Nov 272011
WPA poster warning cancer patients to be wary ...

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Previous reports on Burzynski and his expensive ‘clinical trials’ of a highly dubious therapy have covered: the improbability of the treatment itself; the lack of verifiability of Dr Burzynski’s academical qualifications; the concerns raised by the FDA re the high cost of these ‘trials’ for patients; the fact that these ‘trials’ have now been going on for an impressive 30+ years without any publication; lack of proof of effectiveness of the therapy; some doubts as to the accuracy of the diagnosis of surviving patients; the savage, if badly-written, threatening letters sent by an acolyte to prominent bloggers who dare question Burzynski’s work or credentials… See Ducks are nuthin’ but trouble and Burzynski: piss-poor cancer therapy at a hefty price for further details, along with links to numerous sites supporting Andy Lewis of The Quackometer, and anybody else the seething nutjob who signs “Marc Stephens” should see fit to harass.

Incidentally: Oi! Burzynski! Stephens! BRING IT!


Look, it’s not all a huge joke, a merry lark simply to bait a fat, profitable quack and his minions. Lives are involved. And because this piece of shit (my opinion) markets his ‘trials’ as a cure, he is not only marketing false hope to the incurable, but also implicitly encouraging people to forego conventional therapy. He is fleecing (I’ll expand on that charge in a moment) the vulnerable and naïve, who at the end of the day will be ill-placed to sue him for malpractice/false marketing/whatever as they’ll be either dead or ruined.

Remember, these people are taking part in excessively long-drawn-out ‘clinical trials’ because Burzynski can’t call it a treatment: it’s not legally recognised as such.

Now we are unearthing stories from people who fell for the hype, and it’s not quite as heartwarming reading as the curiously glossy, gushing testimonials on the official site. Take this one, from people who quite clearly feel they were taken for a ride:

The couple in question relate their brief, but incredibly expensive, experience with Burzynski and link to some useful sites: yes, the usual suspects, many of whom you’ll find in the Blogroll to the right. They also link to a few woo sites. I don’t mind juicers, but the detox worries me even if they do state they have no idea if it does any good. It’s the natural, desperate need to try to regain control of a life that’s been confiscated by illness, so I’m not going to rant at them for it.

The next one is another sad case. Possibly even sadder, as the couple involved are heavily into quackery (Gerson diet, reiki, somatic therapy, reincarnation, the list goes on…) and turn up at Burzynski’s clinic in 2010 with heavily metastasized melanoma. So much pain and suffering might have been avoided by the surgical removal of the offending mole when it was detected in 2000. It’s unclear how long was actually spent at the clinic (a month?) and how much it cost, but it would appear the medical staff there had the decency to put him on a better diet and send him home while he was still fit enough to travel. Cynicism also suggests that the clinic would not want to be associated with a patient with a very poor short-term prognosis who may have been beyond the help of the chemotherapy slipped into the ‘clinical trials’:

The colour scheme is terrible and the text very hard to read. The part that really struck me shows just how badly they’d bought into miracle cure promises, to the extent of the wife being deeply shocked by the realisation that he only had a short while left to live (this hadn’t even begun to percolate when they were told he had lesions everywhere; imagine the reality-denial that had been going on for ten years):

If we were deeply involved in treatment plans like the Gerson protocol or the Burzynski Clinic, how could I also embrace that he was dying.

More sorry tales:

Quackery kills. Pass it on.

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  • Kat Arney

    I beg to differ (slightly) – cancer kills. Quackery does nothing to help.

    • anarchic teapot

      Fair enough. What I meant to convey was that relying on quackery instead of real medicine can make it worse, to the extent that you may die of a treatable illness. This year we had two cases of incipient skin cancer in the family: one Bowen’s disease, another in danger of developing melanoma. In both cases, swift removal of the offending mole put an end to the story and we all have regular checkups.

      • Kat Arney

        Exactly – and very sensible.

        This whole business makes me feel sick to my stomach. Cancer is a multitude of complex diseases, and although doctors can now treat many types of it with a lot of success, we’re still floundering in the dark in many cases. I was at the recent NCRI cancer conference and one of the speakers showed some breathtaking pictures of a man covered with metastases from (I think) melanoma – he looked terrible – thin, covered with bumps. After 8 weeks on vemurafenib he looked like a normal healthy person. it was incredible. But after 15 weeks he was back to his old state and passed away. What the hell is going on at a molecular level to make that happen?

        Cancer is an absolute bastard of a disease, and if this saga has taught me anything it’s that we need to put even more effort into understanding all its nefarious forms. I work for Cancer Research UK (and wrote our blog post on Burzynski) and although the charity is the biggest cancer research funder in the UK, I just wish we had the resources to do so much more.

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