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Dr. Frank Arguello’s “atavistic oncology”: Another dubious cancer therapy to be avoided

EDITOR’S NOTE: Dr. Arguello has responded. See his response and my reply here.

Not infrequently, I’m asked why it is that I do what I do. Why do I spend so many hours of my free time, both here and at my not-so-super-secret other blog (NSSSOB), to write my detailed analyses of various forms of quackery, analyses of scientific studies, and expressions of my dismay at the infiltration of pseudoscience into medicine, particularly medical academia in a phenomenon I like to call “quackademic medicine”? One reason, of course, is because I passionately believe in what I am doing. Another reason is that I want information countering various forms of dubious medicine to be out there, and I have two well-trafficked blogs as a platform, although SBM long ago surpassed my NSSSOB in traffic and reach.

Over the last six years, there are some topics that I’ve written about many times, such as the antivaccine movement, Stanislaw Burzynski, cancer quackery, and common myths about cancer treatment. Surprisingly, there are some topics left that I should have written about a long time ago but haven’t, even though I had heard of them before. One such topic, atavistic oncology and chemotherapy, was brought to my attention a couple of weeks ago by a reader, who basically pointed me to a particular dubious bit of cancer treatment whose chief proponent, Dr. Frank Arguello, is apparently currently touring Canada to do conferences and meet with potential patients, placing ads in local newspapers in the cities in which he will be appearing. His meeting with patients in Canada seems particularly problematic, because his cancer practice is located in San Jose del Cabo, Baja California Sur, Mexico, a location that, given the nature of his practice and claims, struck me as remarkable only because it’s not Tijuana. In any case, Dr. Arguello just appeared in Saskatoon on Friday and is scheduled to appear in Regina on July 30, with appearances in Winnipeg, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, and Toronto promised in the future, as well as U.S. appearances in San Francisco and Los Angeles. Specifically, after his appearance in Regina, advertised here:

ArguelloRegina


“Helpfully,” Dr. Arguello points out that he will be staying in Regina on July 31 to “meet with patients,” no doubt to try to recruit them to come to his clinic in Mexico to be treated. One wonders if he could be nailed for practicing medicine without a Canadian license. Be that as it may, what, exactly, is Dr. Arguello’s “atavistic oncology”? It’s a post I’ve been meaning to do for probably years now; so now is as good a time as any. It’s also because the hypothesis that cancer represents an “atavism,” the reawakening of ancient genetic programs seen in our single-celled ancestors billions of years ago, pops up periodically and sounds plausible. Unfortunately, virtually every example of this hypothesis is riddled with misunderstandings of evolutionary biology that render the hypothesis at best highly implausible.

Warning signs of quackery in Dr. Arguello’s atavistic oncology

It is important to differentiate two aspects of “atavistic” oncology. First, there is the hypothesis that cancer represents “atavism,” a reversion to an ancient evolutionary pathway seen in single cell organisms and early multicellular organisms. As I will discuss later, this hypothesis is not well-supported by the evidence and, in fact, represents active misunderstanding of evolutionary biology. The second issue is, assuming it is an accurate hypothesis, what atavism implies for the actual treatment of cancer. In other words, even if atavism is true, would Dr. Arguello’s proposed treatment actually target it in such a manner as to result in better outcomes than existing treatments? In that area, Dr. Arguello fails even more astoundingly, as you will see.

The first thing I noticed when I perused Dr. Arguello’s website is that it demonstrates a number of the warning flags of quackery. For example, one notes a paucity of clinical trial data published in the peer-reviewed medical literature supporting the efficacy of his methods, but one does see a lot of testimonials. If one looks at Dr. Arguello’s CV and his LinkedIn page, you find a seemingly-impressive list of positions before he became the director of the Dr. Frank Arguello Cancer Clinic, Institute of Science and Genomic Medicine, including:

  1. Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Division University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry (1990-1994)
  2. Senior Investigator, Laboratory of Drug Discovery, Research and Development Division of Cancer Treatment, Developmental Therapeutics Program, National Cancer Institute- FCRDC (1994-2000)
  3. Section Head of Preclinical Research & Development, Department of Drug Discovery Institute of Research Cesare Serono S.P.A ., The Ares-Serono Group (2000-2001)

An examination of Dr. Arguello’s CV and PubMed record rapidly reveals that his last peer-reviewed publication was in 2002, and that it was a review article. His scientific output, which had been pretty decent between 1988 and 2000. In academia, we sometimes see this sort of thing in doctors who decide to leave academia and go into private practice, but in the case of doctors like Dr. Arguello, who suddenly “discover” The One True Cause of Cancer and how to treat it, it’s a red flag suggesting unproven medicine at best and quackery at worst. In this case, it wasn’t until 2013 that he founded his clinic. In the meantime, he was busy starting a biotech business.

There’s even an offer to face a “public challenge” by conventional oncologists to demonstrate the efficacy of his methods by treating a patient with stage IV breast cancer, with the following criteria:

  • The challenge will be advertised publically by the hosting institution (challenger), and communicated to the press, who shall monitor the results over time.
  • The patient must have stage IV breast cancer. Other cases can be treated as long as a stage IV breast cancer patient is included in the challenge.
  • The patient must have a Karnofsky Performance Scale above 80%, and documented evidence that she has not been exposed to conventional chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy.
  • A neutral, non-biased review committee will review the protocol and publish the results.
  • The challenging institution must cover all expenses for the patient(s), studies, medical honorariums, travel, etc., and must make all legal and regulatory arrangements for the study. Confidentiality agreements, disclaimers, etc., will be established.
  • The challenging institution must have strong medical and scientific recognition to render a verdict that will affect the criteria of the medical and scientific community.

He even issued a press release for his challenge!

Of course, this is not the way things are done, and Dr. Arguello’s challenge is much like Jock Doubleday’s vaccine challenge in that it’s constructed in such a way that it’s unlikely that anyone will ever accept it, certainly not a reputable academic cancer center. This is not a clinical trial, much less a randomized clinical trial. No IRB worth its salt would ever approve such a “challenge,” because it is also totally unethical to offer an experimental therapy to a patient who hasn’t received standard-of-care treatment yet, given that there do currently exist effective treatments that at least palliate stage IV breast cancer. That’s particularly true given that Dr. Arguello doesn’t present any compelling preclinical evidence in cell culture or animal models to support his treatment. It’s even more of a problem, given that Dr. Arguello doesn’t even reveal the drugs and treatments he uses. Yes, you read that right. In a section of his patient brochure entitled “Drugs Employed & Their Use”, Dr. Arguello writes that he uses various FDA-approved drugs “off-label” to treat cancer:

The drugs used in combination have been selected based on the principles of “Atavistic Metamorphosis” published by Dr. Arguello in 2011, and after years of testing them in hopeless cancer patients. They fall in the pharmaceutical group of anti-bacterial (antibiotics), anti-fungal and anti-protozoal (anti-parasitic) drugs. Anti-viral drugs have also a place within the principles of Atavistic Chemotherapy because viruses preceded cells in their origin, and they were the precursors of the first cells on this planet. However, costs and toxicity of antiviral drugs have forced us to use them only when other approaches fail.

Because of delays in obtaining patents, the actual names of the medicines given in Atavistic Chemotherapy are not revealed to the patient. All of the drugs employed have expired patents since being in the market for decades. However, we are in the process of filing for patent protection for “New Use” or “New Formulation,” in order to protect the intellectual property and credit for this work. Although the drugs we use have been around for many years, Atavistic Chemotherapy and Immunotherapy is a new type of cancer treatment.

Another reason for not divulging the names of the medications is to prevent patients from self-medicating. It also prevents well-meaning caregivers from misusing drugs with which they are not familiar with in the treatment of cancer.

How humane. What rot! Sure, Dr. Arguello says that he’ll tell patients what the classes of drugs are that his patient receives and will offer them a hotline to find out exactly what the drugs are if they’re ever hospitalized and their doctors really need to know what they’re taking, but none of that helps scientists and oncologists to evaluate whether his treatments have any plausibility or likelihood of working. That’s the point. Of course, if any university were ever to accept a “challenge” from Dr. Arguello, he’d be forced to reveal exactly what his concoction is. Surely he knows this. In fact, in a way, Dr. Arguello is even worse than Stanislaw Burzynski. At least Burzynski apparently actually tried to do clinical trials before legitimate researchers decided they couldn’t work with him and he settled in 1997 on his model of using them to keep his clinic open and make money. Dr. Arguello doesn’t even seem to have done that.

But what is “atavastic oncology,” anyway?

