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612 thoughts on “Death by “alternative” medicine: Who’s to blame?

  1. Harriet Hall says:

    pec said, “Harriet, why do you think there are experts who say medical science has made very little progress with most forms of cancer?”

    They are not really talking about the overall progress; they are not comparing cancer treatment in 2008 to cancer treatment in 1808. They are fixating on what they perceive as not enough further progress after, say, 1970. They are comparing actual progress to the ideal of a cure for all cancers. They are talking about the fact that the prognosis for some cancers like pancreatic cancer is still poor while ignoring the many other cancers that can be cured. They are talking about their personal interpretation of recent statistics that others interpret quite differently. They are ignoring what Dr. Gorski pointed out: that improvements in treatment may improve the life of cancer patients even when they don’t improve survival.

    You can find experts who say almost anything, experts who disagree with each other, experts who are biased, and experts who are just plain wrong. That’s why we don’t blindly follow authorities. I’m wondering why you would choose to accept the word of those particular experts.

    I am confident that even those experts who say science has made “very little progress” would readily admit that modern cancer treatment as a whole is far superior to no treatment or to the treatment available in 1800.

  2. pec says:

    “you can find experts who say almost anything, experts who disagree with each other, experts who are biased, and experts who are just plain wrong. That’s why we don’t blindly follow authorities.”

    Harriet, it was you who told me I was not qualified to question Dr. Gorski because he is such a great expert.

    So, I should have blind faith in certain experts but I should doubt others? Since I am not qualified to think about these things, according to you, I must have blind faith in someone. But who? Only those who make a good profit working in the cancer industry?

  3. pec says:

    “She said the true effect of treatment for the patient in question could be anywhere from 0 to 93%. Could any rational person really think that it could be 0% or even 10%?”

    It could very well be more than 10%. It could be more than 20%, or more than 30%, more than 80%. Who knows? We don’t seem to have any reliable way of finding that out.

    The changes in mortality for most types of cancer from 1970 to now are not very great. Your assumption is that terrific treatments were already in use by 1970, and very little improvement was made after that.

    But we don’t seem to have reliable data to support your beliefs, which appear to be based mostly on faith in mainstream medicine.

  4. pec says:

    “modern cancer treatment as a whole is far superior to no treatment or to the treatment available in 1800.”

    Surgical technology is much better now. Whether surgery is generally the best approach for cancer is debatable. But if a patient is going to have surgery, it’s better to have it now than in 1800.

  5. Fifi says:

    pec – I already explained the difference between trust and faith. Blind faith, whether it be in subluxations or a doctor, is foolish. You’ve already shown you have blind faith in subluxations. Blind cynicism is equally as foolish. Clearly you have a very cynical prejudice against Dr Gorski and have blind faith in anyone who you think is saying what you want to hear (though, as it’s been pointed out, you’re hearing something that isn’t actually being said because that’s what you want to hear). I’d assume that the doctors who did the study you believe supports your position (but doesn’t) also “make a good profit working in the cancer industry” but you don’t question their integrity because you, mistakenly, believe that their abstract supports your position.

    Apparently you’re not qualified to UNDERSTAND what’s being discussed based upon the evidence of your misunderstanding, that doesn’t mean you can’t think about things you don’t understand but it does mean that your opinions are pretty worthless because you don’t know what you’re talking about. But, I thank you for your persistence because everyone’s patient explaining to you over and over again has given me much more insight into cancer than I would have had otherwise, which is the reason I visit this blog in the first place. Apparently your reasons for being here are more obtuse and have little to do with learning or understanding.

  6. Harriet Hall says:

    pec said, “Harriet, it was you who told me I was not qualified to question Dr. Gorski because he is such a great expert.”

    You are distorting my words. I told you Dr. Gorski has a great deal more knowledge than either you or I. You asked if you should believe him and stop thinking. I told you you should not follow his authority but think for yourself even harder and try to fully understand what he says and why he says it. Once you have done that, if you present convincing evidence that he is wrong, you will have as much credibility as he does.

    Right now we don’t know what your credibility is – it might be 93% or it might be 0%. :-)

  7. Harriet Hall says:

    pec said, “Whether surgery is generally the best approach for cancer is debatable.”

    In some cases it may not be the best approach. In certain types and stages of cancer it is clearly the best approach, and that is not at all debatable. In other cases a combination of surgery and other treatments is preferable; and that is not debatable either. There are thousands of studies comparing different methods of treatment for specific types and stages of cancer.

    Can you seriously think that it was “debatable” whether the patient in Dr. Gorski’s example should have had surgery?

    I suppose next you’ll be saying it’s “debatable” whether patients with bacterial pneumonia should take antibiotics. After all, some of them would have survived without treatment; and antibiotics can cause serious side effects; and we can’t ethically do studies of pneumonia with a no treatment arm. There is a bias because we can’t assume all the treatment successes were really due to the antibiotics. Are we lying to patients when we tell them there is a 93% cure rate with a given antibiotic? We really don’t know. It might be anywhere from 0% to 93%. :-)

    I think you’re capable of “debating” anything.

  8. weing says:

    Harriet,
    I don’t think it’s debating but mental onanization.

  9. David Gorski says:

    Harriet, it was you who told me I was not qualified to question Dr. Gorski because he is such a great expert.

    No, you have been told you’re not qualified because (1) the content of your comments is incontrovertible evidence that you do not know what you’re talking about and (2) because your obtuse repetition of the same talking points over and over and over again after I and many others more patient than I have explained your errors again and again demonstrates that, at least right now, you are uneducable on this issue.

  10. pec says:

    I repeated the question because it never was answered. You said treatment can’t be compared to no treatment for ethical reasons. You don’t know how your treatment would compare to any of the alternate treatments, or whether this patient would have done better with yours.

    When a patient has a potentially deadly disease it makes sense to try something that you feel is likely to help, even if you do not have objective evidence that it will. In your experience you probably have seen many similar patients who survived. However, you cannot tell how many would have survived without your treatment, because you cannot easily predict which tumors will become aggressive.

    Maybe this patient had a form of cancer that was going to become aggressive no matter what. Your assumption is that she would have been fine with mainstream treatment, but will die because she chose an alternative. Maybe that’s true, or maybe it isn’t. My point is that cancer is not well enough understood for you to make that assumption.

    Your post was intended to convince people that alternative medicine can be lethal. However because of the limited current understanding of cancer and because of the well-known sources of bias, your certainty is unwarranted. I feel that your motivation is more political/ideological than scientific.

    As I keep saying, I am not promoting any alternative cancer treatments. But you do not have good evidence that mainstream treatments are generally superior, since comparisons have not been made. And since mainstream results have barely improved in decades, maybe the general approach should be modified in some way.

  11. Fifi says:

    Ahhhh, so pec thinks it’s “debatable” whether arsenic is poisonous now. I wonder if she has enough faith in her beliefs to try that one out on herself…. or if she just wants other people to use these “alternative” cancer treatments. Who knows, she’s been avoiding telling us what she’d do if she was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer. Would she do nothing because she believes that doctors are lying about cancer? Would she choose to try alternatives as the woman above did? Would pec even go to get tested if she felt a strange lump in her breast? Does pec even do a regular breast self exam? Would pec even know she had cancer until it had progressed to the stage of the woman above?

