Cancer

Respectful Insolence

Category archives for Cancer

If there’s one thing that I write that I don’t feel I repeat too much (although some might disagree), it’s that, unlike other centers and institutes at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), there is not, and never was, a compelling scientific justification for the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) to exist…

CVS, tobacco, and knee jerk reflexes

Now we come to a post in which Orac unloads a bit about one of his pet peeves. It is a post that will likely piss a few people off on “his” side. If it does, so be it. He does this now because yesterday something happened that irritated the crap out of me because…

Since I’ve been complaining about credulity in the media reporting on cancer this week, in particular the way local reporters Carol Robidoux and April Guilmet published articles that were nothing more than regurgitations of propaganda from Stanislaw Burzynski, I figured I might as well go all in and finish the week out with more of…

Believe it or not, I’m about to say the one and only good thing I will say about Stanislaw Burzynski in this post. After all, I was always taught to find the good in my opponents, no matter how vile I find them. Burzynski, for instance, has been peddling a cure for brain cancer (and…

When last I wrote about the sad saga of Sarah Hershberger, the 12-year-old Amish girl from northeastern Ohio with lymphoblastic lymphoma whose parents, Andy and Anna Hershberger, decided to stop her chemotherapy resulting in legal action by Akron children’s Hospital to have a medical guardian appointed to make sure that Sarah continues effective science-based therapy…

Being a cancer surgeon and researcher, naturally I tend to write about cancer a lot more than other areas of medicine and science. It’s what I know best. Also, cancer is a very common area for unscientific practices to insinuate themselves, something that’s been true for a very long time. The ideas don’t change very…

I realize that I just wrote about infamous cancer doctor Stanislaw Burzynski yesterday. (Note how I refuse to call him an “oncologist,” mainly because he isn’t one, having never completed an oncology fellowship—or even an internal medicine residency, the usual prerequisite to do an oncology fellowship.) However, there’s a bit more that I wanted to…

The year 2013 finished with serious setbacks for Stanislaw Burzynski and his unproven cancer treatment that he dubbed “antineoplastons” (ANPs) way back in the early 1970s. As you might recall, in November, two things happened. First, the FDA released its initial reports on its inspection of the Burzynski Clinic and Burzynski Research Institute (BRI) carried…

Practitioners of “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) have a love-hate relationship with randomized clinical trials (RCTs). Actually, it’s mostly hate, but they do crave the validation that only randomized clinical trials can provide within the paradigm of evidence-based medicine (EBM). Yes, I intentionally said EBM, rather than science-based medicine (SBM), because, as I’ve described so…

Well, that didn’t take long. I knew it had been too quiet on the Burzynski front. In retrospect, that was almost certainly because of the holidays, but the holidays are over, and real life is here again. Yes, the year 2014 is only a little more than a week old, and here comes Stanislaw Burzynski…

Life is a fatal disease

Believe it or not, even your ever-lovin’ box of colored blinking lights can malfunction, and it happened to me over the weekend. Actually, sometime around New Years, I caught some sort of crud, and have been battling it since. There’s nothing like hacking up a lung and not being able to sleep well for days…

One of the more bizarre bits of cancer quackery that I’ve come across is that of an Italian doctor (who, like many cancer quacks, appears not to be a board-certified oncologist) named Tullio Simoncini, who claims that cancer is really a fungus and has even written a book about it, entitled, appropriately enough for this…

As I write this, 2013 is drawing to a close, with only a little more than 12 hours to go before the crowds now gathering at Times Square and elsewhere ring in 2014. For some of you, 2014 has already arrived or will arrive many hours before it does for me. I’m not normally one…

NOTE: Because I’ve been (kind of) relaxing over this holiday period, this is not an entirely new post. It is, however, a significantly expanded and reworked version of a post from nearly four years ago. So if you haven’t been reading four years, it’s new to you, and if you have you might or might…

Sarah Hershberger comes home to die

It was a couple of weeks ago that I last provided an update on the case of Sarah Hershberger, the 11-year-old Amish girl from Medina County, Ohio with lymphoblastic lymphoma whose parents decided to stop her chemotherapy because of how sick it was making her. As I explained early on and on multiple occasions afterward,…

One of the frequent topics on this blog is, unsurprisingly, cancer quackery. Be it the Gerson therapy and its propensity for encouraging patients to take hundreds of supplements and to shoot copious amounts of coffee where it really doesn’t belong (where the sun don’t shine), the Gonzalez protocol, homeopathy, naturopathy, or various other nonsensical and…

I remember during medical school that more than one of my faculty used to have a regularly repeated crack that the only thing that taking vitamin supplements could do for you was to produce expensive pee. My first year in medical school was nearly thirty years ago now; so it’s been a long time. During…

These days, Dr. Oz seems to stand for everything I oppose in medicine: Fear mongering, quackery, making claims that he can’t back up with science, and, of course, filthy lucre. On second thought, I’m not against filthy lucre per se. In fact, I wouldn’t mind having some of it myself. However, I also want to…

The central mystery of Stanislaw Burzynski is how he keeps managing, no matter what is thrown at him by state and federal medical authorities, to keep on treating patients with deadly cancers. He’s like the Energizer Bunny; he just keeps going and going and going and going. Or maybe he’s like the game Whac-A-Mole™, where,…

Vaccines against the human papilloma virus (HPV), such as Gardasil and Cervarix, seem to have a strange power over people who are otherwise reasonable about science and vaccines. For some reason, HPV vaccines seem to have an uncanny ability to turn such people into raging antivaccinationists almost as loony as the merry band of antivaccine…

Three weeks ago, USA TODAY published an expose of the Burzynski Clinic by Liz Szabo that was devastating in its scope and detail. Early on, Stanislaw Burzynski and his minions tried to do some damage control, with hilarious results given how inept and unconvincing his excuses were for all the violations of ethics and patient…

I fear that Sarah Hershberger is now doomed

I am afraid. I am afraid that the Amish girl with cancer whose parents’ battle to treat her with “natural” therapy instead of effective science-based chemotherapy has made international news, is doomed. It might take longer than doctors have estimated, but it seems inevitable now. I will explain. It’s hard to believe that it’s been…

I don’t normally ask you, my readers for much, if anything, other than to read and for the subset of you who like to be active in the comments to have at it and, if so inclined, to cover my back by swatting down the trolls, quacks, and antivaccinationists who occasionally show up to infest…

It figures. Whenever there’s a holiday or a break where I’m not paying as much attention to the blog as usual, something always seems to happen regarding a story I’m interested and have been blogging about. Remember Sarah Hershberger? She’s 11 year old Amish girl who developed lymphoblastic lymphoma, underwent one round of chemotherapy, suffered…

Well, Thanksgiving’s over, and the orgy of consumerism known as Black Friday is in full swing. Personally, I have to work, at least part of the day, and I don’t go anywhere near the stores on Black Friday anyway. I haven’t for years. So we might as well briefly discuss a bit of science today.…