Cancer as atavism: The resurrection of a very old idea

Perhaps the best way to explain what Dr. Arguello appears to mean when he describes “atavastic oncology” is to go to the source. Unfortunately (and not surprisingly), it’s a rather disjointed source, but it’s what Dr. Arguello claims; so we’re stuck with it. If you have time to go through it, there’s this 45 minute video:

On his website, there is this:

Cells in multicellular organisms have developed, over billions of years of evolution, complex and specialized cell functions according to their role in the body of multicellular organisms (skin cells, pancreatic cells, brain cells, etc.). We call these specialized cells “differentiated cells.” When differentiated cells lose their features of differentiation, they become “undifferentiated cells.”

We believe that when this happens, loss of differentiation features, cells reverse to their original, independent unicellular life form, and re-activate their basic functions of life: obtaining nourishment from the surrounding environment, reproducing themselves, migrating and spreading to ensure survival and perpetuation of life. This is what we call cancer. In other words, when a cell in a multicellular organism (animal or plant) reverts to its unicellular life form, cancer has developed. The resulting colony of reverted cancer cells will reproduce and spread inside the multicellular organism disrupting its functions and eventually causing its death.

And:

Atavistic metamorphosis proposes that cancer cells are cells that have reverted, evolutionarily, to their ancestral, independent status as unicellular organisms. It is from there that cancer only occurs in plants and animals/humans (multicellular organisms). This also explains why cancer does not occur nor can be induced experimentally in unicellular organisms such as bacteria, fungi and protozoa.

That last bit is about as silly as it gets. Of course, unicellular organisms can’t get cancer! Cancer, by its very definition as a set of diseases, requires a multicellular organism. Indeed, a seminal article from 2000 by Douglas Hanahan and Robert Weinberg described six hallmarks of cancer thusly:

  1. sustaining proliferative signaling
  2. evading growth suppressors
  3. resisting cell death
  4. enabling replicative immortality
  5. inducing angiogenesis
  6. activating invasion and metastasis

An update to this seminal work was published in 2011 and added additional hallmarks that had emerged over the last decade:

gr6

The point is that cancer is defined as a disease of multicellular organisms that results in a proliferating “organ” that doesn’t obey the rules that keep the rest of our cells growing when they’re supposed to grow, maintaining the structures they’re supposed to maintain, and staying in the parts of the body where they’re supposed to stay. Of course, unicellular organisms don’t get it!

It turns out that Dr. Arguello isn’t the only one promoting the atavistic hypothesis of cancer right now. In fact, two astrophysicists, Paul Davies and Charley Lineweaver, have been intermittently in the news for publishing a “unifying hypothesis” on the evolutionary origins of cancer. Back in 2011, for instance, Davies published an article in The Guardian entitled “Cancer: The beat of an ancient drum?” based on an article published by Davies and Lineweaver in Physical Biology entitled “Cancer tumors as Metazoa 1.0: tapping genes of ancient ancestors“. It turns out that the National Cancer Institute, in an effort to look at cancer in new ways, had recruited physical scientists to provide fresh insights. This was not a bad idea on its surface, but one consequence of bringing in people from unrelated disciplines is that they don’t know which hypotheses that have been considered before and rejected based on the evidence and therefore frequently act as though they were the first to have thought of a new hypothesis, as Davies does here:

With no prior knowledge of cancer, I started asking some very basic questions. What struck me from the outset is that something as pervasive and stubborn as cancer must be a deep part of the story of life itself. Sure enough, cancer is found in almost all multicellular organisms, suggesting its origins stretch back hundreds of millions of years.

Oncologists tend to think of cancer as a motley collection of cells gone berserk, but to me the way that tumours grow and spread to other organs indicates an organised and systematic strategy, designed to evade all that the body and the medical profession can throw at it. Such well-honed behaviour suggests they are the product of a long period of biological evolution.

I began wondering whether cancer might be an evolutionary throwback to the dawn of multicellular life, when single cells began cooperating and forming rudimentary aggregations.

And:

The reason that cancer deploys so many formidable survival traits in succession, is, we think, because the ancient genetic toolkit active in the earliest stages of embryogenesis gets switched back on, re-activating the Proterozoic developmental plan for building cell colonies. If you travelled in a time machine back one billion years, you would see many clumps of cells resembling modern cancer tumours.

The implications of our theory, if correct, are profound. Rather than cancers being rogue cells degenerating randomly into genetic chaos, they are better regarded as organised footsoldiers marching to the beat of an ancient drum, recapitulating a billion-year-old lifestyle. As cancer progresses in the body, so more and more of the ancestral core within the genetic toolkit is activated, replaying evolution’s story in reverse sequence. And each step confers a more malignant trait, making the oncologist’s job harder.

Note that this is merely a more “sophisticated”-sounding version of the same sorts of arguments that Dr. Arguello makes. Moreover, neither Lineweaver and Davies nor Arguello were the first to have thought of this idea. It’s a very old idea, indeed. Indeed, on Dr. Arguello’s site, there is a list of quotes from what he calls the “pioneers of atavistic metamorphosis,” including Rudolf Virchow, Herbert Snow, and Sir Henry Butlin, all of whom died at least over 84 years ago, with Virchow having made his name as the “father of modern pathology” back in the 19th century. In 2013, Darren Saunders pointed out that the idea that cancer represents some sort of devolutionary state dates at least as far back as Theodore Boveri, who 112 years ago published a fascinating article on the origin of cancer that, in part, discussed “interesting parallels” between malignant tumors and embryos produced by multiple divisions in the doubly fertilized sea urchin egg, as a suggestion of how tumors can resemble cells from early stages of embryogenesis. No wonder Saunders also likened the atavistic hypothesis of cancer from two astrophysicists to a doctor who reinvented calculus.

P.Z. Myers explained in depth why this line of reasoning was wrong, pointing out what any cancer biologist knows, namely that this “ancestral core of genes and processes deep in metazoan development” supposedly lurking, silenced, waiting to be switched on and to “turn the cell into a prehistoric monster” are not silent at all. They’re highly conserved (meaning that they’re so fundamental to cellular function that they developed very early in evolution and haven’t changed much) and active, controlling important developmental processes. They’re genes involved in cell division, adhesion, motility, and apoptosis (programmed cell death). As recognized by Hanahan and Weinberg’s hallmarks of cancer, they are the central controls that are disrupted in cancer and lose control over cell division. Moreover, Lineweaver and Davies, at least, totally misunderstand unicellular organisms when they argue that the ancient cellular program resurrected in cancer cells doesn’t “contain the genes that regulate cell proliferation.” Anyone who’s ever studied bacteriology would know that’s utter poppycock. Yes, even E. coli regulate their proliferation in response to a number of environmental factors, and there are bacteria that go completely dormant and form nonreplicating spores when environmental conditions are too harsh for replication.

The bottom line is that cancers are not most like single celled organisms. For one thing, they cannot survive outside of the body, leading Saunders to propose a test for the atavistic hypothesis: Drop tumor cells into the ocean and see if they live and grow, like ancient unicellular organisms could. In fact, most tumor cells can’t even survive for that long away from their fellow tumor cells in the body. The few that can are the ones that form metastases, but the vast majority of tumor cells that dislodge from the main tumor mass and get into the bloodstream die. Another limitation of the idea is the assumption that early metazoan organisms resemble tumor-like growths, which is simply not observed. As Saunders pointed out, cancers are dysfunctional by definition. I myself have written about how genetically messed up the genomes of cancer cells are on numerous occasions and how evolution drives the tumors to become more and more heterogeneous as they progress.

So what’s Arguello’s twist on atavism as the explanation for cancer? Well, I can’t read his book, although I could peruse a couple of chapters on Amazon. Well, his “reasoning, such as it is given that it’s based on an untenable hypothesis is this:

Atavistic oncology postulates that cancer cells are cells that have reactivated past evolutionary genetic information preserved in the genome (DNA). Thus cancer cells reacquire the abilities and behavior of their ancestral precursor cells, the primitive unicellular organisms. Therefore, malignant or pathogenic characteristics found in cancer cells such as unlimited replicative potential; capacity for invasion, migration, and metastases; abilities to evade the host’s immune system, and generate multidrug resistance; and abilities to live in hostile conditions are cellular traits reasserted from their hereditary past as primitive, independent single-celled organisms.

This does not imply that cancer cells are bacteria, or protozoa, or yeasts. It means that cancer cells express functions or behaviors similar to their ancestral parents, the unicellular organisms (such as bacteria-like and protist-like organisms) from which our cells originated.

If this is true, a combination of drugs that are effective to eradicate certain unicellular organisms should work in cancer treatment. Not only they should work, but this approach must be superior to any other approach used in the past to treat cancer. Because of the overwhelming results we have obtained and shown on our website, we prophesize that Atavistic Chemotherapy and Immunotherapy will become the way cancer is treated in the world.