  12. David Gorski says:

    Maybe this patient had a form of cancer that was going to become aggressive no matter what. Your assumption is that she would have been fine with mainstream treatment, but will die because she chose an alternative. Maybe that’s true, or maybe it isn’t

    No, it is true to a high degree of certainty. You can play the old “argument from ignorance” or “argument from uncertainty” logical fallacy game all you like, but it’s just obfuscation.

  13. otr6686 says:

    “AMA” responded to me in this way:
    >>So you are on a suicide trip and want to spend 150000 bucks for it?

    >You can have you death cheaper: just jump from a skyscraper!

    My point was that everyone whom I have ever known who died of cancer had treatment with chemotherapy.

    Am I saying that chemo causes cancer? Of course not, but it does not save lives. It should be labeled as quackery also.
    The majority of people posting here are quick to label things they do not know about as quackery. I know about chemo, and it is quackery, sanctioned by the pharmaceutical companies. Physicians, try going against them, and you will see how long it takes for you to be blackballed.

  14. weing says:

    Everyone, whom I have ever known that died, was breathing before dying. Breathing is quackery, If you never breathed, you will not die.

  15. weing says:

    I know plenty of people who have died from cancer that never had chemotherapy.

  16. Diane Henry says:

    otr6686–

    You can also say that most people who have survived cancer had chemotherapy.

  17. daedalus2u says:

    I think that pec is not worried about getting cancer because she has already attained the status of Clear and is on her way to becoming an Operating Thetan.

  18. BrianTani says:

    Harriet Hall said:

    I suppose next you’ll be saying it’s “debatable” whether patients with bacterial pneumonia should take antibiotics. After all, some of them would have survived without treatment; and antibiotics can cause serious side effects; and we can’t ethically do studies of pneumonia with a no treatment arm. There is a bias because we can’t assume all the treatment successes were really due to the antibiotics. Are we lying to patients when we tell them there is a 93% cure rate with a given antibiotic? We really don’t know. It might be anywhere from 0% to 93%. :-)

    I know it was a sarcastic comment an all, but I’ve been debating another person in an online community forum that thinks just that. He thinks that vaccinations are just stressors no different from the disease itself, and that people just need good[sic] nutrition (He has some wild ideas about foods too).

    It is frustrating, but in the process I learned a lot. This blog actually helped me in understanding what he was talking about and how dangerous it all was. Kimball’s article – in special – here and on other sites about Naturopathy made me understand things beyond the apparent “nice guy talk”, and “I’m here just asking questions” thing.

    I’m not comparing that person to pec because I think she would also find this guy I was discussing with completely bonkers.

    I stopped discussing with that guy after he started tauting me about a bet. He would inject HIV+ blood in himself, or catch TB on purpose, and he would show that his Pranayama and rigorous nutrition alone would make him immune to those diseases. It serves as a constant reminder that there are people that believe in strange things… it’s like a generalization of Poe’s law. And to add a little information that person is a Hindu Naturopath in training.

  19. pec says:

    Fifi,

    You seem quite obsessed with the idea of me getting cancer, which shows just how malicious you are. I know I promised not to respond to your malice and stupidity any more. But I just want you to understand I have noticed just how full of rage you must be. Probably because of an unhappy childhood, resulting in severe mental illness and retardation. Maybe some radical surgery and toxic chemo would help. It’s worth a try.

  20. pec says:

    I believe the mainstream approach to cancer may be wrong, at least for certain types of cancer. Attacking cancer cells as if they were analogous to a bacterial infection may be reasonable in some cases but not in others. I think that cancer cells are sometimes a symptom of a more general disorder. That could be why cancer sometimes recurs after surgery and chemotherapy — the general disorder has not been treated.

    In other cases cancer might actually be the disease and eradication of the tumor (if localized) could result in a complete cure. But all cancer is approached in this way by mainstream medicine.

    Alternative medicine is more likely to be holistic — in other words, a larger context is considered, rather than focusing only on the cancer cells.

    I do not know of any alternative cancer cures, have never been a health practitioner, am not selling anything (I have to keep saying that over and over). I am only suggesting that medical researchers consider that cancer cells might sometimes be a symptom of a more general syndrome.

    I am skeptical about mainstream cancer treatments because I do not necessarily agree with the reductionist approach (in some cases it is the best approach, but in many others it may not be), and also because the evidence shows that cancer is not nearly as curable as the public has been led to believe.

  21. Fifi says:

    pec, I think it would be very unfortunate if you got cancer, I’m just curious as to what you’d do IF you were diagnosed with cancer. Even Hermano who who seems to share quite a few of your views and who has offered you his support is curious about this, as are many others. I actually think it would be very unfortunate if you did have cancerous growth because I suspect you’d either never get it diagnosed because of your fear of doctors and you’d ultimately follow a similar course of action as the woman in the case above and it would lead to an unnecessarily early death. Just because I think you have some kind of obsession with doctors and medicine, and some misguided beliefs in subluxations and the like, doesn’t mean I’d wish or want you dead. I suspect you may be projecting your own desires onto others. One reason I think blogs like this are so important is exactly because of people like the woman in the case above and yourself.

  22. pmoran says:

    >“She said the true effect of treatment for the patient in question could be anywhere from 0 to 93%. Could any rational person really think that it could be 0% or even 10%?”

    Pec> It could very well be more than 10%. It could be more than 20%, or more than 30%, more than 80%. Who knows? We don’t seem to have any reliable way of finding that out.

    Pec, I am still trying to understand you. There may be others who think the same.

    Have you missed the point that the 90%+ figure for twenty year survival with early breast cancer refers to the percentage of patients who are not only alive twenty years after treatment, but who are also CANCER-FREE.

    How do you think that patients get to be cancer-free without a “true effect” from the treatment? The spontaneous remission rate for symptomatic breast cancer is known to be tiny.

  23. Harriet Hall says:

    pec says,

    “I am skeptical about mainstream cancer treatments because I do not necessarily agree with the reductionist approach.”

    I think this is the key to our frustration with pec: she is not operating in the same world view we are. She espouses a philosophy, similar to a religion, that posits non-material entities and unmeasurable energies. She thinks some vague “holistic” approach is philosophically preferable to science, which she sees as having a materialist and reductionist philosophy.

    Science is not a philosophy or a belief, it is just a practical method of figuring out how the world works, a method that has demonstrated its worth and its ability to predict. I don’t know of any better method. Apparently pec thinks she does.

    pec refuses to understand when I tell her that science doesn’t follow any philosophy. She can’t show any evidence that her non-material, non-reductionist world view has ever led to any real progress or verifiable knowledge. She can’t offer any way to test her world view or her claims.

    We are speaking the language of science; pec is speaking the language of philosophy. No wonder we can’t communicate.

  24. Fifi says:

    What pec fails to understand is that medicine does treat cancer in a holistic way. Apart from the obvious advise that the medical community gives in terms of prevention, not to mention the research that’s also gone into lifestyle aspects of cancer expression, there’s also the research into the biological and psychological impact of support groups who help people cope with the emotional aspects of cancer. That seems to cover body, mind and soul (if we consider our emotions to be what we’re talking about when we say “soul”).

