Cancer

Category archives for Cancer

If there’s one lesson that I like to emphasize while laying down my near-daily dose of Insolence, both Respectful and not-so-Respectful, it’s that practicing medicine and surgery is complicated. Part of the reason that it’s complicated is that for many diseases our understanding is incomplete, meaning that physicians have to apply existing science to their…

I hate these stories, because they so seldom end well. Unfortunately, this one is more messy than even the usual messiness of the typical story of this type. The type of story I’m referring to, of course, is one that I’ve told from time to time ever since near the first year of this blog’s…

Arguably, one of the most popular forms of so-called “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) being “integrated” with real medicine by those who label their specialty “integrative medicine” is acupuncture. It’s particularly popular in academic medical centers as a subject of what I like to refer to as “quackademic medicine“; that is, the study of pseudoscience…

It sucks to be diagnosed with cancer at any age, but it especially sucks to be young and diagnosed with cancer. The prompt application of science-based cancer treatment is important for anyone with cancer, but it’s especially important for young people with cancer, because they have the most life-years to lose if they dawdle or…

I often describe “integrative medicine” as integrating quackery with medicine because that’s what this inadvertently appropriately named branch of medicine in essence does. The reason, as I’ve described time and time again, is to put that quackery on equal footing (or at least apparently equal footing) with science- and evidence-based medicine, a goal that is…

Of all the forms of quackery that have been “integrated” into medicine of late, arguably one of the most popular is acupuncture. It’s offered in fertility clinics. It’s offered in hospitals and medical clinics all over the place. The vast majority of academic medical centers that have embraced quackademic medicine offer acupuncture. (Quackademic medicine, for…

Over the last week or so, I’ve noticed (or had brought to my attention) a series of articles discussing a phenomenon related to alternative medicine that I don’t believe that I’ve addressed before, at least not directly anyway. I had filed some of these in my folder of topics for blogging, but somehow never got…

After a trilogy of posts on the lamentably bad decision on the part of the Tribeca Film Festival to screen a pseudoscience- and misinformation-filled documentary by hero to the antivaccine movement, Andrew Wakefield, that is basically one long conspiracy theory, I thought it was time for a change. I had briefly toyed with the idea…

Medical research is a scientific enterprise, but, like most areas of science, nonscientific considerations have a great deal of influence over what sorts of research are funded. This is true regardless of who is funding the research. When it’s the government, obviously it’s impossible to avoid some degree of politics. (Indeed, politics is largely responsible…

Last week, I revisited a topic I first discussed in 2014 a couple of times. It is a topic that I find simultaneously amusing and depressing at the same time, specifically a private discussion forum known as Naturopathic Chat, or NatChat for short—or, as I like to say, Sh*t Naturopaths Say When They Think No…

I didn’t think I’d be writing about Stanislaw Burzynski again so soon, but to my surprise a very good article in Newsweek describing cancer quack Stanislaw Burzynski popped up in my Google Alerts yesterday. I hadn’t expected much in the way of news coverage about Burzynski for several months, given that the second half of…

Ever since the beginning of this blog, there’s one topic I’ve explored many, many times, mainly because of its direct relationship to my profession as a cancer surgeon. That topic is, of course, the question of why people fall for alternative medicine cancer “cures.” It started with one of my very earliest posts and continued…

A quack goes to prison, but it’s not enough

If there’s one thing that’s frustrating about the U.S. justice system, it’s just how slow the wheels of justice grind. For example, it’s hard to believe that it was over two years ago that “pH Miracle” quack Robert O. Young was arrested for fraud, grand theft, and practicing medicine without a license, producing one of…

I’ve been a big fan of David Bowie ever since high school. True, I didn’t appreciate his less mainstream stuff as intensely as I do now until I had been in college a couple of years, but it’s not an inaccurate to characterize the effect of David Bowie’s art on my life as significant. Basically,…

One of the recurring topics I write about is, of course, cancer quackery. It goes right back to the very beginning of this blog, to my very earliest posts more than 11 years ago. Over the years I’ve covered more cases than I can remember of patients relying on quackery instead of real medicine. In…

I feel as though I’m experiencing an acid flashback to 2011, and I’ve never in my entire life once tried acid—or any mind-altering substance other than booze. What am I talking about? Let’s take a trip down memory lane, if you will, back to those halcyon days of—oh—five years ago. That was the time when…

Breast cancer and delays in surgery

Every so often there are studies that I really mean to write about but, for whatever reason, don’t manage to get to. Sometimes I get a chance to get back to them. Sometimes I don’t. This time around I’m getting back to such a topic. This time around it’s a topic I’ve been meaning to…

One of my favorite television shows right now is The Knick, as I described before in a post about medical history. To give you an idea of how much I’m into The Knick, I’ll tell you that I signed up for Cinemax for three months just for that one show. (After its second season finale…

Although I don’t write about him as much as I used to, there was a time a couple of years ago when Houston cancer quack Stanislaw Burzynski was a frequent topic of this blog. His story, detailed in many posts on this blog and in an article I wrote for Skeptical Inquirer, is one that…

The other day, I suddenly realized that it’s been a long time since I’ve written about the Polish expat doctor in Houston who treats patients with advanced brain cancer with a concoction that he dubbed antineoplastons (ANPs). I’m referring, of course, to Stanislaw Burzynski who, despite the fact that he has no training in medical…

It’s no secret that I’m not a big fan of naturopathy. It is, as my good bud Kimball Atwood has said, a prescientific system of medicine rooted in vitalism, the idea that there is a “life energy” and a “healing power of nature.” Naturopaths invoke very simplistic concepts to explain the cause of disease, such…

One of the things that feels the weirdest about having done the same job, having been in the same specialty, for a longer and longer time is that you frequently feel, as the late, great Yogi Berra would have put it, déjà vu all over again. This is particularly true in science and medicine, where…

One of the more depressing topics that I regularly write about includes of analyses of news stories of children with cancer whose parents decided to stop science-based treatment (usually the chemotherapy) and use quackery instead. There are, of course, variations on this theme, but these stories take form that generally resembles this outline: A child…

When last I discussed the cruel sham that is the tide of “right-to-try” laws that has been flowing through state legislatures to become law over the last year and a half. “Right-to-try” laws, as I pointed out when I first noted the earliest ones being promoted in Colorado, Louisiana, Arizona, and Missouri, referring to them…

Over the years, I’ve frequently made the points that the vast majority of physicians are not scientists and, in fact, that many of them suffer from a severe case of Dunning-Kruger when it comes to science. Even going back to the very early history of this blog, you can find examples, the most common of…