So now we have the explanation for why Dr. Arguello uses anti-bacterial (antibiotics), anti-fungal, and anti-protozoal (anti-parasitic) drugs to treat cancer. It doesn’t explain why he uses antiviral drugs “when other approaches fail,” given that viruses are not considered to be unicellular organisms, given that they are not cells at all. Indeed, they are not even really considered to be alive, given that they cannot replicate by themselves and require a living host cell to do so. In fact, he even takes the idea that cancer cells are like metazoans and protozoans to the extreme that he thinks he can vaccinate against them by vaccinating against bacteria, while conceding, well:

Although unproven and totally speculative, we believe that the immune system can see and recognize molecular similarities on the surface among cancer cells, bacteria, protozoa and/or fungi. It is well known that vaccination for a given bacteria can indirectly protect the individual from other types of infections for different organisms not related to those in the vaccine. This is known as cross immune protection or resistance to phylogenetically unrelated organisms.

At least he admits this idea is totally unproven. But if that’s the case, then it’s even more unethical to use them as a basis of treatment without a lot more basic research and clinical trials. Would that he would admit the same for the rest of his ideas, but if you watched his video, you’d see that around 3:30 it’s claimed that Dr. Arguello can produce complete regressions of cancer.

Yes, cancer vaccines are a hot area of research right now. I happen to know researchers at my very own institution who are working on breast cancer vaccines, and I’ve served on the dissertation committee of a graduate student who was looking for ways to increase the efficacy of an experimental breast cancer vaccine. Vaccines are a promising area of research for some cancers. Here’s the problem. What Dr. Arguello is doing is not systematic or targeted, and my expressing my doubt is not, as he puts it, being skeptical about the idea that immunity against unicellular organisms or their toxins can crossreact against cancer cells and kill them. Rather, it’s against the idea that the reason this can happen is because tumor cells are atavistic, which is what Arguello argues. Indeed, it is striking how uncommon these observations appear to be (as demonstrated by the cherry picked papers included to bolster his point), other than the use of BCG as immunotherapy for bladder cancer, noted in a paper he misrepresents as having been published in Nature, when in fact it was published in a Nature journal, Mucosal Immunology.

What about the testimonials?

Leafing through the various testimonials included on Dr. Arguello’s website, I was struck at the resemblance of some of them to testimonials used by Dr. Burzynski. For instance, the case of Barb Juniper is an unfortunately typical case of a woman who developed melanoma, underwent successful surgical treatment, and then suffered a recurrence in the form of two brain metastases and a tiny deposit. These appear to have been surgically resected on January 24, although it’s not clear from the description (or the scans, for that matter), whether both or only one was resected. It’s also mentioned that an apparently-new frontal lobe metastasis was observed on March 4, but it’s also mentioned that an “abscess can’t be ruled out.”

The first thing I noticed is that many of these MRI slices are not at the same level and therefore not directly comparable. One of the lesions was clearly postsurgical change that resolved over the ensuing months. Another appeared to have shrunk in response to Avastin, although one can’t rule out atavistic chemotherapy having something to do with it. Of course, not knowing what drugs Dr. Arguello is giving, I don’t even know if his drugs cross the blood-brain barrier. I’m particularly shocked by this part of the testimonial:

He proposed to the patient a different approach in which for the first 30 days of the treatment the focus would be on reducing the blood flow and vascularity of the brain metastases to prevent bleeding during the actual atavistic chemotherapy and immunotherapy. This is called “Anti-Angiogenesis Treatment.” The patient accepted.

Dr. Arguello saw the patient on February 21, 2014, the same day she started the anti-angiogenesis treatment and continued until April 5, 2014 when the above treatment was discontinued and the atavistic chemotherapy and immunotherapy started.

One notes that we are not told which antiangiogenic therapy was used, but I can’t help but note that, paradoxically, bleeding is not an uncommon complication of certain antiangiogenic drugs. It’s all not particularly convincing.

Another case is that of a man with an indolent leiomyosarcoma of the leg that grew slowly over many years because he refused surgical intervention back in 2008 as the man sought “natural” (actually naturopathic) treatments. The series of photos (graphic!) to this surgeon show no obvious effect, and the patient abandoned treatment. There are several graphic series of photos of advanced breast cancer that might or might not have shown a treatment effect as opposed to the natural course of the tumor.

I like to think of it this way. If Dr. Arguello’s “atavistic” chemotherapy is as effective as he claims it is, it should be child’s play to demonstrate it in even a few relatively small clinical trials for different tumor types. He doesn’t. Instead, he cherry picks testimonials that might or might not show anything (it might be worth a separate post to analyze them individually) and issues nonsensical “challenges,” in essence, for others to do his own work for him. If he really did work as a pediatric oncologist at the University of Rochester and as a Senior Investigator in the Laboratory of Drug Discovery at the NCI, he knows these things. Yet he chooses not to do them. Instead, he does tours of Canada and the US looking for patients, doesn’t reveal what his protocols are, hiding behind a transparently deceptive excuse that he doesn’t want patients to “self-medicate” (and the more believable one that he doesn’t want other quacks to steal his ideas), and selling his cancer quackery at a clinic in Mexico.

There is a reason that atavistic oncology didn’t catch on among cancer researchers and physicians, and it’s not because of ideology and it’s not because of anyone “suppressing” the information. It’s because atavistic oncology is not consistent with well-established principles of biology and evolution based on 150 years of evidence. It’s because the hypothesis that cancer is an atavism provides no useful predictive power for treatment. Lineweaver and Davies might argue otherwise, claiming that atavism suggests treatments based on targeting the Warburg effect, DNA repair mechanisms, ABC transporters (which can function as drug efflux pumps), tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs), and immune interactions, a strategy they label as “target the weakness.” However, as a cancer researcher, I can tell you with knowledge that all of these “weaknesses” are already being investigated as potential therapeutic targets—and have been for at least the last decade—no appeal to atavism needed. Indeed, Lineweaver and Davies suggestion is downright insulting to cancer researchers who discovered the potential importance of these mechanisms in cancer and whose work Lineweaver and Davies seem to have inadvertently coopted as “just-so” stories that support their hypothesis.

Contrary to what Davies, Lineweaver, and Arguello seem to think, the reason the atavistic hypothesis of cancer hasn’t caught on is because it’s a hypothesis that is not new and has been considered and found wanting from a standpoint of biology and evolution. Unfortunately, it is a hypothesis that is easily co-opted for quackery, as Arguello has done.

Posted in: Cancer, Health Fraud

Leave a Comment (133) ↓

133 thoughts on “Dr. Frank Arguello’s “atavistic oncology”: Another dubious cancer therapy to be avoided

  1. Richard Abbott says:

    Is the article cutoff short ? I am not seeing anything after the Regina advert

    1. Richard Abbott says:

      I see it now. Thanks

  2. BKsea says:

    The Davies quote starts off : “With no prior knowledge of cancer,…” That should be a sign you can stop reading right there.

    1. David Gorski says:

      Heheh.

      Well, Davies & Lineweaver have recruited an oncologist for the latest paper, just published a couple of weeks ago. Unfortunately, most oncologists don’t understand evolution any better than astrophysicists. If it’s still holding my interest, maybe next week I’ll do a more in depth discussion. Alternatively, maybe the not-so-super-secret other blog.

  3. Ed Whitney says:

    I am announcing the founding of the Botanic Neurololgic Institute.

    Our breakthrough realization: “Trees don’t get Alzheimer’s .”

    Details to follow. Contributions olf any amount are appreciated.

    1. CHotel says:

      For several decades, there has been no trace of cancer in my mother’s gardens. Clearly the soil around my childhood home is full of anti-cancer chemicals. You can now buy a pound of it for only $5000!

  4. Calli Arcale says:

    “because viruses preceded cells in their origin”

    Well now, that seems to be a pretty remarkable claim that he’s making there. How does he propose viruses preceded cells, given that viruses cannot reproduce without cells? I think it’s far more likely that it went the other way. Certainly there must have been something simpler before the cell, but by definition it was not a virus. I wonder who he’s got that’s dangerously far from his expertise to do paleontology for him, since he’s depending on astrophysicists for his cancer research? Computer scientists, perhaps?

    (I’m not disparaging computer scientists. I’m a software engineer, after all. But while I enjoy prying fossils out of shale as much as the next geek, I’m no expert.)

  5. MTDoc says:

    With what on the surface appears to be an impressive background, I would love to know what his former colleagues think of him. Perhaps something like the Nobel effect. Or, a professor I once worked with, and admired greatly, that one day left his wife and four children and went off to some mountain to wait for the end of the world. The narrow focus on a marginal idea also suggests a measure of OCD or asbergers.
    I suspect he will have little trouble operating a clinic in Mexico.

    1. MTDoc says:

      I mean asperger’s. My country dialect got in the way.

    2. David Gorski says:

      I suspect he will have little trouble operating a clinic in Mexico.

