GROSSETO. «For a cancer patient,” alternative treatments “are the equivalent of a flying carpet as an alternative to a parachute for those who jump from an airplane. There are cures that work and cures that don’t work. Those alternatives don’t work. And that’s that”.
With a lapidary tweet published yesterday at 13.53, which relaunches a tweet from his colleague Salvo Di Grazia, Roberto Burioni, a well-known virologist, immunologist, academic and scientific popularizer, brings the frost down on the enthusiasm of the southeast ASL for the opening, in recent days, of the “Wellness techniques and lifestyles for cancer patients” clinic in the ward of oncology at the Misericordia hospital in Grosseto. And it risks creating a tsunami in a glass of water for a center of excellence such as the oncological one of Misericordia.
We specify that for a cancer patient the “alternative treatments” are the equivalent of the flying carpet as an alternative to a parachute for those who jump from an airplane. There are cures that work and cures that don’t work. Those alternatives don’t work. And that’s that. https://t.co/stLvffH8q7
– Roberto Burioni (@RobertoBurioni) April 2, 2022
So much so that the head of Oncology, Dr. Carmelo Bengala, immediately puts his hands forward: «A big misunderstanding has been created – explains Bengala – and wrong messages are being passed that must be deleted immediately. What is being done at the new clinic is not treating the tumor. We do that in our oncology center, which is a regional and national reference center, where cancer prevention, diagnosis, study and treatment are carried out at the level of the best national and foreign centers, using the best and most innovative therapies with the highest staff. level and preparation. And thanks to this therapeutic innovation we have had an important reduction in mortality around 11%. We’re not talking about alternative medicine here, let alone. I am against alternative medicine. I am a doctor of crazy scientific rigor, acquired over the years, and with a lot of research behind him. Here we are talking about an outpatient clinic that deals with the well-being of the cancer patient starting with nutrition, a correct lifestyle and relaxation ».
What are you talking about
Inaugurated on Wednesday and with already seven patients on the list, the “integrated oncological medicine” clinic was presented by the ASL as a “response for the support of patients who are faced with the contraindications of treatments (chemotherapy and radiotherapy) and the symptoms caused from the disease “.
Here they try to alleviate the side effects of chemo or radio. How? Through the use of relaxation techniques, correct lifestyles and traditional Chinese medicine practices such as acupuncture and moxibustion.
Di Grazia’s tweet
The first to openly criticize this initiative, as mentioned, was Except for gracegynecologist, author of a medicine blog on the Everyday occurrence. On April 1, on Twitter, he wrote: «The health company boasts of it too, but it gives me chills. Look at it well. I will never stop fighting for no patient to be treated like this. Nobody”. The tweet is accompanied by the photo of the clinic, disclosed by the ASL itself, in which you can see a shelf with bowls, candles and other material for traditional Chinese medicine treatments.
On the phone Di Grazia confirms: “It is scientific opinion that there is no evidence of the effectiveness of treatments such as acupuncture and moxibustion,” he explains. Not even to alleviate nausea, vomiting, pain and fatigue? «As a placebo effect they do something – Di Grazia points out – but do we really want to offer a placebo to patients who have important diseases? There was a time when ginger was used for nausea in pregnancy and I was also proposing it to my patients. Further studies showed that there was no effect and I stopped giving it. And it was ginger for nausea in pregnancy. Here we are talking about pain caused by cancer treatments… ».
According to Di Grazia, the perception that the legitimacy of these practices by the National Health Service generates in patients should not be underestimated. «It does nothing but create confusion in patients – explains Di Grazia – You open the door to something that doesn’t work, but it deludes people a little. And from here to more extreme things the step can be short ». So why should a public hospital offer scientifically unproven treatments? “Probably because there is a certain demand – says Di Grazia – or to project the image of an open and innovative hospital”.
The Bengal replica
“I repeat: I do the cancer treatment myself, in person, in our oncology center – he clarified for his part to Tyrrhenian Bengal -. The clinic takes care of something else. It is a multidisciplinary and multiprofessional, nursing and medical clinic, defined as “Wellness techniques and lifestyles”, and its goal is to improve the quality of life of our patients. Which, thanks to the fact that they are treated with the best therapies available, can very often recover or in any case survive much longer ».
Precisely because life expectancy has improved, an outpatient clinic was needed that followed the patient in his daily life, net of therapies. “This is why we have created a lifestyle clinic – says Bengala – where there is the involvement of the psycho-oncologist, the dietician and the nutritionist for a correct and healthy diet, and where there is an education in lifestyle life to prevent recurrence. The clinic also offers acupuncture and relaxation techniques, but above all nutrition and lifestyle education. There are analyzes and scientific works that show that relaxation techniques improve the quality of life during treatment ». Furthermore, Bengala points out, “drugs are not prescribed and no treatments are given. It is only patient support ».
For his part, Burioni, joined by Tyrrhenian by message, he reaffirms his thoughts about the role of these treatments on the disorders caused by anti-cancer treatments: “You must ask the ASL for evidence of effectiveness, not me for those of ineffectiveness”.
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