Cancer

Respectful Insolence

Category archives for Cancer

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.…

I know I have readers who are neuroscientists. However, do I have readers who are currently attending the 4th Quadrennial Meeting of the Society of Neuro-Oncology in San Francisco going on this weekend? Why do I ask? Given the Regular readers might suspect that it has to do something with a man who has become…

I was very pleased last Friday, very pleased indeed. Given the normal subject matter of this blog, in which we face a seemingly unrelenting infiltration of pseudoscience and quackery into even the most hallowed halls of academic medicine, against which we seem to be fighting a mostly losing battle, having an opportunity to see such…

I’ve made no secret of how much I despise Stanislaw Burzynski, the self-proclaimed cancer doctor and medical researcher who has been treating patients with an unproven, unapproved chemotherapeutic agent since 1977, seemingly slithering around, under, over, and past all attempts to investigate him and shut him down. Along the way, Burzynski has become a hero…

It’s been a while since I’ve written about Stanislaw Burzynski, the Houston cancer doctor who inexplicably has been permitted to continue to administer an unproven cancer treatment to children with deadly brain cancers for nearly 37 years now. Beginning in 1977, when he left Baylor College of Medicine and opened up the Burzynski Clinic, Burzynski…

Why we fight for patients

Never let it be said that Orac can’t match Mark Crislip in shameless promotion. The world might indeed need more Mark Crislip™, but I like to think that it needs a bit more of his friends, too. So, in that spirit, here are the videos, recently released by the James Randi Educational Foundation, of Bob…

Sarah Hershberger and Zija MLM

Like many cases of children with cancer whose parents tried to deny them curative therapy in the past that I’ve written about, I’ve become intensely interested in the case of 10-year-old Amish girl with lymphoblastic lymphoma. Her name is Sarah Hershberg, and, in a rare instance of the state actually stepping in to protect the…

Here we go again. Over the last month or so, I’ve been intermittently writing about a very sad case, a case that reminds me of too many cases that have come before, such as Abraham Cherrix, Kate Wernecke, Daniel Hauser, and Jacob Stieler. All of these are stories of children who were diagnosed with highly…

A tragic breast cancer tale misused

Having just discussed yesterday the demonization of chemotherapy and how bad its side effects can be, I was thinking last night that it was time to move on, that I had gotten stuck in rut writing too many cancer-related posts in a row. Then, as so often happens, I came across something that so irritated…

If there’s one medical treatment that proponents of “alternative medicine” love to hate, it’s chemotherapy. Rants against “poisoning” are a regular staple on “alternative health” websites, usually coupled with insinuations or outright accusations that the only reason oncologists administer chemotherapy is because of the “cancer industrial complex” in which big pharma profits massively from selling…

Children are not their parents’ property

Yesterday’s post about Sarah Hershberger, the Amish girl from northeast Ohio with lymphoblastic lymphoma who refused chemotherapy, prompting a court battle that led to the appointment of a medical guardian for her to make sure she receives treatment, got me to thinking (always a dangerous thing). Actually, I had to think back over the years…

A couple of weeks ago, I commented on the story of 10 year old Amish girl in northeast Ohio with cancer whose parents, alarmed by the side effects of chemotherapy, had decided to stop the chemotherapy and treat their daughter with folk medicine instead. As a result, alarmed at the likelihood that Sarah Hershberger would…

I was doing my usual browsing of the web yesterday in search of topics for today’s post when I came across an excellent article by a colleague and friend of mine, Dr. Rachael Dunlop, who nailed it in a post entitled Anti-vaccination activists should not be given a say in the media. In the article,…

Blogging is a rather immediate endeavor. Over the last nine years (nearly), I’ve lost track of how many times I saw something that I wanted to blog about but but by the time I got around to it was no longer topical. Usually what happens is that my Dug the Dog tendencies take over, as…

Over the years, I’ve not infrequently noted that there is a serious disconnect between what most people would think of as “natural” and what is considered “natural” in the world of “complementary and alternative medicine,” or, as I like to call it, CAMworld. I started thinking about this again after yesterday’s post about Jessica Ainscough’s…

This being Breast Cancer Awareness Month and all, stories about breast cancer are frequently sent my way. This one is depressing and sad, mainly because it’s the story of death from breast cancer. From what I can gather, it is the story of a death from quackery, a death that didn’t have to occur. Even…