    It doesn’t sound to me as if any of these alternatives to medicine actually cover all three, certainly in terms of body there’s some failings.

  25. Harriet Hall says:

    Our definition of holistic is treating the whole patient, considering “real” factors like lifestyle, psychology, family, socioeconomic status, cultural background, etc.

    pec’s definition of holistic is not limited to “real” factors; it includes factors that most of us think are imaginary. If they are not imaginary, at least there is no evidence that they exist, and pec has not told us how we could find out whether they exist.

    In 1925, Francis Peabody said, “the secret of the care of the patient is in caring for the patient” and that idea is central to good medicine. All good clinicians are “holistic.”

    By the way, the idea that science hasn’t considered “that cancer cells might sometimes be a symptom of a more general syndrome” is a ridiculous straw man argument. Science is working hard to understand what factors allow cancer cells to develop and what factors allow them to escape detection, to multiply, to invade, and to kill.

  26. Fifi says:

    Harriet, exactly. I just thought it was worth pointing out that the claims pec was making about medicine not being holistic and alternatives to medicine being holistic are false if one considers (and understands) the meaning of the word.

    When I use the word “soul” I’m using it to speak about people’s emotional life, the “soulful” aspect of our life (to me this covers everything from personal emotions to cultural aspects of who one is). I don’t see it as being something supernatural.

  27. pec says:

    “Have you missed the point that the 90%+ figure for twenty year survival with early breast cancer refers to the percentage of patients who are not only alive twenty years after treatment, but who are also CANCER-FREE.”

    No, I haven’t. But you have missed the point about over-diagnosis. Even Dr. Gorski has written that most early cancer would never progress to cause symptoms or death, even with no treatment at all.

    So if 90% of treated patients survive 20 years, you would have to subtract the percentage that would have survived 20 years without treatment, in order to find the actual cure rate.

    We do not know what percentage would have survived anyway, because most patients are treated. But we do have some evidence from autopsies showing very high rates of some cancers in people who died from another disease or old age.

    This shows that cancer cells do not necessarily cause disease. Eradicating early cancer with surgery, chemo, etc., does not always make a practical difference.

    This does NOT mean the standard treatments are worthless. It means we do not really know their worth.

    How do you think that patients get to be cancer-free without a “true effect” from the treatment? The spontaneous remission rate for symptomatic breast cancer is known to be tiny.”

    You can’t really know that, since most patients are treated. And, as I said, it is well known that cancer cells do not necessarily cause disease or death.

  28. weing says:

    pec,
    You are mixing up prostate cancer in the elderly with breast cancer in a young woman. Two totally different animals. Lead time bias does not apply in the case of a palpable tumor. I mean, what are you waiting for? Metastases to show up before you say it’s a cancer that will progress? I’m sorry, but no matter how much you dislike Dr Gorski for being an arrogant surgeon, but the statistics that he gives you are correct.
    You say cancer is a symptom of another disorder. Yeah, we know that. Several in fact. Once we understand the mechanisms and can interfere with them, it will be the ultimate cancer prevention.

  29. pec says:

    “You are mixing up prostate cancer in the elderly with breast cancer in a young woman.”

    No, what I said is true of many other cancers besides prostate cancer. You have not read about over-diagnosis. Even Dr. Gorski has written about it.

    And I have no personal feelings against Dr. Gorski. This is a scientific debate.

    You can’t possibly know if his statistics are correct, since even he admitted it is not possible to know.

  30. weing says:

    You are still mixing them up.

  31. Harriet Hall says:

    pec said, “You can’t possibly know if his statistics are correct, since even he admitted it is not possible to know.”

    You are misquoting Dr. Gorski. What he really said was, “No, it is true to a high degree of certainty.”

    Apparently pec wants 100% certainty and exact numbers and absolute answers. Those don’t exist in science.

    A high degree of certainty is the best we ever get. It’s plenty good enough for most purposes. It got us to the Moon.

  32. Harriet Hall says:

    pec,

    You didn’t respond to my analogy about antibiotics for pneumonia: some patients would survive without treatment; there is a bias because we can’t assume all the treatment successes were really due to the antibiotics. We can’t do a study with a no-treatment arm; we have only historical data, and past diagnoses might not be accurate, and we are diagnosing more pneumonia today because of better technology. Are we lying to patients when we tell them there is a 93% cure rate with a given antibiotic? We really don’t know. According to your reasoning, it might be anywhere from 0% to 93%.

    And you didn’t answer my question: “Would it satisfy you if the doctors told the patient that the survival rate with treatment was 93% and that they didn’t have exact numbers for the survival rate without treatment but that it was much, much lower?”

  33. David Gorski says:

    Even Dr. Gorski has written that most early cancer would never progress to cause symptoms or death, even with no treatment at all.

    I’ve written no such thing, at least not as an over-arching statement that applies to all cancer. If that’s the message you got out of my posts, you clearly did not understand. Moreover, in this context, when we talk about “early” cancer, we mean really early cancer, as in clusters of cancerous cells, usually cells that have not yet invaded. We are not referring to a 1 cm invasive tumor.

    Why is the difference so hard for you to understand?

  34. pmoran says:

    Pec, medicine is complicated and every word can be important to the meaning. I clearly specified “symptomatic” breast cancer.

    Dr Gorski was referring to an apparent small excess of tiny cancers found only when screening very large populations of patients. We suspect from the available statistics that some of these may never progress during the lifetime of the patient, but so far as we know none of these ever go away without treatment, either.

  35. pec says:

    “when we talk about “early” cancer, we mean really early cancer, as in clusters of cancerous cells, usually cells that have not yet invaded. We are not referring to a 1 cm invasive tumor.”

    A lot has been written about over-diagnosis and it might be more of a problem than you realize Even cancers defined as invasive might never cause disease.

    Over-diagnosis can have adverse practical consequences, since the standard treatments can damage health and shorten life. But I am talking about the statistical problems that result from counting over-diagnosed cases as successfully treated.

    When I get a chance I will link to articles that explain it well. It’s obvious no one here has read any of them.

    It is impossible to know how many patients are over-diagnosed and assumed to be cured when they never were sick. It is only possible to estimate, and there are different approaches to estimating.

  36. pec says:

    “An overview of seven autopsy studies documents a median prevalence of 1.3% for invasive Breast Cancer (range, 0%-1.8%) and 8.9% for ductal carcinoma in situ (range, 0%-14.7%).[15,16] Detection and treatment of these lesions constitute overdiagnosis and do not confer any benefit to the patient. It is currently impossible to distinguish with certainty the cancers that will progress from those that will not.”

    http://breast-cancer.kb120.com/Breast-Cancer-Screening—Harms-of-Screening_3.html

  37. Gail Perry says:

    If those very small precancerous conditions were found in autopsy, then those people weren’t over-diagnosed, were they?

    Having cancer that undoubtedly started out that way and then progressed I wish I had been “over-treated” at an earlier stage.