      Well, he’s apparently been operating his clinic there for nearly 14 years.

      1. Michael says:

        I noticed on his website he has a US Office at Arguello Brothers and Associates in Maryland, so for the heck of it i checked to see if he is licensed in Maryland. I didn’t find a licence but I did happen to find some page where a Dr. Frank Arguello of Arguello Brothers and Associates was looking to purchase Miltefosine.

  6. Neil J says:

    Well this sucks. I would have loved to have known about his event in Saskatoon beforehand so I could do some homework and throw a wrench or two in his presentation. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to attend the one in Regina either. Next time anyone catches wind of cranks in the Sasquatchewan area let me know.

  7. simba says:

    I am always amazed at how people like this will include testimonials of people who are clearly not getting better- wouldn’t you be better off just making the testimonials up?

    Years ago I went through a load of testimonials for a friend of mine who had cancer, and had been recommended this quack treatment. Some of them were obvious- ‘cured’ people who were listed in the obituaries as having died of their cancer. Others were more sad, along the lines of (paraphrased) “My husband’s lost a lot of weight and looks worse than ever but he feels like he’s getting better, so thank you I guess for giving him hope.”

    I am not sure of the etiquette of completely off-topic questions, but can anyone direct me to information on phthalates? I’ve read the three articles on here about them, and the articles linked to those, and the CDC article, and searched Science-Based Pharmacy and the NSSOB.

    An acquaintance was talking about how dangerous they are in sex toys specifically, and having read those articles I was wondering how dangerous that kind of exposure could really be if we’re already exposed to phthalates in food and cosmetics. Would there even be a reason to avoid them in cosmetics, sex toys, perfumes etc?

    Sorry, this question is bugging me, and I can’t think of another suitable place to ask it where people are likely to know.

    1. Harriet Hall says:

      Phthalates: reviewed by Dr. Joe Schwarcz here: http://www.montrealgazette.com/health/Schwarcz+Some+forms+phthalates+hazardous+children/7777626/story.html

      Wikipedia article covers the published evidence for health effects pretty well, with references to primary sources. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phthalate#Health_effects

      1. simba says:

        Thank you very much!

        1. simba says:

          Just going to outline my conclusions on what I’ve read if anyone is interested or can correct me: there are some actual health concerns (allergies, breast cancer, obesity) but not much info on the levels acquired with that, cough, particular route of exposure. Most exposure is through fatty foods, dermally (cosmetics, infant cosmetics and medical devices) or inhaled (polishes) and people seem to be pretty much swimming in low levels of these things.

          Sooo tentatively avoid in toys then, it’s not a ‘yoga mat chemical’ thing.

          1. Windriven says:

            @simba

            I own a company that makes the air cushion face masks that anesthesiologists use to preoxygenate you just prior to induction. The cushion is made of soft PVC and, for most customers, we use a phthalate called DINP. Like you, I was concerned about phthalates whenI got involved with this business.

            The current thought is that phthalates are inappropriate for use in nipples for baby bottles and for toys for small children. There is some evidence of endocrine disruption in very young populations. I am not aware of any evidence of harm to adult populations, and especially no evidence with modern phthalates. I don’t manufacture sex toys so I haven’t researched vaginal absorption of phthalates but if you are concerned, silicone would be an obvious alternative.

            Phthalates are used to make PVC soft and flexible. There are alternatives to phthalates but they have different (read less efficient) performance characteristics and tend to be rather more expensive. That would be another alternative but note that the average consumer has no way of testing ‘phthalate free’ claims.

            Finally, phthalate plasticizers are ubiquitous in medical devices from IV sets to suction catheters without evidence of harm.

            1. simba says:

              Thank you, that’s really helpful. People get so frightened about stuff like this, and in certain areas companies seem to be able to say what they like on the label. Add to that the fact that no-one really writes about it (and other areas like this) except for the people who are already afraid, or the people who are trying to sell you a supposedly safer alternative.

              I totally just brought down the tone of the conversation, didn’t I. Ah well.

  8. c0nc0rdance says:

    Yeah, no. Viruses are not suspected by anyone, anywhere to have “preceded cells in their origin, and they were the precursors of the first cells on this planet. ” That’s just nonsensical, and makes me suspicious that this is not just a case of talking outside your specialty. It reads more like “nice scientist has religious epiphany and begins wearing magnet helmet everywhere to heighten his connection to God”.

    1. MTDoc says:

      There you go! Tin foil hat with a profit motive. I’d still love to talk with people who knew him when.

  9. Lytrigian says:

    Pointing out that bacteria cannot get cancer is rather like pointing out that they cannot contract an upper respiratory infection. It’s true, but not particularly helpful.

    1. MadisonMD says:

      Yes, but it does indicate that we could improve health by returning to our historic evolutionary roots– i.e. by becoming unicellular organisms. This is, in fact, how H. Lacks has lived many years despite cancer at a young age.

      1. Lytrigian says:

        Endocytosis: The true Paleo-diet!

        1. Calli Arcale says:

          The two of you have won the Internets for today. :-D

    2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      Rocks also don’t get cancer, I wonder if someone will decide that vivisepulture* is a promising cancer treatment. Which it is, I can guarantee that a successful treatment will ensure you never die of cancer.

      *To all those who love obscure words – you’re welcome.

      1. simba says:

        Thank you!

        You should read Foyle’s Philavery.

        1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          Own a copy :)

          As well as two (two!) copies of the Compact Oxford English Dictionary.

          1. n brownlee says:

            I’ll see your two OEDs and raise you a multivolume edition.

            1. Harriet Hall says:

              I only have one OED, but I have lots of other dictionaries, not only for English but for Spanish, French, Italian, German, Latin, Portuguese, and even Catalan.

              1. n brownlee says:

                All my many dictionaries and usage books are in English, for English. You win, Dr. Hall.

              2. simba says:

                I’m staking it all on my Terminologia Medica Polyglotta. A Latin-Bulgarian-Russian-English-French-German medical dictionary. I am not kidding. Sadly I know little about the writing and author of it, since that bit’s all in Russian.

                They were discarding it in my local library. God knows how it got there. My preeecious…

            2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

              Jebus, like the full 17-volume “takes up two specially-reinforced shelves” edition? Kudos, I suppose. Did you have to take out a second mortgage?

              Have you read Simon Winchester’s book The Meaning of Everything? If not, you should!

              1. n brownlee says:

                Uh, not exactly. A ratty old 10-volume set published in 1937. It’s pretty cool, though. I gave up on a current set- but only after years (decades) of lovesick yearning. Still- I have lots and lots of books, and the 3 language reference shelves are 6-8 feet long.

                I don’t write any more- but I can’t get rid of them, can I? What if I want to look up something and the computer bluescreens? I would just run around in small circles and snatch at my hair and utter little short screams of anguish.

              2. n brownlee says:

                I haven’t read the Winchester book- but it’s on my ever-lengthening list.

      2. Calli Arcale says:

        Vivsepulture for cancer…. I dunno. I’ll let Mr Poe speak a little:

        “There are certain themes of which the interest is all-absorbing, but which are too entirely horrible for the purposes of legitimate fiction. These the mere romanticist must eschew, if he do not wish to offend or to disgust. They are with propriety handled only when the severity and majesty of Truth sanctify and sustain them. We thrill, for example, with the most intense of “pleasurable pain” over the accounts of the Passage of the Beresina, of the Earthquake at Lisbon, of the Plague at London, of the Massacre of St. Bartholomew, or of the stifling of the hundred and twenty-three prisoners in the Black Hole at Calcutta. But in these accounts it is the fact — it is the reality — it is the history which excites. As inventions, we should regard them with simple abhorrence.”

        The Premature Burial. He, of course, goes on to invent stories of premature burial, but I think his last line in that paragraph could as easily describe some of the charlatans we’ve discussed here.

  10. Lisa R. says:

    I’m new to learning about cancer, and trying to sort out the quacks from the real doctors for my mother-in-law who has breast cancer. She had told me about atavistic chemotherapy and when I searched for it today, I found your blog, which I will be showing her.

    As a lay-person though, I have a question. I am wondering if there are any published scientific articles that attempt to ‘cure’ cancer in this way and show that it does not work. You stated several times in the article that atavism has proven to not work – and you do explain it well why this is so. I am just looking for scientific articles for myself (and if I can convince the mother-in-law to read them too, then for her as well). I hope what I am asking is clear – basically have there been any experiments done with rats, etc. using this kind of method and proving that it is not successful, instead of purely biological explanations that persons like myself have a more difficult time understanding. I think an article with a clearly delineated experiment might be easier for a layperson like myself to understand. I do have some scientific background, but it is mainly in chemistry.

