought about this fantastic reversal of our situation.

We are now looking forward to a precautionary further 3 rounds of PC chemo and then a genuine hope of a long-lasting "cure"!

If you are reading this and know someone on (or about to start) PC chemo for ovarian cancer - why not discuss this with their oncologist too? (I would never advise taking supplements without letting your medical team know... it is known, for example, that Curcumin can actually intefere with other types of chemotherapy!)

I wish you the best in your encounter with this vile disease and hope that the sufferer in your case can achieve some sort of similar improvement - it's not necessarily the immediate death sentence my wife and I assumed it was at the end of last year!

32 Replies

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  • What fantastic news, thank you for sharing this, and a big welcome to this site. Sending you and your wife my very best wishes. x G x :-)

  • Dear Plum

    What an amazing story. I'm so delighted that you and your wife have had such good news after what was a pretty awful diagnosis. I can only wish you continued good health and for you both to enjoy the wonderful gift you've been given.

    I'm fascinated by the idea of Curcumin, Avastin and the two chemotherapy treatments. I wonder if you'd be kind enough to explain the dosage of Curcumin. I had been thinking of consulting an Ayurvedic practitioner whilst I'm in remission. I'll definitely look into it. Why not? Classic western medicine doesn't work yet on this beastly disease so it seems practical and sensible to look elsewhere.

    Thank you for taking time to share this idea with us. Whilst it's not a proven cure from the medical point of view I think that any reasonable steps we take to seek for a solution must be good.

    best wishes to you and your wife. xx Annie

  • Without extensive data from trials, scientifically derived dosage reccomendations are not available :-(

    What I can say is that my wife has been (and continues) taking 2g a day... she's very light (only 6 stone when she started chemo). I have read of some trials where patients are given 8g a day... there seem to be few side-effects.

  • Thank you so much for letting us know all of this.

    I am not allowed to take Curcumin at the moment. But its nice to know there is something else out there. And I hope the medics get on and test it out.

    Very best wishes to you and your wife.

    Sarah

  • There's a lot of research being done at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas by Prof Bharat Aggarwal. He recommends working up to a dose of 8gms of curcumin daily, with bioperine. If you visit the MD Anderson website, you'll find lots of information.

    I am not on any conventional treatment at the moment, but I have continued with curcumin for two weeks a month. I use Dr's Best, 1,000 mgms curcumin tablets with bioperine. Whether this does any good or not, I do not know. I suspect the belief that you are doing something to fight recurrence is as important, if not more so, than the specifics.

    There are side effects, commonly diarrhoea. Curcumin can interfere with chemo, particularly doxil. Also, taking it at the recommended dose is expensive. There are problems with the absorption and bioavailability of curcumin - that's why you have to take such a high dose.

  • How interesting, Plum. Thanks for that. I've heard that curcumin is showing some interesting results, as is ginger. All these old simple remedies ........makes you think!

    Love Wendy xx

  • Yes, my wife takes ginger too; I forgot to mention that one! While we're on the subject, I probably should also mention Calcichew D3 Forte.

  • Well I'm up for trying this. Will see where to get Calcichew D3 Forte. My favourite tipple is Lemon and Ginger Tea so perhaps that counts towards the ginger element of the prescription.

    xx Annie

  • I'm sure you said it in jest, but I'd like to clarify that I'm not prescribing anything (I'm a software engineer not a doctor!) - I'm just relating what's turned from a horror story into a fairy tale as far as I'm concerned :-)

    My wife's being discharged tomorrow as her recovery has continued to be good :-) :-)

  • Your post about your wife is very interesting and encouraging. I'm a 13 year survivor (thriver) of Stage 4 Ovarian Cancer and in remission since finishing first line treatment back in November 1999.