    Breast cancer is nothing to play Russian roulette with. What a great joy it will be when we can always find it before it becomes dangerous and remove it, being certain that that person will live a long and productive life free of breast cancer.

  38. Michelle B says:

    Fifi wrote: pec, I think it would be very unfortunate if you got cancer, I’m just curious as to what you’d do IF you were diagnosed with cancer.
    _____

    And she still has not answered that question. If one will extrapolate from the advice that she said she would give to others who had cancer, then following her own advice,Pec would read and think about the problem. Unfortunately, because she is the patient this time, she will need to stop the reading and thinking eventually and act. And the passivity of Pec’s mental onanization (per Weing’s comment) is what is concerning, that she will not act and just rot in place.

    It is telling that Pec has showed the most emotion when responding finally to Fifi’s valiant and compassionate attempts to have Pec identify and state the implications of her mental meandering to HERSELF. Other than that comment of Pec suggesting that Fifi try chemo and surgery to solve the problem of Fifi’s so-called vicious anger (all I can see is Fifi’s compassion and interest), Pec’s tone is one of practically comatose blandness. I think it’s good that Pec is showing emotion.

    Of course, Fifi would only use chemo and surgery to combat cancer, not to treat anything else. It is very hard for Pec to grasp this aspect: specific treatment tailored for the individual and their disease. Her security blanket is tightly wrapped around the nature-knows-best/universal-size-fits-all pacifer/dummy (for you British readers).

    Harriet is trying to gently peel off that security blanket (Kudos, Harriet, you have taught me a lot in the process!) and seems to have come to the conclusion that the security blanket is not able to come off. I would agree. Hopefully, Pec will continue to read posts here and comment. Who knows, maybe that security blanket will start to feel unnecessarily heavy and not so comforting after all.

  39. Fifi says:

    pec – So why do you trust articles on a Chinese website that’s tagline is “BKB120.com – Give you happy and healthy life”. Apparently they’re promising to live you long time! Why do you trust these people’s interpretation? There’s no indication that anyone writing the articles knows anything about medicine or statistics, and the “about” page just takes one to more advertisements in Chinese and tells you nothing about who’s writing the articles or running the site! It seems you’ll trust anyone who tells you want you want to hear! That is the very definition of confirmation bias! Considering that the Chinese are some of the biggest manufacturers for ingredients for supplements and are constantly being caught for doing so in incredibly unsanitary conditions (and environments that exploit workers and put them in danger). It’s such a problem that even the usually very face-saving Chinese government has had to admit it! Of course, that didn’t happen until after lead and plastics and so on had been found to be accidentally (and sometimes intentionally!) finding their way into foods and had killed quite a few pets in North America and made some people in Canada got quite sick from taking Chinese medicines!

  40. pec says:

    There are many thousands of websites and articles saying the same kind of thing. I linked the first one I found, since I only had a minute. If you want mainstream medical articles on the subject of over diagnosis, there are plenty.

    It’s pretty darned silly to distrust a website merely because it’s Chinese, but then Fifi is pretty darned silly.

  41. Harriet Hall says:

    pec said,

    “An overview of seven autopsy studies documents a median prevalence of 1.3% for invasive Breast Cancer (range, 0%-1.8%) and 8.9% for ductal carcinoma in situ (range, 0%-14.7%).”

    The fact that these were found only on autopsy means that they were not diagnosed during life and I’m guessing they were mostly so small they would not have been diagnosed by current diagnostic methods. These numbers don’t tell us anything about overdiagnosis or about whether these lesions would have progressed if the patient hadn’t already died of other causes.

    pec said, “I am talking about the statistical problems that result from counting over-diagnosed cases as successfully treated. When I get a chance I will link to articles that explain it well. It’s obvious no one here has read any of them.”

    Please don’t bother with those links. It’s obvious to everyone else that we not only have read about it, acknowledged it, and discussed it, but that Dr. Gorski was the one who brought the subject up in the first place. We all agree that overdiagnosis and early diagnosis make the survival rate look higher. We are not disagreeing with you about that. We are disagreeing about how to weigh that fact in deciding how to treat.

    We get it, pec. We all get it. You still haven’t answered my question: “Would it satisfy you if the doctors told the patient that the survival rate with treatment was 93% and that they didn’t have exact numbers for the survival rate without treatment but that it was much, much lower?”

  42. Fifi says:

    pec – No, the reason not to trust the website is because there’s no transparency regarding who wrote the articles or who runs the website. Since the site seems to be based in China, a country thats government keeps a very tight rein and heavily controls what is and isn’t allowed online, and involves itself heavily in propaganda and international image control – and there have been some very big scandals involving supplement and food manufacturers in China – putting this site in context is important. Or don’t you endorse a holistic perspective on information and communication? Or is that only relevant to you when it doesn’t confirm your bias?

  43. pec says:

    “Would it satisfy you if the doctors told the patient that the survival rate with treatment was 93% and that they didn’t have exact numbers for the survival rate without treatment but that it was much, much lower?”

    We do not know that it’s much much lower. We don’t know how much lower it might be. That is my point.

    It is so easy to mislead the public by claiming success rates like 93% without even mentioning that the no-treatment survival rates are unknown, and difficult to even estimate.

    If I had not objected to Dr. Gorski’s claim of 93%, everyone here would have accepted it happily and without question.

    And that is what has been going on. We see these inaccurate and overly optimistic claims all the time, and most people do not question them. Most people are not in the habit of thinking about statistics, so they don’t realize how easy it is to mislead with numbers.

    And I think Americans might pay more attention to their lifestyle if they realized the safety and effectiveness of mainstream cancer treatments is not really known.

  44. pmoran says:

    “Approximations of the magnitude of the problem of overdiagnosis range from 10% to 30% of newly diagnosed Breast Cancer cases, depending on utilization and intensity of screening.[23,24]”

    Pec, why did you not quote the above, from the source you supplied? ( http://breast-cancer.kb120.com/Breast-Cancer-Screening—Harms-of-Screening_3.html )
    It would seem to supply the kind of information you keep stating is not available.

    Of course, the true rate of overdiagnosis of pregressive cancer would be much lower in normal surgical practice, where many of the cancers are still found by women as a newly developed lump, even among women already involved in screening.

    The rate will also presumably be lower in younger populations, so that autopsy rates for undiagnosed cancers will also exaggerate the influence of non-progressive cancers on cure rates over a twenty year time frame. Many of the cancers found at autopsy will be obvious cancers that were simply missed during life in a rarely screened aged population. They would be deadly in longer-living patients.

    I hope you grasp the fact that much of this is mainly of relevance to how we screen patients and what we do when we find tiny abnormalities on screening (many tiny lesions are simply reassessed at six monthly intervals looking for changes suggesting a progressive lesion). It can have no influence on what we advise to a person with a biopsy diagnosis of invasive breast cancer. Do you agree?

  45. Fifi says:

    pec – You’ve expressed already that you think doctors and medicine should be in the business of scaring and blackmailing people into making healthier lifestyle choices. That seems highly fascistic to me – like playing god with people’s lives – not to mention unethical. How do you square this logically with your belief that doctors want to be gods? Are you sure it’s not you who wants doctors to be omniscient and omnipotent gods?