    1. Harriet Hall says:

      @Lisa,
      Dr. Gorski explained in his article that there are not any published clinical trials of this therapy, only testimonials, which are notoriously unreliable. Arguello is attempting to bypass the normal scientific process and has rushed to treatment without testing whether it works or not. So we don’t have evidence that it doesn’t work, but we don’t have evidence that it works, either. Based on a knowledge of science and cancer, we have good reason to think that proper testing would show that it didn’t work.

    2. simba says:

      Here are some links I found really helpful while doing something similar:
      http://www.users.on.net/~pmoran/
      http://www.cancertreatmentwatch.org/
      http://www.quackometer.net/
      http://www.senseaboutscience.org/subjects.php?action=tag&id=57
      http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/

      With a lot of these ‘cures’, if there’s nothing remotely promising about it, no-one but the person selling it will ‘test’ it. And they have an interest in not publishing things that show their product doesn’t work. If you have a limited budget to study something to help people with cancer, you will usually try and focus on things that stand a chance of working, rather than on showing that ideas that don’t make sense don’t work.

      1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

        Here are some links I found really helpful while doing something similar:
        http://www.users.on.net/~pmoran/

        Sigh.

        1. David Gorski says:

          Why “sigh”? Peter’s website is really good, albeit hopelessly c.2000 in design.

          1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

            I sigh for 14 years of missed opportunity.

    3. David Gorski says:

      There aren’t even any animal trials I’m aware of using “atavistic oncology” to treat experimental tumors. It’s a whole load of nothing, evidence-wise, other than speculation.

      As for the unreliability of testimonial evidence for cancer cures, I’ve written numerous posts about such things. For example:

      http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/on-the-nature-of-alternative-medicine-cancer-cure-testimonials/

      http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/an-all-too-common-breast-cancer-testimonial-for-alternative-medicine/

      http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/stanislaw-burzynskis-cancer-success-stories/

      http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/suzanne-somers-knockout-spreading-dangerous-misinformation-about-cancer-part-1/

      1. Lisa R. says:

        Thank you everyone for responding. I must have missed that part originally about there not being any clinical trials on this. There is a lot to read! Trying to soak it all in .

        1. CHotel says:

          And thank you for taking the time to research these types of things and question everything you’re hearing! Many people in a situation similar to yours can become overwhelmed at the dearth of truth within all the cure-shouting quacks, and may allow hope to overcome critical thought and reason. Fewer take your route of asking good questions and looking at the science rather than the stories. It’s great to see that your mother-in-law has such a wonderful advocate!

          I hope you continue to read SBM as your searches require, and keep commenting so that we can all try to help you understand anything you feel unclear of.

        2. simba says:

          I hope I didn’t give you too many links! I just found them really useful, sometimes the information I wanted wouldn’t be on one and I’d have to look through the others.

          Well done for taking the time to look at this.

          1. Lisa R. says:

            Thanks everyone – I plan on reading more here at SBM and all the links that have been provided.

            I am wondering something else – there was a side note about the clinic being located in Los Cabos and that it was surprising that it was not in Tijuana (I am paraphrasing here, I can’t seem to find the exact sentence right this second). What’s the deal with Tijuana specifically? I understand why these kinds of clinics might be in Mexico in particular, but what is it about Tijuana that draws so many of them? Are the laws different there, or it is just because it is a popular tourist destination/easy to travel to?

            1. KayMarie says:

              AFIAK it is location. You can have your corporate office in San Diego which seems more legit and easily send clients across the border for treatments.

              I don’t think the rules are different there than elsewhere in Mexico.

        3. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          Lisa, if your mother-in-law comments on how convincing those testimonials are, and many people find testimonials convincing because that’s how humans are, you could ask her a question about negative testimonials. Specifically, “do you think Dr. Arguello would post a testimonial when the treatment didn’t work? And how could someone who died ever provide their testimonial?”

          This illustrates the effect of cherry-picking testimonials on the evidence base.

    4. MadisonMD says:

      One particular reason is not possible to show that Arguello’s treatment is not effective is that he will not tell what the treatment is. It seems to be an off-the-cuff concoction of medications that may well differ for each patient.

    5. Calli Arcale says:

      In addition to the great stuff others have given already, I’d like to add a quick reference to my favorite webcomic. If you find someone telling you that they have the cure to cancer in such a way that your spidey sense starts tingling, and as evidence they offer that it has been shown to work in vitro (i.e. in a lab setting, not in an actual animal or person), keep this in mind:

      http://xkcd.com/1217/

      (Note: all XKCD comics have extra jokes hidden in the alt-text; mouse over the comic to see it.)

  11. qetzal says:

    If cancers grow by reactivating the atavistic programs of ancient unicellular organisms, why do they have so many ways to overcome specific controls of their multicellular/ hosts! You know, the controls and hosts that didn’t exist/ a billion years ago!

    In the immortal words of a certain insolent rabbit, “What a maroon!”

  12. Derek Freyberg says:

    A quick search on the patent database esp@cenet reveals no patents or published applications in the US or PCT to any “arguello, f” that would match our hero. Why am I not surprised?

  13. Chris Hickie says:

    This is probably just word play, but Avastin and atavistic–to my brain–sound similar enough that I could imagine people being fooled by the similarity–at least enough to get them in the door for this SCAMming.

    1. Sawyer says:

      I’d wager that’s just a coincidence. The central mechanism of Dr. Frank’s treatment really does seem to revolve around some poorly conceived notions of what an atavism is, so it seems plausible to me he just picked the most obvious name.

  14. Lisa R. says:

    I found some concerning things about the doctor himself.

    http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Arguello-Brothers-Associates/Frederick-Maryland-21703/Arguello-Brothers-Associates-Frank-Arguello-Frank-Arguello-unethical-hot-tempered-vio-600151

    You never know with these ripoff reports things. I’ve seen some that don’t have any basis and the website refuses to take them down. But his response below the claim is worth noting. Claiming ties to the mafia… his response does at least validate the claim that this person was bullied/threatened.

    And, patents are mentioned here in an old CV, but none for anything having to do with atavistic oncology/chemotherapy

    https://web.archive.org/web/20060107070332/http://www.arguellobrothers.com/images/Frank_Arguello_CV1.pdf

    Are these real patents? I don’t know how to look this information up. All of them on the list say pending, filing, or application filed. I tried just googling some of the numbers and the phrases used, but only his CV and a brother’s CV come up. How would one find out if these patents were ever approved?

    1. Chris Hickie says:

      I’m in ripoffreport because someone thought I’d reported them to Child Protective Services. It would have been funny except for the threat of violence against me and my family, which earned it a police report.

    2. Derek Freyberg says:

      There are two types of numbers there: numbers that start with 60/ and numbers that start with ER and end with US.
      The 60/xxx,xxx numbers represent provisional patent applications, which last one year and provide basis (priority) for a regular nonprovisional patent application if filed within the year. Provisional applications are non-public, so not searchable UNLESS a regular application is filed claiming the basis of the provisional, in which case the provisional becomes available when the regular application publishes. So none of the provisionals was ever followed by a regular application and they’re all long since dead.
      The ERxxxxxxxxxxxxUS numbers look to me like Express Mail label numbers. Before Web filing (and you can still do it now), people would file patent applications by Express Mail because the Patent & Trademark Office rules says that if you do so, the application is treated as having been filed on the day you put it in the mail.
      Anyway, a further check, this time on the PTO website under published applications using just “arguello” as the inventor name, found only two medically-related patents and neither was to Frank Arguello.

    3. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      Keep in mind that patents only protect an idea, they do not prove it works. The patent office has a list of ideas they will never approve (perpetual motion machines being the only one I can think of) but they never, ever test any of the devices or ideas for effectiveness.

  15. Frederick says:

    Did the Sith Lords cloned Burzynski or what? Burzinsky even look more “real” than this guy ( I’m NOT saying Burzinsky is not bad). When you have to run your clinic in mexico, it does not bode well for any patients.

    If treating cancer was as simple as using anti-bacterial and anti-fungus, does he really think pharmaceuticals would continue to spend that much money on new and better cancer drugs? Instead they would be continuing to sell their old drugs, drugs that their research expenses are paid for a long time now, at high price and cash in.

    yet Another Sith Lord Doctor that prey on desperate people.

