If these growth factor blood tests and immune system blood tests are so useful, why doesn’t my oncologist order them?
There could be a wide variety of reasons why your oncologist may not order these lab tests. The most likely reason is that the lab tests are not as useful to the oncologist as they are to the naturopathic doctor when selecting therapies. Chemotherapy, for example, does not boost the immune system nor does it target a particular cancer growth factor thus, ordering these specialized lab tests will not help your oncologist pick one chemo from another. Various natural medicines, however, can for example, increase killer T-cell and NK cell activity or reduce growth factors like IL8 or fibrinogen. Having knowledge of these lab tests will help select indicated natural medicines and help track their effects in your body.
Can natural medicines be combined with conventional therapies like radiation or chemotherapy?
Some natural medicines absolutely can be combined and some, absolutely cannot. There are numerous animal and human studies which have demonstrated improved responses and fewer side effects to chemotherapy and radiation when various natural medicines are utilized. Dr. Belanger is very familiar with the research on this topic and is very knowledgable about nutritional supplement and drug interactions. It is not uncommon to see patients have much better responses and fewer side effects to conventional therapies than predicted after they add specific herbal and nutritional supplements to their regimen. For more information on the research combining natural medicines with chemotherapy please listen to the three radio shows starting with episode 1 at
How does diet play a role in the therapy?
There are numerous animal and human studies on dietary modifications and cancer. Dr. Belanger is a big proponent of a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids, cruciferous veggies and low glycemic foods and a diet low in omega-6 fatty acids, low fiber foods and sugar. This type of diet has been show to lower several cancer growth factors such as serum insulin, IGF-1 and PGE2.
What is a typical office visit like?
your first visit, Dr. Belanger will take a full history and may do a brief physical exam. He will then explain how the immune system properly functions to detect and destroy cancer cells and how this system can become impaired in people with cancer. He will most likely recommend blood tests to determine the state of your immune system and to check for the presence of circulating cancer growth factors. He may also recommend a test called Oncostat plus to determine the sensitivity of circulating cancer cells found in your blood to various natural medicines and/or conventional drugs.
If you are receiving chemotherapy and/or radiation or are about to start these treatments, Dr. Belanger will review the research with you on how various natural medicines can reduce cancer cells from developing resistance. If you are about to start chemotherapy and/or radiation, you will be requested to come in at least 10 days in advance, if possible, because pre-treatment with natural medicines may be more effective for preventing resistance. During the appointment, a combination of nutritional supplements will be recommended based on the therapies you are or will be receiving. The purpose of these supplements will be to increase your response to the chemotherapy and/or radiation and decrease their side effects.
Approximately two to three weeks after your first appointment, you will be scheduled for a second appointment to discuss the laboratory results, and Dr. Belanger may recommend some nutritional supplements to help correct any abnormalities seen in your blood tests. He will give you a handout and also begin to review the research on dietary changes and cancer and teach you the best foods to eat and the best foods to avoid.
After your second appointment, the frequency of your follow-up appointments will depend on the stage of your cancer and whether you are also concurrently receiving conventional therapies. Generally, Dr. Belanger will suggest that you repeat some of the immune tests and the growth factors which were elevated one month after your second appointment. The purpose of these repeat tests is to confirm that the nutritional supplements and dietary changes are helping. When the results of these tests are back, Dr. Belanger may make some changes to your supplement list if the labs are not more favorable. If you respond well (i.e. all your immune system tests improve and the cancer growth factors decrease), your outcome should improve. (i.e., you may have improved scans or the cancer may stop growing or become slower growing).
What are the rates for office visits or telephone consults?
office visits and telephone consults with Dr. Belanger cost $230. If the visit runs over one hour, $57.50 will be added for each additional 15 minutes. For telephone consults, an additional 15 minutes may be added to account for time spent typing and e-mailing the treatment plan.
Second visits and additional visits cost $115 If these visit(s) run over 30 minutes, $57.50 will be added for each additional 15 minutes.
If you are a current member of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, 10% will be deducted from your office visit charges. If you are 65 years old or older or a full-time student and do NOT have Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts , 10% will be deducted from your office visit charges.
Are office visits covered under insurance?
Unfortunately, at this time, the cost of a naturopathic doctor’s services are not covered by insurance. However, if you choose to try to submit an insurance form for reimbursement, we would be glad to provide a copy of our bill for your use. For those who qualify, we do offer a 10% discount on office visits for senior citizens over age 65 and full-time students. Blue Cross subscribers receive a 10% discount on office visits. Accepted forms of payment are cash, check and all major credit cards.
How much will the nutritional supplements cost?
Costs are hard to predict and can vary from month to month and person to person. If there are multiple laboratory test abnormalities one may need more supplements than someone with a few imbalances. Nutritional supplements can range between $50.00 to $1000.00 a month.
What brands of nutritional supplements do you use?
Vital Nutrients and Pure Encapsulations are two common companies we recommend because they perform a tremendous amount of quality control testing on their products to assure they are free from contaminants and that they meet their label claim.
What laboratories do you use and what are the costs of the lab tests?
Dr. Belanger primarily uses Labcorp, Pharmasan labs and sometimes RGCC laboratory. These labs offer many tests to assess growth factors and immune imbalances involved in cancer progression. Labs like Quest Diagnostics have more limited testing. Labcorp and Pharmasan labs often bills insurance companies, but we cannot guarantee that the labs will be covered. To help insure that they are covered, it is your responsibility to check with your insurance company before having the blood work. Blood work performed at RGCC laboratory are not covered by insurance and can range in cost from $500 to $3000. If your insurance won’t pay for the Labcorp and Pharmasan tests, we will let you know which tests are most important and their individual costs.
We hope that having this info rmation is helpful to you. If you have any questions or need additional information, please call our office at (781) 274-6190, and we will be glad to help. Remember, you have an incredible healing ability deep within your body! Don’t underestimate your natural defenses against cancer. If you replenish your body with the help of naturopathic medicines and wholesome foods, it can do amazing things!