  46. otr6686 says:

    WEING, in responding to me and pretending to use valid principles of logic which would only convince the uninitiated, wrote:

    “Everyone, whom I have ever known that died, was breathing before dying. Breathing is quackery, If you never breathed, you will not die.”

    Shame on you for that cheap shot! I cannot believe that you really missed my point. The reason your “logic” does not hold up is that breathing is not touted as a modality to manage cancer; chemotherapy is.

  47. Fifi says:

    otr – Actually, breathing is touted as a means to manage and prevent cancer. Pec routinely promotes yoga for this purpose, as do many in the yoga industry. Shame on you for not even knowing what you’re advocating in terms of “alternative modalities to medicine”!

  48. Joe says:

    Fifi wrote “Zing!”

    May I add- Otr, of course people die after receiving chemotherapy. The point you need to realize is that many also experience long term survival, one may call it a cure, after chemotherapy; it depends on the type and stage of the cancer.*

    When you are short on facts, and logic, you should limit yourself to asking questions.

    *I will dare to put words in Dr. Gorski’s mouth and say he would tell you the same is true for surgical treatment of some cancers.

  49. Harriet Hall says:

    pec,

    So do you think the patient with the 1 cm cancer should have been told “The 5 year survival rate with treatment is 93% and we have no idea whatsoever what the survival rate is without treatment?” Do you think a patient with pneumonia should be told there is a 93% cure rate with antibiotic X but we have no idea whatsoever what the cure rate is with no treatment?

    I’m curious. I really am. What do you think doctors should tell patients?

  50. pec says:

    “It was explained to her that a less than 1 cm tumor with no evidence of spread to the lymph nodes carried a highly favorable prognosis, with upwards of 93% long term survival with proper surgery and radiation therapy combined with adjuvant chemotherapy and/or hormonal therapy.”

    Exactly my point. Early cancer is considered highly curable, but this is partly just an illusion caused by the incorrect assumption that every small tumor is likely to grow and spread and cause disease and death, if untreated.

    93% sounds very good! But maybe it’s more like 50% or 60%. We don’t know, and we don’t really care as long as we can say 93%.

    And we don’t know the success rates of various alternative treatments, since most have not been formally studied, so we can say with great certainty that they are all complete failures.

    We can say what we like to say, and what people like to hear. And then we can all feel good, and Fifi won’t be scared.

  51. pec says:

    Harriet,

    Bacterial infections and antibiotic treatments are understood much better than cancer. You know that, and there is no point pretending they are comparable.

  52. Harriet Hall says:

    pec said,

    “If I had not objected to Dr. Gorski’s claim of 93%, everyone here would have accepted it happily and without question.”

    Wait a minute! That claim was true! The survival rate for treated patients IS 93%. That is documented. You can’t question that. What you are questioning is only how much of that survival rate is actually due to the treatment.

    We have given you the best estimates of people who deal with this stuff on a daily basis and have read ALL the pertinent medical literature and who FULLY understand the biases of early diagnosis and overdiagnosis. You don’t accept those estimates but you don’t offer any better ones. The very source you cited estimated the effect of overdiagnosis at 10-30% but you didn’t even offer that. (Not that it applies to the patient with the 1 cm lesion).

    You just keep pretending we don’t think biases exist after we have told you we do. You keep deliberately misunderstanding us. You remind me of a little kid who keeps asking “why” or saying “I don’t wanna” just to aggravate the adults. It gets very tiresome.

  53. Harriet Hall says:

    pec said,

    “Bacterial infections and antibiotic treatments are understood much better than cancer. You know that, and there is no point pretending they are comparable.”

    The principle is the same. We can’t tell the patient what the cure rate is with no treatment, since all we have are historical data and since diagnostic methods are different today. Answer my question: What would you tell the patient?

  54. Harriet Hall says:

    pec said,

    “93% sounds very good! But maybe it’s more like 50% or 60%. We don’t know, and we don’t really care as long as we can say 93%.
    And we don’t know the success rates of various alternative treatments, since most have not been formally studied, so we can say with great certainty that they are all complete failures.”

    Can’t we say with considerable certainty that the treatment is better than no treatment? Can’t we say that we have credible evidence for the survival rates with this treatment and we have no credible evidence for survival rates with the various alternative treatments? Of course we can’t say they are all complete failures! They haven’t been tested.

  55. Fifi says:

    pec, why do you believe I’m scared of cancer? Are you sure you’re not projecting your own fears onto me? Really, being afraid of the unknown serves no useful purpose and it’s a very limiting way to live one’s life. Earlier in this thread you said you felt people should be MORE afraid of cancer! However, if I was afraid, wouldn’t this be just how you believe I should feel? If you believe others should feel more scared of cancer, how do YOU feel? Aren’t you afraid? If not, why do you feel others should be? I’ve been advocating a calm and reasoned, evidence based approach to both prevention and treatment. Wouldn’t it make you happy if you’d convinced me that I should be afraid of cancer since that is your stated goal in disputing the evidence for surgery and chemotherapy?

    My personal philosophy involves embracing the moment and living my life in a way I enjoy. You just never know when you’ll be hit by a bus or keel over dead. I don’t exercise and eat a healthy diet because I’m afraid of cancer, old age or death, I do it because it makes me feel better in the present and I just enjoy eating well and physical activity with friends. What motives you to eat a healthy diet and to exercise?

  56. Fifi says:

    pec – And why would you want people to be more scared of cancer if you believe that most cancers aren’t even dangerous or likely to progress?

  57. pmoran says:

    There is actually considerable information about the success rates, or rather lack thereof, of “alternative” cancer treatments, providing a consistent pattern of inflated claims that do not stand up when put to the test. Giving them the benefit of the doubt merely encourages fraud and quackery.

    http://caonline.amcancersoc.org/cgi/content/full/54/2/110

    The same applies when you examine data supplied by the promoters –

    http://www.users.on.net/~pmoran/cancer/Alternative_studies.htm

    – I am prepared to look at any method that can produce a few contemporary cases of unmistakable cancer remission in common types of established, invasive cancer. None of them can satisfy even this modest challenge..

  58. weing says:

    otr,
    I did not refer to breathing as a modality for treating cancer. It’s a modality for preventing death. It is obviously faulty logic, just like yours. That was the point.

  59. weing says:

    pec,
    Are you saying that we are not aware of lead time bias? We are.
    Are you saying that we are equating DCIS and other preclinical lesions with with T1N0M0 cancer of breast? We are not. Are you saying Dr. Gorski is lying or is wrong about current medical treatment resulting in 93% long term survival in T1N0M0 breast cancer? Do you have data to back that up? Are you possibly lumping alternative treatments, as in this patient, with EBM to give lower survival rates for current therapy?

  60. otr6686 says:

    Fifi writes:”Shame on you for not even knowing what you’re advocating in terms of “alternative modalities to medicine”!”

    Yes, shame on me because I know nothing about Yoga in the cure of cancer. And yes, Joe, I am not an oncologist, so I know very little about traditional therapy, except that it doesn’t work for very long.