  16. ModerateSceptic says:

    A moderate amount of scepticism in health and medical research is an excellent thing; it prevents us from being duped by charm merchants and other snake-oil salesmen. However, excessive scepticism merely blinds us to new ideas, and I think the author is definitely leaning in this direction.
    In my field (environmental science) our preferred research method is to experiment and gather data, and use the results to build a model that describes the process or attribute you’re researching. This is a data-driven model and is analogous to the extensive clinical trials of medical research. However, in environmental science we rarely have the funding or the time to run the studies and trials we need — so we comb the literature, talk to people who work in the same field and use our best informed professional knowledge to build a model that we think will work. This is an expert-opinion model. Wherever possible, we gather data to refine, improve or even disprove the model — but it acts as a starting point when you don’t have enough information for a data-driven model.
    IMHO – and I have read Dr Arguello’s book, which the author has not — Dr Arguello has done just this. Realizing that conventional chemotherapy will not cure the majority of metastasized (Stage IV) cancers, and in fact provides little increase in expected lifespan over no treatment at all [references available] he has drawn up a new model which may provide new insight as to how cancers work and how they could be attacked. (It’s not as simplistic as just using an antibiotic; read the book.) Sure, a data-driven model would be better, but funding for extensive clinical trials is not exactly freely available, and there are many Stage IV cancer patients who don’t have the 5-10 years that it would take to develop one. “Barb Juniper” is one of them, and is probably not sorry that Dr Arguello didn’t wait.
    This is not to say that I would advocate quack remedies for those who are suffering with Stage IV cancers and have no hope with mainstream treatments — but I was advised by a well-respected “traditional” oncologist that, while he did not necessarily subscribe to Dr Arguello’s views, he was not a quack. The author is happy to state that he doesn’t agree with the atavistic hypothesis (though I notice he was short on details to refute it) — but if you were given a choice between certain death within a few months, versus a possible reprieve with a plausible but largely untested hypothesis, which would you choose? Yes, “Barb Juniper” is a human guinea pig — but her original prognosis said she’d be dead by now, and she’s very much alive.

    1. David Gorski says:

      If what is in Dr. Arguello’s book resembles what’s on his website and on his videos, I’m on quite firm ground from a scientific standpoint dismissing it. I rather suspect that, like so many quack treatments, a lot of window dressing on a scientifically bankrupt idea. I also note that the links I provide go into more detail why the atavistic hypothesis of cancer is not a good one and why it has been abandoned by oncologists. Perhaps the most critical reasons are that the atavistic hypothesis makes no predictions and suggests no treatments that existing hypotheses already make. As for being “short on details to refute it,” be careful what you ask for. You might just get it in a future post.

      In particular, as a scientist and, more importantly, as a physician, I am offended by the lack of transparency of Dr. Arguellos’ treatments. He doesn’t tell what drugs he gives other than vague mutterings of general classes, doses, sequence, or rationale. Then he issues this ridiculous challenge, which is not how science works.

      You have failed to persuade me.

    2. Windriven says:

      ” “Barb Juniper” is a human guinea pig — but her original prognosis said she’d be dead by now, and she’s very much alive.”

      And this means … what? That Arguellos cured her? That the prognosis was wrong? That she spontaneously had a remission? That the initial diagnosis was incorrect?

      N=1 doesn’t tell us much. N=1 with a murky treatment plan tells nothing at all.

    3. Andrey Pavlov says:

      In my field (environmental science) our preferred research method is to experiment and gather data, and use the results to build a model that describes the process or attribute you’re researching.

      Indeed. And the problem is that there is a vast amount of data which clearly shows that the atavistic cancer idea is simply untenable. We aren’t blind to new ideas. We are always happy to have new and even profoundly iconoclastic ideas sway us. But this is not an example of our blindness but yours – you are blind to the decades of research and thought that have shown atavism to be like N-rays… non existent.

    4. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      In my field (environmental science) our preferred research method is to experiment and gather data, and use the results to build a model that describes the process or attribute you’re researching.

      If somebody came to you, who wasn’t an environmental scientist and didn’t know what an ecological niche was, and claimed they could produce a sponge that could soak up toxins in an environment but release all the healthy substances, and restore ecosystems to a pristine state, but never conducted any research to prove this fact – would you believe them? Perhaps the error is that you fail to grasp the complexities of the field, and fail to understand what we already know about cancer.

      Also, your extremely condescending reply implies strongly, very very strongly actually, that somehow oncologists don’t “experiment and gather data”. How do you think they came to understand that cancer is due to undifferentiated cellular division, divine inspiration?

      he has drawn up a new model which may provide new insight as to how cancers work and how they could be attacked

      That’s delightful and all – models are great. But selling a book that promotes an unproven treatment, and providing that treatment for a fee, makes him an asshole, a quack and a grasping, greedy shithead taking advantage of dying cancer patients. While current treatments for stage-IV cancer are generally palliative rather than curative, that doesn’t mean that the alternative offered by a quack with an idea, a lot of references and a filled appointment book is an actual cure. Curing cancer is hard. Fucking hard. And Arguello doesn’t want to do the hard work of actually proving that his approach works before he charges people for it. Why on Earth would you claim his blandishments are worth any time for someone who has very little left?

      versus a possible reprieve with a plausible but largely untested hypothesis, which would you choose?

      I wouldn’t empty out my bank account and waste my time travelling to Mexico. I would ideally want my death to provide benefit by being part of a clinical trial.

      Yes, “Barb Juniper” is a human guinea pig — but her original prognosis said she’d be dead by now, and she’s very much alive.

      What about all the other peopel who by their original prognosis should be dead by now and are actually dead? Have you looked into their testimonials?

      And that’s why testimonials and anecdotes are worthless. You have no idea how many people died of cancer for Barb Juniper to be held up as an example of a cure.

  17. ModerateSceptic says:

    You’re right, of course, in that n=1 doesn’t tell us much. Anecdotal evidence doesn’t prove anything — but as someone who’s *always* working with insufficient time and insufficient data, I often use anecdotal evidence to point me in a direction that I think will be worth investigating further. There are a number of cases on the clinic’s website that make me think, okay, one might be a fluke but here’s several; maybe I should check into this a bit more.
    I also happen to agree that the clinic’s website is pretty superficial. I would like to know how many cases he’s treated and what percentage have gone into remission. What’s the median survival time, compared to the survival time of patients treated by conventional chemotherapy? But, you know, I think I’ll just ask him.

    1. MadisonMD says:

      Why don’t you ask what the treatment is. That is an even more fundamental question.

    2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      I often use anecdotal evidence to point me in a direction that I think will be worth investigating further.

      Great. Here is a list, off the top of my head, of things that are supported with anecdotal evidence, of curing cancer. Keeping in mind, of course, that each item actually represents potentially thousands of individual “diseases”, as cancer isn’t a unitary entity. Please let us know which form of treatment is most promising and should have more research effort put into it:
      - antineoplastons
      - homeopathy
      - acupuncture
      - chiropractic spinal manipulation
      - massage
      - megadoses of vitamin A
      - megadoses of vitamin B1
      - megadoses of vitamin B2
      - megadoses of vitamin B6
      - megadoses of vitamin B12
      - megadoses of vitamin C
      - megadoses of vitamin D
      - megadoses of vitamin E
      - megadoses of vitamin K
      - ultra-low calorie diets
      - ketogenic diets
      - fruitarianism
      - bretharianism
      - herbal supplements
      - aspirin
      - baking soda
      - “live” water
      - “alkaline” water
      - naturopathy (as a field)
      - prayer
      - complete avoidance of all fruit sugars
      - detoxification by bowel
      - detoxification by blood
      - detoxification by breath
      - detoxification by emesis
      - detoxification by skin
      - cupping
      - moxibustion
      - applied kinesiology
      - removal of dental amalgams
      - elimination of gluten from the diet
      - colloid silver
      - coffee enemas
      - hyperbaric chambers
      - ozone therapy
      - heavy metal chelation
      - psychic surgery
      - Ayurvedic medicine
      - shark cartilage
      - meditation
      - biofeedback
      - imagery
      - faith and begorrah
      - encounter groups
      - therapy
      - group therapy
      - art therapy
      - reiki
      - therapeutic touch
      - exercise

      And that’s just off the top of my head. That’s not even going into anecdotal evidence for unapproved drugs.

      Maybe we shouldn’t just take at his word the opinion of every asshole with a website and a book.

    3. KayMarie says:

      You know, no other researcher in no other area of science looks at observational data to help form a hypothesis?

      Um, OK. However you have to look at the quality of the anecdotes compared with others. Often the best ones that lead the farthest are the observations made systematically or as part of a controlled experiment.

      And you have to consider the source of the anecdotes. Far too many testimonials on websites used to market something are not good quality observational data, so tend to rank low on the list of things used to decide which direction one’s research should go next.

  18. Marilyn Lotton says:

    I was interested in your article on Dr. Frank Arguello. My 35 year old daughter has stage IV Melanoma and is fighting for her life. Sometime ago I contacted him and I did not care for some of his, almost threatening emails. My daughter’s oncologist calls him a quack. I was wondering if you have heard of Dr. Stephen Cantrell, who has a cancer treatment centre near Nashville Tennessee, I believe it is called Neoplas or something like that. Any opinion on his treatment? He claims he cured himself of Melanoma. I would be interested in hearing from you.

