The Journal of Upper Cervical Chiropractic Research published a case study on December 7, 2017, documenting the addition of chiropractic care to medical care for a patient being treated for metastatic melanoma. According to the Melanoma Research Foundation, “Metastatic melanoma, also known as Stage IV melanoma, is used when melanoma cells of any kind have spread through the lymph nodes to distant sites in the body and/or to the body’s organs.”
The study authors begin by describing the seriousness of this condition, “Melanoma can begin in a mole but can also arise from other pigmented tissues such as the eye or intestinal tract. It is the most severe form of skin cancer as well as the least common.” There are four stages of melanoma. Stage IV is the most severe meaning that the melanoma has spread to distant parts of the body.
Malignant melanoma is the fifth most common type of tumor in the U.S. for men, and the sixth most common for women. The study notes that in 2013, approximately 76,690 new cases were diagnosed and 9,480 people died from this condition.
In this case, a 34-year-old woman with metastatic melanoma presented herself for chiropractic care. The woman had been previously diagnosed with metastatic melanoma and treated medically. After treatment, she was declared cancer-free.
Three months after being declared cancer-free, the woman got suddenly and severely ill. In the study, she described her ordeal, “One night in December I started having lighting flashes occurring on the right side of my vision. Then my head on the right side felt like it was going to explode. I sat down, then my arms became numb and tingling and after a few minutes the numbness and tingling traveled down into my left foot.”
Over the next 3 months, the woman continued to get worse till finally her doctors ordered a PET-CT scan. The scan showed ten small lesions in portions of her brain, and whole brain radiation was started. An additional PET-CT scan found that the cancer had spread to multiple areas in her body.
It was at this serious stage of her condition, and while suffering with a multitude of symptoms, that she sought chiropractic care. She received a chiropractic examination prior to care being started. After her first adjustment, the woman reported an increased in her energy levels resulting in her did not needing to nap as frequently as before. After additional adjustments, she reported that a number of her symptoms decreased. She reported that she could walk without needing to rest.
The patient then started a combination of medical care and chiropractic care. Four months into her combination of medical and chiropractic care, another PET-CT scan was performed to check on her progress. The radiologist who read the report commented on the improvment he noticed by stating, “There has been a dramatic response to therapy since the prior PET-CT scan.” He reported that many of the lesions had reduced in size. He also commented that, “No new lesions are present.”
Unfortunately, the study reports that, due to the seriousness and advanced state of the woman’s condition, she passed away about 2 years later. However, the study authors did report that the time she had left was made more comfortable. They noted, “She was virtually symptom-free up until her final months when her symptoms escalated.”
Adding chiropractic to medical treatment of cancer is becoming more common, the authors noted in their discussion, “There are multiple cancer treatment centers that include chiropractic care as part of their integrative medicine programs.” The researchers explain this by saying, “About half of cancer patients do not receive adequate pain relief throughout the course of their treatment or even post-treatment. Complications of prolonged bed rest, chronic pain due to radiation, chemotherapy-related neuropathies, and gait or functional abnormalities are among the complaints that cancer patients may have. A chiropractor can help manage these conditions and potentially decrease the patient’s need for pain medication.”