    For the past 25 years, I have worked and been associated with the finest alternative immunotherapists abroad. They are harassed in the United States so they do not practice here. They cure cancer. They do not just offer remission for five years. I have seen many patients cured after their traditional physicians have staged them as terminal.

    I do not know the qualifications of Fifi, Joe (who is so sure that I know nothing that I should ask questions only of you great gurus) and Weing. If you are oncologists, then I am not surprised that your methods are to insult those who disagree with you. It is no wonder that, under your treatments, cancer survival has been pathetically low in the United States, for the past 50 years.

  61. HCN says:

    otr6686 said ” They cure cancer. They do not just offer remission for five years. I have seen many patients cured after their traditional physicians have staged them as terminal.”

    Then all they need is some evidence, and they might be eligible for the Nobel for Medicine. Where is that evidence, or do we just have to believe it because you said so?

  62. pec says:

    “That claim was true! The survival rate for treated patients IS 93%. That is documented. You can’t question that. What you are questioning is only how much of that survival rate is actually due to the treatment.”

    Yes of course. It’s the kind of deception that fools most people.

    I think we have a much better understanding of which bacterial infections require antibiotics, and which would be resolved without treatment. Of course it has been common for MDs to prescribe antibiotics unnecessarily and we now realize that can be harmful.

    Maybe cancer research will lead to a better understanding of which cancers are likely to progress.

    I think that when cancer is a symptom of a more general disorder, it will recur in spite of the standard treatments. So I think the standard treatments work best when they aren’t needed, for cancers that would never have caused disease.

    Another confounding factor is that the standard treatments may increase mortality from other causes, therefore lowering the cancer mortality rate for treated patients.

    Since I don’t believe cancer occurs just by accident, at least not usually or always, I question the idea that eradicating cancer cells cures the disease.

    When cancer is local, and when it did occur by accident and is not just a symptom, then maybe eradicating the cells does cure a disease that would have progressed.

    I don’t think anyone really knows the answers to these questions.

  63. weing says:

    otr,
    Define cure. Does the patient not returning for more treatments mean they are cured? Could it be they are dead? I am sorry if you felt insulted when I pointed out the flaws in your logic. You reminded me of the Hollywood actress that couldn’t believe Reagan won the election as no one she knew voted for him.

  64. V says:

    “Since I don’t believe cancer occurs just by accident, at least not usually or always, I question the idea that eradicating cancer cells cures the disease.”

    So you think that removing a tumor by surgery does not lead to remission. I also infer that you believe that a mutation in a gene, which may have various environmental causes, cannot lead to unregulated cell growth and, therefore, cancer.

    Otherwise, what would you mean by a cancer occurring “just by accident”?

  65. pec says:

    “I also infer that you believe that a mutation in a gene, which may have various environmental causes, cannot lead to unregulated cell growth and, therefore, cancer.”

    I don’t think that cancer can always be explained that simply. There can be problems with the immune system, for example, that prevent it from destroying cancer cells that a healthy immune system would have destroyed.

    The overall health of the body may affect its ability to prevent the abnormal growth of malignant cells.

    Mainstream medical science has not focused on this kind of approach to understanding the cancer. The assumption is usually that cancer starts because of something like a genetic mutation, and once it starts it will progress to cause disease.

    But we know that the body defends itself against potential cancer all the time. Why does this defense sometimes fail? Why does cancer often recur after it has been surgically and chemically destroyed?

  66. weing says:

    “Mainstream medical science has not focused on this kind of approach to understanding the cancer. ”
    This sounds like a straw man argument. This has been and continues to be an area of research since at least when I was in medical school, and that was almost 30 years ago. The way I see it is that various researchers are, pardon the pun, pecking away at various components of the biology of cancer.

  67. pec says:

    weing,

    The standard mainstream treatments do not consider the health of the immune system, just the opposite. The assumption is that cancer starts because of an accident, a genetic mutation, and eradicating the tumor will cure the disease.

    Alternative approaches — and I do not promote any of them — are MUCH more likely to consider cancer a disorder involving more than cancer cells. Whether they succeed or not, at least they try to strengthen the immune system and promote general health.

    Mainstream standard treatments only target cancer cells. They weaken the immune system, making it harder for the body to defend itself.

    I am NOT saying alternative medical science has found answers — I really do not know. But at least they do not focus exclusively on eradicating cancer which is at least sometimes a symptom rather than cause of disease.

    Maybe an ideal approach would know when it makes sense to consider cancer cells the disease and destroy them, and when it makes sense to consider them merely a symptom, and to look for other causes.

    When people hear that a cancer treatment has a 93% success rate they assume that cancer research is on the right track. That is probably why it has stayed on that track for so long.

  68. Harriet Hall says:

    pec said,

    “Maybe an ideal approach would know when it makes sense to consider cancer cells the disease and destroy them, and when it makes sense to consider them merely a symptom, and to look for other causes.”

    An ideal approach is to destroy the cancer cells and ALSO to look for any underlying factors that might have predisposed the patient to develop cancer. That’s what science is trying to do.

  69. Harriet Hall says:

    pec said,

    “When people hear that a cancer treatment has a 93% success rate they assume that cancer research is on the right track. That is probably why it has stayed on that track for so long.”

    The public might ask why the success rate is not 100%. I don’t think you can assume you know what the public assumes. I don’t think the public’s opinion has anything whatsoever to do with the direction of cancer research. I think the public strongly supports cancer research. I think scientists, not the public, determine what studies are done. I think you think cancer research is stuck in a rut. I think cancer research is already considering all the things you are asking it to consider.

  70. weing says:

    “The standard mainstream treatments do not consider the health of the immune system, just the opposite. The assumption is that cancer starts because of an accident, a genetic mutation, and eradicating the tumor will cure the disease.”
    That is untrue. What is true is that we don’t have enough results in this area, but progress is being made. The treatment of melanoma with vaccines has been in use for some time and progress is being made there.

  71. Harriet Hall says:

    I said, “That claim was true! The survival rate for treated patients IS 93%. That is documented. You can’t question that. What you are questioning is only how much of that survival rate is actually due to the treatment.”

    pec said, “Yes of course. It’s the kind of deception that fools most people.”

    It is not deception to say there is a 93% survival rate. It is stating a simple fact.

    Patients will most likely assume that the survival rate without treatment is significantly lower, and that assumption will be correct. Even if it was 50% (which I seriously doubt for a 1 cm cancer), I can’t imagine that knowing those numbers would affect a patient’s decision to accept treatment.

    pec, you still haven’t answered my question: What do you think the doctors should have told the patient with the 1 cm cancer?
    PLEASE ANSWER THIS QUESTION.

  72. pec says:

    http://www.heartzine.com/
    695-ChemotherapyforBreastCancerRaises-Heart-Risk.html

  73. pec says:

    Did you know that a drug commonly used in treating breast cancer has absolutely no benefit for over 90% of patients, and is known to cause heart damage?

    (I tried and tried to post a link but it seems that some links — maybe if they’re too long? — cannot be posted on this blog)

  74. Harriet Hall says:

    pec is moving the goalposts. She said,

    “Did you know that a drug commonly used in treating breast cancer has absolutely no benefit for over 90% of patients, and is known to cause heart damage?”