    1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      Looks like he combines lovastatin and interferon, off-label, and charges people for the privilege of being involved in an off-label clinical trial. Looks like he’s very kind but can’t actually deliver.

      I’m sorry to say he seems like a garden-variety quack to me, a search on pubmed turns up some preliminary results but nothing by Cantrell himself. He’s even been on Oz’s show, which is a mark against him in my book.

      No matter what he’s doing, it’s unethical and greedy. If he’s got a cure for cancer, he’s selling it for money and keeping it out of the public arena where it could be popularized and help millions. If he doesn’t, he’s just fleecing the dying. If he wants my respect* he’ll get off his ass and study it properly, reporting out in the peer reviewed literature.

      *I very much doubt he would want it or care, doubtless because he’s too busy counting his money.

    2. MadisonMD says:

      I’m sorry to hear about your daughter, Ms. Lotton. Unfortunately, cancer patients are often desperate, and make easy targets for people looking for easy targets. This is nothing new. Wikipedia has accumulated dozens of these schemes dating back decades and includes a 1930 Public Health Poster with advice that is sage today: “A reputable physician does not promise a cure, demand advance payment, advertise.” So the bad news is that anyone who promises cure is lying, no matter how much we would want it to be true.

      The good news is that after decades of failures, much progress has been made in the treatment of melanoma over the past few years (though not, under ordinary circumstances*, cure for Stage IV). I am sure your daughter’s physician is aware of ipilumimab, nivolumab, as well as BRAF inhibitors (for BRAF+ melanoma). These are far more effective than interferon (which was developed in the 1990′s and is barely effective) and lovastatin (which is not known to be effective for treating melanoma; it is an old cholesterol medicine that was tested to prevent melanoma but failed to do so.

      Moreover, there are many new agents being developed with far more promise than interferon and lovastatin, and if accepted into a clinical trial, your daughter would not be required to pay for the medicine. You should share your questions/concerns with your doctor but if you want another opinion, your best bet is to contact your nearest NCI Cancer Center to get a second opinion.

    3. MadisonMD says:

      I just looked more into Cantrell. He does not seem reputable. He is an MD trained in maxillofacial surgery and has no training in oncology. His anecdote that he cured himself is not convincing. He makes the claim on his website that:

      As of early August 2014, our successful response rates in human patients have been as follows.
      Malignant melanoma All patients, 81% (13 of 16) / Patients with stage 4 or 3c disease, 79% (11 of 14)

      What you see here are (a) some very small numbers; (b) a lack of transparency about how response was determined, verified or audited (There are very specific standardized criteria used in oncology and even with the criteria there can be discrepancies between observers.) Also he has never subjected these data to peer review as he does not publish scientifically. (Hence if he had “the cure,” which he doesn’t, this would be a severe breech of ethics to not share the results so that others might benefit).

      His website also says:

      We do not bill insurance companies or other third parties directly nor do we allow them to dictate our fees, and our office staff cannot serve as your insurance liaison. We provide services directly to you and payment for services is your responsibility.

      So your daughter would be on the hook for any fees he charges, which are not likely to be fully reimbursed by insurance. Very very few reputable physicians do this.

      Interestingly, he seems to be a bit shady in finance as well. See this:

      Several investment products may be available with varying degrees of risk and return potential. The minimum investment amount is $10,000 USD for a product offering excellent return potential and a no-loss guarantee…

      Hmmm…. An investment with a no loss guarantee from an oncology clinic run by a maxillofacial surgeon. Could this be too good to be true?

    4. Farrah says:

      You are absolutely correct about Dr. Arguello’s threatening emails. I used to work for him for several months until I could take it no longer. When he communicates with his patients, he is holding himself back. He doesn’t do that with his employees at all. He has a terrible temper and gets unreasonably angry over the slightest perceived problems. He also speaks badly of his patients to his employees, which I find very sad. It is a shame. He claims to want to cure cancer and help people, but his demeanor and behavior show otherwise.

      1. Ha,ha, ha, sure you did work for me !! You are another fictitious character. I do not have employees!!

        1. Windriven says:

          “I do not have employees!!”

          No, you use freelancers. A distinction with mostly financial differences.

  19. David,

    I just became aware yesterday that in the piece of trash you wrote on the science of atavistic oncology and therapy, and those other clones you have in the net, that you question the images of the CT-scans of the patient Barb with melanoma brain metastases, before and after her treatment. You compare me to Dr. Brusinsky or whatever his name is, and you say that the sections are not at the same level to compare.

    It is obvious that you do not have any clinical experience what so ever to understand that it would be impossible to have identical sections from one CT-scan to another. The position of the patient varies from one CT-scan to another, and the technician or institution doing the exam changes from one CT-scan to another. So, we know about all these variations. Despite that, we can compare one CT-scan with another by approximation of the locations of each section.

    Also, you lack of clinical experience and knowledge to know that the median survival time for a person diagnosed with melanoma brain metastases is of only 3.5 months. This patient has 9 months and without evidence of active brain metastases. Similar to the many other cases in my gallery.

    I just linked the full reports of all the CT-scans for that patient and others with melanomas since a public challenge is in effect. Barb had a MRI done last week and images and report posted too.

    I just wish you were, if not more knowledgeable, at least an honest person. But, there is no doubt in my mind that you are a malicious and deceitful human being. How can you criticize my work without the full knowledge of the reports? If you do not see them, ask for them. You do not even mention a single reference to back up your unqualified and deceitful comments.

    Just by looking at your self-created Wikipedia biography, one can know the class of crook you are, posting yourself as “Professor” when you are an Assistant Professor. The lowest rank after decades there studying the genetic material of fruit flies. Just see your portrait picture of you in your website. Who in the medical world post a picture of oneself walking and looking in another direction? Are you a movie star David?

    You are a sick man David. You must be sick. It is a malady known as Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

    Defined as follows:

    Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance and a deep need for admiration. Those with narcissistic personality disorder believe that they’re superior to others and have little regard for other people’s feelings. But behind this mask of ultra-confidence lies a fragile self-esteem due to lack of accomplishments.

    I should add, that they have total disregard of truthfulness, as long as they appear as the authority or judge.

    Again David, you do not have the qualifications to judge a work of this magnitude. Simply, you do not have clinical experience and knowledge on this matter. More importantly, you are not qualified because you are not an honest person. You distort facts to your advantage, and do not have a scientific mind to back up your statements with scientific literature.

    Sincerely,

    Frank Arguello, MD
    Atavistic Oncology Clinic
    http://www.AtavisticChemotherapy.com
    Former Assistant Professor of Oncology,
    and Pediatrics, Hematology and Oncology,
    University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry.
    Rochester, New York USA.
    Former Senior Scientist,
    Division of Cancer Treatment & Diagnosis,
    National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health.
    Frederick, Maryland USA.

    1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      Also, you lack of clinical experience and knowledge to know that the median survival time for a person diagnosed with melanoma brain metastases is of only 3.5 months. This patient has 9 months and without evidence of active brain metastases. Similar to the many other cases in my gallery.

      What does the word “median” mean? How might that definition help us interpret the survival of someone past the “median” time?

      How many patients have you treated who have died before 3.5 months?

      Do you have a gallery of people who undertook your treatment and died? Or has every single patient you have ever posted a picture of survived? Do you take down the pictures of people who die, or keep them up with a note saying when they died? Can you link to your page with all the testimonials of failed efforts at treatment?

      William Utridge
      Former Boy Scout
      Once Took A Course in CPR
      Owned a Toyota

  20. Dr. Arguello’s Invitation to Witness the Regression of a Stage IV Melanoma.

    Copy and Paste URL:

    http://sendmb2.com/clients/drarguello/4thcampaignFA01102014.html

    1. MadisonMD says:

      Why not just publish your results in a peer reviewed journal like everyone else? Like you did back when you were Assistant Professor?

      1. Perhaps it has not been published because this work involves patent fillings which have been submitted, and one requirement for a patent to be granted is that the information has not been published before.

        But academic institutions or cancer organizations could obtain that information via confidentiality agreements. I would like that to happen, so that a large organization takes over my work.

        Believe me; dealing with postings like this by Gorski and all the above comments, characterized by ignorance, envy, hatred, etc, it is truly frustrating and disheartening. Mainly because of the serious work, financial sacrifices and personal compromises I made to reach this point. Frank

        “Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.”

        Albert Einstein

        1. Windriven says:

          Really? I’ve checked the USPTO patent applications database using in/arguello and came up dry unless you have a secret first name and disguised your application with a title such as “Temperature-compensated Voltage Comparator.” Pretty sneaky, Frankie.

          So … what’s the application number? And, you know, when you file a patent you have to disclose what you’re doing. The cat is out of the bag. So why not publish? Or have you tried and failed? Just wondering.

          You seem to be good at marketing. But so far not much available to judge how you are at medicine or research.