    I have ALWAYS passionately felt the need to be doing something else to stop the cancer from returning, so I've done various things in this regard. There are 3 things in particular I continue to do and will do so until I die from some some other cause:-) I've been following the Budwig Protocol (albeit loosely) for about 12 years and my Ca 125, after being 9800 at diagnosis has ranged over the past 13 years from a low of 2 to a high of 11. I know that for many people, a high of 11 doesn't sound like much, but I wasn't too happy about it and so about 18 months ago I began adding 1/2 teaspoon of Tumeric (Circumin is in Tumeric), 1/2 teaspoon of ginger and 1/2 teaspoon of Cinnamon to my Flax-oil and cottage cheese mixture, which I have every day and never miss. My last 3 Ca 125's dropped to 8 and then last week found my latest one to be a 7. I truly believe the addition of the 3 spices have helped!

    I'm delighted to hear that your wife is doing so great, after a such poor start. I'm sure she's going to live to a ripe old age - just as I hope to.

    Thanks for writing.

    Sandy (from BC, Canada, but originally a 'Yorkshire lass).

  • Sandy,

    Congratulations on your surviving stage 4 (I love the 'thriver' label). I also integrate budwig (emulsify flax oil and plain organic yoghurt) as a base for yoghurts and ice creams a few times a week, integrating root ginger, cinnamon (good for circulation), and turmeric.

    My ca125 went down to 5 after surgery and 1 chemo, and has stayed there for 3.5 years after 3c grade 3.

    I'm posting a quote from Servan-Schreiber on this subject as it tells us how to magnify the benefits of turmeric.

    Isadora - another 'Thriver'!

  • Isadora,

    Your OC history sounds as interesting and revealing as mine. We sound very alike in how we approach 'stuff'. I know that black pepper ought to be used with the Circumin, but my throat reacts to it (in and on food) and have horrid choking sessions - where I actually stop breathing. However, I've never tried it in my Flax-oil and cottage cheese mixture - yet (there's always a first time).

    It's always so uplifting to read your posts to the group. I believe your ideas on cancer prevention are so very helpful to newly diagnosed women. Congratulations on your 3.5 year 'in remission'. I was told by my Gyn/Onc that to get over that first 3 years was crucial - and you have done that easily - so congratulations!

    Sandy.

  • Very interesting indeed and thank you for posting this and it's great to hear how well your wife is doing.

    I will share this information with my mother who has stage 4 OC.

    I was wondering how long your wife was on avastin ? You said they scheduled a year on avastin initially.

  • I think she only had 3 or perhaps 4 doses of Avastin (at 3-weekly intervals) - we had to wait at least 6 weeks after the last one before they could do the latest surgery (Avastin suppresses the formation of new blood-vessels and would seriously interfere with post-op wound healing!)

  • Thanks for your prompt response, and thanks to Isadora for always giving valuable diet information.

    If I understand correctly Plum, your wife's good results on the scan were prior to her taking Avastin?

  • It was a pre-Avastin scan that made them decide the cancer had become operable... but there were still signs of disease on that scan... they report there was *no* visible disease last Thursday when they looked for themselves. All that had happened in the interim was 3 or 4 doses of Avastin and continuing Curcumin. They seem pretty surprised about it themselves.

  • I have no doubt that turmeric is a wonderful spice to help with treatment, recovery and prevention of recurrence. I have food with it in as often as possible - certainly most days. I'm v lucky in that my husband cooks the most wonderful vegetarian curries. amd always makes sure they contain turmeric and pepper:

    "Turmeric magnificently illustrates they benefit of the great culinary traditions, in comparison to the consumption of isolated substances. When researchers in Taiwan tried treating cancerous tumours with turmeric delivered in capsules they discovered that it was very poorly absorbed by the digestive system.* In fact when it is not mixed with pepper - as it always has been in curry- turmeric does not pass the intestinal barrier. Pepper multipies the body's absorption of turmeric by two thousand.** Indian wisdom has thus been far ahead of modern science in the discovery of natural affinities between foods.

    *Phase1 clinical trial of curcumin, a chemopreventive agent, in patients with high-risk or pre-malignant lesions.

    **Influence of piperine on the pharmacokinetics of curcumin in animals and human volunteers. "

    - Anticancer a New Way of Life - Dr D Servan-Schreiber.