    We know that some drugs (for breast cancer and for many non-cancer conditions) offer only a small chance of benefit and have side effects. They are also very expensive. It is very difficult to decide when to use them, but some patients WANT to take these drugs. They hope they will be in the 10% and will live longer and they are willing to take the risk.

    But what does that have to do with the subject under discussion? The patient in question was not offered risky treatments for advanced metastatic cancer where there were few options left. She was offered surgery and effective treatment with a high chance of success.

    pec, What do you think the doctors should have told the patient with the 1 cm cancer?
    PLEASE ANSWER THIS QUESTION.

  75. pec says:

    As far as I know at this point, surgery would probably not be harmful and would have been worth trying for this patient, but chemotherapy and radiation should probably be avoided.

    No one could have known in advance that she had such an aggressive form of cancer. Of course now we know and we know that the wrong approach was taken. It’s a lot easier looking back than forward.

    For other patients, the outcomes may be very different. They might be exposed to damaging treatments when their cancer would never have caused symptoms. They might die from heart disease caused or aggravated by chemo and radiation.

    But I was never commenting about this particular case, just Dr. Gorski’s unrealistic claim for his success rate. I have said repeatedly that I am not a health care provider and I do not prescribe or recommend cancer treatments.

    But this post was obviously extremely biased. It uses one case as an example, and implies that alternative treatments never work, and mainstream treatments work most of the time. That is not scientific or fair or rational. It is public relations for the mainstream cancer industry.

  76. Harriet Hall says:

    pec said,

    “But I was never commenting about this particular case, just Dr. Gorski’s unrealistic claim for his success rate. ”

    But Dr. Gorski’s claim was for this particular case. It did not apply to other breast cancer patients with other types and stages of cancer. And it was not an unrealistic claim for his success rate, it was a simple statement of the fact that 93% of patients in that category were alive 5 years after treatment.

    “chemotherapy and radiation should probably be avoided.”

    Why do you say that? Do you know the difference in survival between surgery alone and surgery with additional treatment?

    You still haven’t answered: What do you think the doctors should have told the patient with the 1 cm cancer?
    PLEASE ANSWER THIS QUESTION.

  77. weing says:

    In the case presented, based on what is known of the natural history of the disease, her progression was almost 100% certain. When you say no one knows, you are referring to non-physicians. We do know a few things. Not everything but a few.

  78. qetzal says:

    pec wrote:

    Alternative approaches — and I do not promote any of them — are MUCH more likely to consider cancer a disorder involving more than cancer cells. Whether they succeed or not, at least they try to strengthen the immune system and promote general health.

    Mainstream standard treatments only target cancer cells. They weaken the immune system, making it harder for the body to defend itself.

    I am NOT saying alternative medical science has found answers — I really do not know. But at least they do not focus exclusively on eradicating cancer which is at least sometimes a symptom rather than cause of disease.

    Maybe an ideal approach would know when it makes sense to consider cancer cells the disease and destroy them, and when it makes sense to consider them merely a symptom, and to look for other causes.

    Bona fide cancer researchers have been investigating such questions for decades. And they’ve done so in a far more rigorous way than your ‘alternative medical scientists [sic]‘.

    The problem is that so far, none of the attempts to ‘strengthen the immune system’ actually work in fighting cancer. (Human cancer, that is; they often work quite impressively in mice.)

    And that’s the key here, pec. It doesn’t do today’s patient any good to consider cancer a symptom, or to try to strengthen their immune systems, because NONE OF THOSE DO ANY GOOD! Hopefully that will change one day.

    In the meantime, that’s what separates ‘mainstream’ from ‘alternative’ medicine. The former focuses on what works. The latter focuses on what sounds good.

  79. David Gorski says:

    As far as I know at this point, surgery would probably not be harmful and would have been worth trying for this patient, but chemotherapy and radiation should probably be avoided.

    On what basis do you say that? For one thing, if the patient didn’t get radiation she would have needed a mastectomy because the risk of local recurrence would have been unacceptably high without it. As for chemotherapy, even though in a case like this woman it only provides a 2-3% absolute survival benefit, most women will opt for it even when quoted that figure and when the side effects of chemotherapy are explained in gory detail.

    No one could have known in advance that she had such an aggressive form of cancer.

    Wrong.

    The biopsy showed an invasive, ugly-looking cancer in a young woman. Such cancers tend to be aggressive, particularly in young women.

    But this post was obviously extremely biased. It uses one case as an example, and implies that alternative treatments never work, and mainstream treatments work most of the time.

    It does not imply that alternative treatments never work. It implies that we do not know of any that can cure early stage breast cancer. Actually, it’s not an implication, it’s a fact. We don’t know of any that can cure cancer. If you know of one that can, by all means share it with us, along with the best evidence supporting it.

    As for whether mainstream treatments work most of the time, this post says nothing other than that mainstream treatments do work most of the time for early breast cancer. The evidence is quite clear, your obfuscation and denials notwithstanding.

  80. David Gorski says:

    Maybe an ideal approach would know when it makes sense to consider cancer cells the disease and destroy them, and when it makes sense to consider them merely a symptom, and to look for other causes.

    What “other causes” can result in cancer cells as a “symptom” rather than the disease itself? Please be specific and cite your best evidence.

  81. pec says:

    ” As for chemotherapy, even though in a case like this woman it only provides a 2-3% absolute survival benefit, most women will opt for it even when quoted that figure and when the side effects of chemotherapy are explained in gory detail.”

    Well they shouldn’t. It can increase their risk for heart disease and who knows what else. I don’t understand why most women make such an irrational choice.

  82. pec says:

    “What “other causes” can result in cancer cells as a “symptom” rather than the disease itself? Please be specific and cite your best evidence.”

    I am talking about the hypothesis that cancer cells are sometimes a sign of a more general disorder. The mainstream assumption is that a genetic mutation, for example, results in abnormal cells which become cancer. According to that assumption, eradicating the cancer cells is the essential goal of treatment.

    But according to some, or most, alternative approaches, the goal is to determine why the body was not able to destroy or contain the abnormal cells, as it should.

    I am not saying that any alternative approaches have succeeded — I don’t know. But I think looking for and treating the cause makes more sense than attacking what may only be a symptom.

  83. David Gorski says:

    I am talking about the hypothesis that cancer cells are sometimes a sign of a more general disorder. The mainstream assumption is that a genetic mutation, for example, results in abnormal cells which become cancer. According to that assumption, eradicating the cancer cells is the essential goal of treatment.

    But according to some, or most, alternative approaches, the goal is to determine why the body was not able to destroy or contain the abnormal cells, as it should.

    You did not answer my question; so I repeat it:

    What “other causes” can result in cancer cells as a “symptom” rather than the disease itself? Please be specific and cite your best evidence.

    You’re also woefully clueless about cancer research if you don’t think that cancer researchers haven’t already considered the possibility that the body could impact on the development and growth of cancer. It’s a hot area of research. Look up “tumor microenvironment” or “field effect.”

  84. daedalus2u says:

    I think pec has a very clear idea of what “other causes” she is thinking about, but doesn’t want to mention them because they will identify the type of woo that she subscribes to. I think the “other causes” she is thinking of are engrams.

