The big C (cover-up, that is); Burzynski’s antineoplastons

In The big C (cover-up, that is) (March 2013), WDDTY advocated several unproven and disproven treatments, including Gerson therapy, hyperthermia and Avemar. They irresponsibly suggested that conventional cancer treatments are less useful than doctors claim and implied that alternative therapies could be safer and equally effective.

This is what they had to say about Dr Burzynski’s antineoplastons:

More than 60 clinical trials have been carried out with this alternative therapy pioneered by Dr Stanislaw Burzynski, who works out of a clinic in Houston, Texas. The therapy uses synthetic chemicals called ‘antineoplastons’ – mostly made up of peptides and amino acids – to help the body fight cancer. According to Burzynski, antineoplastons are part of the body’s “natural biochemical defence system” that acts independently of the immune system and protects the body against diseases such as cancer. This means that, according to the theory, cancer patients are depleted in antineoplastons, and the therapy involves a course of injections or tablets of antineoplastons, taken from human blood and urine, to restore their levels.

People who want the therapy can do so only as a participant in one of Burzynski’s clinical trials, which are restricted to cancer sufferers whose tumours continue to grow despite conventional treatment.

Burzynski claims to have successfully treated more than 8,000 people with cancer, but detractors say his trials have never been successfully repeated by doctors not associated with his clinic. Nonetheless, results have been impressive, including one trial of 21 patients, of whom four had a “complete tumour response” – indicating that the tumour had shrunk and completely disappeared – while four had partial tumour responses (the tumours had shrunk by more than half); in six participants who were still taking the treatment, their cancer continued to regress but had not yet reached the stage of complete remission at the time of the report (Physiol Chem Phys 1977,9: 485-500).

In another trial of 14 men with prostate cancer, 13 of whom had tumours at stage IV, two achieved complete remission and three had partial remission, while the cancer had stabilized in seven of the participants and progressed in just two cases.

All the men were still alive two years after the trial had ended. (Drugs Exp Clin Res, 1990; 16: 361 – 9).

More than sixty clinical trials have been indeed been registered, but no results have been reported. Since 1997, Burzynski has only been able to administer “antineoplastons” under registered clinical trials, following a consent decree in a court case. The trials were closed to new participants earlier this year following the third successive adverse review of the clinic’s Institutional Review Board. Burzynski continues to offer “personalised gene-targeted cancer therapy” and the antineoplaston pro-drug phenylbutyrate, all these treatments are off-label chemotherapies.

Further reading:

Why don’t doctors tell you that Stanislaw Burzynski can cure cancer with his antineoplaston treatment?

Because there’s no good evidence this is true.

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