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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

All In The (Exceptional) Family

Two brothers, one seeking his profession in the practise of conventional medicine, the other choosing the unconventional, but remaining within the medical community One defied convention and his own family background, the other accepted the orthodox, their father once dean of medicine at the University of Ottawa, their mother a practising family physician. And two sisters also medical practitioners. What distinguishes the two brothers is not necessarily following in their parents' choice of serving the public weal, but that despite the tangential journey taken by one, the other sees merit in that choice.
"The results of the study will be internationally relevant and have the potential to alter care for cancer patients worldwide."
"We need to evaluate whether these things [naturopathic therapies versus traditional therapies converging] make a difference or not and do it in an integrative, holistic way. The truth is there are a lot of unproven therapies that are costly and I think there is a concern among physicians that patients can be taken advantage of. What I have always respected about my brother's approach is to focus on therapies that have some degree of evidence or to pursue our own research."
"The bottom line is we just need more data about what is beneficial. This is going to provide good evidence one way or another."
Dr. Andrew Seely, associate scientist, The Ottawa Hospital; director of research, division of thoracic surgery, associate professor, University of Ottawa
Ottawa Hospital Research Institute Doctors Dugald (left) and Andrew Seely have received a $3.85-million grant to co-lead a study on the link between naturopathic and mainstream cancer treatment.
Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
Andrew Seely's brother is Dugald Seely, the self-proclaimed family rebel who decided to become a naturopath. He is now the executive director of the Ottawa Integrative Cancer Centre, an affiliate investigator with the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. And he has joined his older brother, a thoracic surgeon, in an experiment they have named the Thoracic Peri-Operative Integrative Surgical Care Evaluation project. Its purpose: to pioneer "integrative care interventions" whose implementation pre- and post-cancer surgery will or will not give evidence that naturopathy can complement conventional medicine.

They have planned randomized control trials to study the use of integrative treatments for 300 esophageal, gastric and lung cancer patients scheduled to undergo surgery. This will be a study carried over an eleven year period with Ottawa, Kelowns, B.C. and Hamilton, Ontario representing study-trial locales.Their study has received a significant grant of $3.85-million from a Canadian foundation that prefers to remain unnamed, and represents the largest study of its kind yet undertaken, anywhere.

Should positive results emerge at the conclusion of the study period, the potential for change in medical protocols could be quite significant, indicating an initiative to integrate naturopathic treatments formally with conventional medicine, with the scientific backup of the study to advance new methods of treatment. There is high hope for these clinical trials. The same foundation that is bankrolling the study has as well funded a research project by the brothers examining the effect of melatonin on post-surgical lung cancer patients.

Canada's federal government is certainly interested in the outcome, with Health Minister Rona Ambrose characterizing the study as "an excellent opportunity for our top-notch researchers to demonstrate how innovation and co-operation can lead to improved health outcomes." Dugald Seely sees himself and his brother as scientists invested in good research. That said, he feels his brother is "courageous" to agree to conducting research with him. "It is an area (naturopathy) not many medical doctors are willing to look at but it is shifting."

As for his brother Andrew, his goal is to conjoin the best of what traditional medicine can offer and the best that naturopathy can offer if the study's conclusion reaches the indication point where this would be appropriate. "I just want to make sure my patients get the best possible care, and just maybe this approach might make a significant difference."

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