  85. Harriet Hall says:

    pec said,

    “But according to some, or most, alternative approaches, the goal is to determine why the body was not able to destroy or contain the abnormal cells, as it should.”

    For crying out loud! That’s the goal of medical science too!! Who ever suggested it wasn’t? Clinical medicine, meanwhile, has to do the best it can to treat the existing cancers.

    I will ask AGAIN: What do you think the doctors should have told the patient with the 1 cm cancer?

    PLEASE ANSWER THIS QUESTION.

  86. David Gorski says:

    I think pec has a very clear idea of what “other causes” she is thinking about, but doesn’t want to mention them because they will identify the type of woo that she subscribes to. I think the “other causes” she is thinking of are engrams.

    That’s certainly one possibility.

    Another possibility is that pec is a subscriber to something along the lines of Ryke Geerd Hamer‘s German New Medicine and its Iron Rule of Cancer.

    Basically, Hamer postulates that the cancer itself is not a disease but rather the manifestation of a psychological “conflict-shock” that can be identified and that people do not die of cancer itself. (Tell that to some of the cancer patients with whose care I’ve been involved.) Even more outrageously, Hamer claimed that in patients who had never undergone conventional therapy or chemotherapy his success rate is 95-98%. That’s not just for a highly treatable cancer like early stage breast cancer but for all cancers.

    The particularly disgusting thing is that the German New Medicine in essence blames the patient if she doesn’t get better because clearly she couldn’t manage to identify and deal with the “conflict-shock” that supposedly caused it.

    Or perhaps pec subscribes to Robert O. Young’s idea that cancer is not a disease but rather a liquid manifestation of too much acidity in the blood.

  87. pec says:

    I HAVE NEVER SAID OR SUGGESTED ANYTHING LIKE THAT.

  88. Harriet Hall says:

    pec said,

    “Well they shouldn’t. It can increase their risk for heart disease and who knows what else. I don’t understand why most women make such an irrational choice.”

    You can’t tell other people what they should or shouldn’t do. The millions of people who smoke “shouldn’t” but if they choose to take the risk, they have that right. People who gamble “shouldn’t” because the chance of winning is tiny and the risk of losing their money is huge. If a woman is willing to accept a risky treatment for a small chance of a longer life, she has that right. You may not understand their thinking, but if you were in their shoes you might. Maybe if you asked some of them why they made that choice you could gain some insight.

    My mother made what I thought at the time was an irrational choice. She accepted chemotherapy for a cancer that had already metastasized, when the chemo had only a small chance of succeeding and large chance of side effects. Her choice turned out to be the right one, because she died of old age a quarter of a century later, with no signs of recurrent cancer. I’m glad now I didn’t try to talk her out of it. You might say I can’t be absolutely sure she wouldn’t have survived without chemo, but it was highly unlikely.

    Perhaps you should put more effort into understanding why people make those decisions, and less effort into trying to find fault with the best efforts of intelligent, caring, informed doctors who are doing their best to help people.

  89. pec says:

    I have never said or suggested anything like that. And you know it.

  90. Harriet Hall says:

    pec,

    I will ask AGAIN: What do you think the doctors should have told the patient with the 1 cm cancer?

    PLEASE ANSWER THIS QUESTION

  91. pec says:

    “Basically, Hamer postulates that the cancer itself is not a disease but rather the manifestation of a psychological “conflict-shock” that can be identified and that people do not die of cancer itself.”

    I HAVE NEVER SAID OR SUGGESTED I BELIEVE ANYTHING LIKE THAT.

    “Or perhaps pec subscribes to Robert O. Young’s idea that cancer is not a disease but rather a liquid manifestation of too much acidity in the blood.”

    I HAVE NEVER SAID OR SUGGESTED I BELIEVE ANYTHING LIKE THAT.

  92. Harriet Hall says:

    I don’t think pec subscribes to any alternative cancer theory. She keeps saying she “doesn’t know” about them. She only “knows” that conventional medicine is wrong.

  93. David Gorski says:

    I HAVE NEVER SAID OR SUGGESTED I BELIEVE ANYTHING LIKE THAT.

    THEN WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE?

    Stop dancing around the issue and tell us. What is the “other cause” whose manifestation is cancer cells? As long as you keep dodging that question, we have little choice but to speculate what you are referring to when you say that “other causes” result in cancer cells forming. Hamer’s German New Medicine and Young’s acid-base quackery are simply two forms of “alternative” medicine that postulate that cancer cells themselves do not actually represent disease and that the cause of the cancer cells is not in the cancer cells themselves.

    So end the speculation and tell us what you think is the “other cause” whose manifestation is cancer cells!

  94. pec says:

    PEC: “But according to some, or most, alternative approaches, the goal is to determine why the body was not able to destroy or contain the abnormal cells, as it should.”

    HALL: “For crying out loud! That’s the goal of medical science too!! Who ever suggested it wasn’t?”

    Gorski: “What “other causes” can result in cancer cells as a “symptom” rather than the disease itself? Please be specific and cite your best evidence.”

  95. pec says:

    “As for whether mainstream treatments work most of the time, this post says nothing other than that mainstream treatments do work most of the time for early breast cancer. The evidence is quite clear’

    No, the evidence is not clear since the comparison cannot be made, for ethical reasons.

  96. David Gorski says:

    No, the evidence is not clear…

    Yes, in the case discussed, it is. Your denying it doesn’t change that.

  97. David Gorski says:

    PEC: “But according to some, or most, alternative approaches, the goal is to determine why the body was not able to destroy or contain the abnormal cells, as it should.”

    HALL: “For crying out loud! That’s the goal of medical science too!! Who ever suggested it wasn’t?”

    Gorski: “What “other causes” can result in cancer cells as a “symptom” rather than the disease itself? Please be specific and cite your best evidence.”

    pec is being obtuse and nonresponsive again.

  98. pec says:

    “THEN WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE?”

    I am a skeptical scientist. I am criticizing the belief that the life-threatening diseases we refer to as cancer can be cured, or successfully treated, by eradicating the cancer cells. I am not going to pretend I know what causes all cancer.

    Dr. Hall seems to be saying that mainstream science agrees with me, that the cancer cells may at least sometimes be a symptom rather than a cause.

    But I get the impression that Dr. Gorski finds this idea to be associated with ridiculous quackery.

  99. daedalus2u says:

    I think her woo is Scientology. She is being very careful in her language not to deny it, just to say that she never said it or suggested it.

    There was a comment where she did say that she took stuff from multiple different things where each of them made sense, and included Scientology among the things that she thought made enough sense in some areas for her to get “something” from it.

    I think the language and thinking structure fits too. Talking in code, but won’t tell what the “code” means.

  100. Fifi says:

    pec is so entertaining, now she’s trying to claim to be a scientist! Please enlighten us to whether you completed your degree and what it’s in.

    Since you’ve expressed a belief in “subluxations” and have made it clear that you have a belief in psychics (in the neurology blog), I think your self proclaimed credentials as a “skeptical scientist” need to be made clear. I mean, if you trained as a chiropractor and believe in subluxations then it’s very relevant to your beliefs about cancer.

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