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Spontaneous Remission of Cancer: Theories from Healers, Physicians, and Cancer Survivors


BACKGROUND: Spontaneous Remission (SR) of cancer is defined as the disappearance, complete or incomplete, of cancer without medical treatment, or with treatment that is considered inadequate to produce the resulting disappearance of disease symptoms or tumor. PURPOSE: This study sought to answer two questions: 1) What causative theories do alternative healers, physicians, and SR survivors propose for SR?; and, 2) Do SR survivors have a strong Sense of Coherence (SOC)? METHODS: Healers and physicians from 11 countries (n1=50) and SR survivors (n2=20) were interviewed in-depth; 17 of the 20 cancer survivors also completed an SOC scale. RESULTS: Six treatments that may elicit SR emerged frequently among both SR and Healer/Physician subjects: 1) Deepening one's spirituality; 2) Trusting in intuition regarding health decisions; 3) Releasing negative and/or repressed emotions; 4) Feeling love/joy/happiness; 5) Changing one's diet; and, 6) Taking herbal/vitamin supplements. In addition, three underlying theories about health emerged: 1) In order to remit cancer, one must change the underlying conditions that allow it to thrive; 2) Illness=Blockage/Slowness; Health=No Blockage/Movement; and, 3) A body-mind-spirit interaction exists. SOC scale results tentatively indicate that SR subjects may have a higher SOC than general populations, but not than other cancer survivors. IMPLICATIONS: Researchers are encouraged to use the results of this study to design research studies that assess the impact that these six treatments and three theories may have on cancer survival.

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