    It has long made more sense to me to eat beneficial spices, vitamins and minerals as part of the general diet, rather than as supplement in pill/capsule form. Firstly, your digestive system is in 'digesting' mode, so the absorption must be better. Secondly; incorporating beneficial components encourages thinking about, plannning and enjoying the process of healthy eating.

    The one 'supplement' I still take is Transfer Factor. I'm a bit superstitious about it, I realise. I have taken it since I first was told I had to have an operation (before cancer was discovered - to remove an enlarged groinal lymph node), and in part attribute my smooth passage through aggressive 3c treatment to it.

    Isadora.

  • Hi Isadora - what is transfer factor?

  • Hi Isadora

    Thanks for sharing and posting this. Do you follow any diets like low carb, vegan, dairy free etc...?

    A big thank you to everyone here for their comments too. Makes a very interesting read.

    Best Wishes

    Sue

  • healthleadsuk.com/supplemen...

    Explains it better than I can!

    I.

  • Thank you Isadora !

  • such an interesting conversation........i've been doing the budwig breakfast...quark and flaxseed oil for a short time but do it everyday.....had two rounds of treatment so far, the last one finished mid April and afetr my 3 month check up on 12Th jUNE was down to 31...and I really want to keep it down....also use tumeric as often as possible....hadn't thought of putting it in the 'muesli', I also add raspberries and blue berries and manuka honey.....do you think that is ok?

    One question though......I am going on holiuday next week hoe do you do it when you are away?

  • Hi Florence,

    Brilliant about your ca125!!

    All sounds good - I would avoid honey and use agave nectar - but it probably doesn't make too much difference.

    While away, either take your food with you or, if you are going abroad take a small blender with you, or buy/borrow one there. Can you take a bottle of flax oil? I don't know!! If you're going to a hotel ask them to source some for you?

    Good luck,

    Isadora.

  • Thank you..yes going abroad...where do you the agave nectar from....what do you think about trican...as talked about on the budwigdiet diet? Yes good idea will take my blender with me....and try and get some flax oil there...

  • agave nectar is available in most supermarkets (http://www.tesco.com/groceries/Product/Details/?id=268886433&sc_cmp=pcp_GSF_68136179). I haven't used trican and don't know where to get it.

    Have a wonderful holiday!

    I.

  • Thank you!!!

    How r u doing?xx

  • What a lot of hope in these posts! Plum, that is such good news about your wife's response. It is so hard when you are given a poor prognosis at the start to realise that it is not embedded in stone and things can work out better than seems possible.

    All the dietary information is fascinating - my oncologist believes that eating well and anything in moderation is helpful, but beyond that - well there is no hard evidence. I too feel that once my treatment is over I will want to do something for myself beyond hoping for the best, and I have picked up many ideas here of what I might do! Thank you all.

    Monique

  • Absolutely brilliant news. Really pleased for you both and good thoughts go your way.

  • 1st 3-monthly CA-125 blood test result is in - it's down to single digits!!! It was already down to under 20 when my wife's treatment finished towards the end of last year, but we never dreamed we'd be seeing a further impressive reduction (we *both* continue to take curcumin and ginger :-)

    I have thought of you all often since I last logged on to post here - I really hope you have been able to get comfort and happiness in your own situation whatever it may be.

  • Could I ask Plum how many mg of curcumin your wife takes a day? My mum has some 500mg tablets and we were wondering how many she should take?

    What excellent news about the CA 125 - long may it continue!!

  • We use 400mg capsules like these: amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00... - my wife is very light and takes 2 a day - I am *much* heavier and take 4 a day. I have heard the figure 8000mg per day being used in trials so we're hardly overdosing!

    HTH

  • Hi Plum

    So very pleased that your wife is still doing well. I only found your recent post because I did a search on curcumin to find the dosage. If you have time please could you consider posting this news as a blog, more people will see it and i am sure it would give us ladies a lot of encouragement!

    All the best

    Brenda

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