The incidence of cancer is most prevalent in early and late decades of life. These are times when immune-competence is compromised.
Patients who are born with the compromised immune system have a 3-4 x greater incidence of cancer. We know that acquired immune deficiency (AIDS) increases the risk of having cancer.
People with Gliomas (a type of brain cancer) patients have ½ the number of lymphocytes compared to those without cancer. Lymphocytes are a crucial part of our immune system in that they aid in the production of antibodies and destroying foreign organism and cells such as cancer. Not only is lymphocytes counts down but also the functional ability of the T cells is quite suppressed compared to normal. In addition, NK (natural killer cells) are significantly lower.
People with head and neck cancer which like gliomas is localized and not widespread have also been shown to have impaired systemic immune function.
Unfortunately, the standard therapies used to fight cancer – chemo and radiation- suppress the immune system even more. Repeated studies have shown that relapse of cancer is associated with immune cell suppression.
On top of this assault on ones, immune system malignant cells/tissues have intrinsic properties that facilitate their survival by producing substances that disrupt and suppress the immune system.
This is one area where alternative medicine can make a difference both while receiving conventional therapy and afterward. The scientific literature is replete with studies showing that naturally occurring substances can actually stimulate the immune system to attack cancerous cells and prevent recurrence of cancer.