        2. Windriven says:

          “Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.”

          Albert Einstein

          “Charlatans and dumbasses encounter violent opposition from educated minds.”

          Windriven

        3. Mike says:

          Once you file the patent, you get your filing date, so you do not lose patent rights if you then publish the contents of the application.

          The USPTO generally automatically publishes patent applications 18 months after filing.

        4. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          Perhaps it has not been published because this work involves patent fillings which have been submitted, and one requirement for a patent to be granted is that the information has not been published before.

          Perhaps? Why the coy phrasing? Has it, or has it not? Are you incapable of clearly and honestly discussing your own activities, or is it for some reason necessary to maintain a perpetual state of plausible deniability?

          But academic institutions or cancer organizations could obtain that information via confidentiality agreements. I would like that to happen, so that a large organization takes over my work.

          I must again ask – why? Why not simply research whether your treatment works before selling it to people? Is it because you are more interested in making money than saving lives?

          Believe me; dealing with postings like this by Gorski and all the above comments, characterized by ignorance, envy, hatred, etc, it is truly frustrating and disheartening.

          What I find frustrating and disenheartening is that someone can take desperate, scared people, dying of cancer, and foist upon them an unproven treatment, based on a scientifically-implausible theory, and charge them money for it. Your actions are contemptible, both morally and scientifically.

          “Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.”

          Albert Einstein

          Two points:

          1) Al’s theories were rigorously tested and found to be correct; further, he did massive amounts of theoretical work that was convincing enough to lead researchers to subject his theories to empirical tests. So before you start wanking off about how you are a great but persecuted mind, maybe put in the time and effort, and stop charging patients money.

          2) The true test of the value of a scientific theory is not the degree of opposition – it’s the degree to which it produces testable predictions that hold up empirically. I don’t think you’ve produced any real testable predictions, and I certainly don’t think you’ve actually tested any of them.

  21. BCM says:

    The above invitation to “Witness the Regression of a Stage IV Melanoma (a cure?)” appeared in my University of Tennessee Biochemistry & Cellular & Molecular Biology mailbox this afternoon and my first reaction was to check your Science-Based Medicine Blog to see what you had to say about this guy. I consider the e-mail to be spam and wonder just how many university/med center e-mail lists around the globe were accessed.

    1. Perhaps it has not been published because this work involves patent fillings which have been submitted, and one requirement for a patent to be granted is that the information has not been published before.

      But academic institutions or cancer organizations could obtain that information via confidentiality agreements. I would like that to happen, so that a large organization takes over my work.

      Believe me; dealing with postings like this by Gorski and all the above comments, characterized by ignorance, envy, hatred, etc, it is truly frustrating and disheartening. Mainly because of the serious work, financial sacrifices and personal compromises I made to reach this point. Frank

      “Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.”

      Albert Einstein

      1. Harriet Hall says:

        Great spirits have always acted with humanity. If a great spirit had a cure for cancer, he’d be doing everything possible to share it with the world, not filing patents to maintain exclusive ownership for profit.

      2. Angora Rabbit says:

        “Perhaps it has not been published because this work involves patent fillings which have been submitted, and one requirement for a patent to be granted is that the information has not been published before.”

        Not true and not correct. As someone who successfully received a biomedical patent, and as Mike said, you only need to file before public presentation of the results. Once filed, publish away. However, if you’ve been presenting the findings publicly, then that is prior disclosure. But hasn’t he been touting the results in a manner that would invalidate a filing?

        And Dr. Hall is right also – a real humanitarian and clinician would disseminate to save lives, and patent be damned.

  22. MadisonMD says:

    Big whip, Frankie.

    SBM’s invitation to Witness the Regression of 37 Stage IV Melanomas.
    SBM’s invitation to witness a proven survival benefit from effective scientific medical therapy for Stage IV Melanoma.

    All in the peer-reviewed literature. Top that, and we can talk. Until then, you are blowing smoke.

    1. Based on those results of the paper you are linking above, it is ironic to see that before modern treatments for melanoma were invented in the 1950s, people with metastatic melanoma used to have a better overall survival time of about 36 months without any form of treatment (this is from the time when the patient discovered the lesion or when diagnosed until death). This information drawn from an extended study of 40 melanoma patients between 1910-1924 and others referenced by the authors (https://www.dropbox.com/s/i798kzfrpp78lnb/PrognosisinMaligantMelanoma.pdf?dl=0).

      1. MadisonMD says:

        (1) Why do you compare survival time of early stage with stage IV melanoma and then act surprised it is different?
        (2) Are you aware of the limitations of historical controls?
        (3) And what has this to do with the efficacy of your concoctions?

  23. Windriven says:

    Frankie: “before modern treatments for melanoma were invented in the 1950s, people with metastatic melanoma used to have a better overall survival time of about 36 months”

    Gragoudas, ES, et al in Ophthalmology: “Median survival was 2.0 months for patients receiving no treatment compared with 5.2 months for those receiving treatment for metastases (P = .0001).”

    36 months without treatment in the 50′s. 2 months without treatment now. What up with that, Frankie? I guess people were made of tougher stuff 60-odd years ago, huh? Or, Heisenberg-like, is it just the observation that modern treatments exist that has peeled 34 months off the life expectancy?

    Or maybe you’re comparing apples and casaba melons?

    1. Windriven says:

      Goddammit, I hate the threading at the end of a post. This is intended as a response to Arguello at 23.1 above.

    2. Windriven says:

      Correction: The Gragoudas was from ’91 so the fourth sentence of the penultimate paragraph should have read “I guess people were made of tougher stuff 40-odd years ago, huh?”

    3. Again, ignorance is what dominates this site. Remember, I am a man of science and facts.

      The overall survival time of untreated uveal melanoma was in the same period of 28 months after metastases were detected. Same reference given above, and these of 1980 and 2014 in which the authors caution doctors that treating uveal melanoma (even with surgery) results in an increased rate of metastases and early death.

      Full papers, no abstracts (I have collected all)

      Ref: 1980: https://www.dropbox.com/s/qs163q2hw66xbuy/UntreatedUvealMelanoma.pdf?dl=0

      Ref: 2014: https://www.dropbox.com/s/6fkau6ay19wxks6/Bimodal%20Mortality%20Melanoma.pdf?dl=0

      Any frontal attack on ignorance is bound to fail because the masses are always ready to defend their most precious possession: their ignorance.
      — Hendrik Willem van Loon

      1. Windriven says:

        ” I am a man of science and facts.”

        You are a man of bullsh!t and evasion. Let me quote from your comment at 23.1 above:

        “it is ironic to see that before modern treatments for melanoma were invented in the 1950s, people with metastatic melanoma used to have a better overall survival time of about 36 months without any form of treatment

        Did Batman write that or did you write that?

        Now let me quote again Gragoudas in Ophthalmology: “Median survival was 2.0 months for patients receiving no treatment…”

        36 months untreated in the 20s.
        2 months untreated in 1991.

        What is your explanation for the eighteen-fold difference in survival in untreated populations between the 20s and the 90s?

        “Any frontal attack on ignorance is bound to fail because the masses are always ready to defend their most precious possession: their ignorance.
        — Hendrik Willem van Loon”

        “Douchebags cloak their stupidity in the profundities of others.”
        — Windriven

        1. Well, not only ignorance, but stupidity too.

          That ophthalmology abstract you posted is referring to UVEAL melanoma (INTRAOCULAR MELANOMA). I have just posted 3 full articles above which talk about the duration of life of untreated uveal melanoma totaling hundreds of untreated cases — the median survival is of 28 months after metastases are detected clinically. People with uveal melanoma can live many many years if left undisturbed. That is the point of those articles.

          PLEASE, PLEASE READ THOSE ARTICLES AND DOCUMENT YOURSELF.

          Unquestionably Any frontal attack on ignorance is bound to fail

          1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

            See, this is why you should bring your information to experts. By trying to convince laypeople in the comments section of a blog, what do you accomplish? Why do you not publish your findings in Oncology, or JAMA if they’re so convincing? What do scientific peers have to say about the effectiveness of your treatments?

      2. MadisonMD says:

        I am a man of science and facts.

        If you were, you would publish and would will read and evaluate them. Your actions belie this claim.

      3. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

        Remember, I am a man of science and facts.

        If you’re a man of science and facts, why haven’t you published your facts in the scientific literature?

        Why are you relying on anecdotes rather than controlled studies?

        Any frontal attack on ignorance is bound to fail because the masses are always ready to defend their most precious possession: their ignorance.

        But you’re not making a frontal attack on ignorance. The area we are discussing, oncology, is pretty well developed. Science knows a lot about cancer. You aren’t entering a field of assumptions and assertions. In fact, you are avoiding the very people who would best be able to say whether your treatment is effective or not. You’re selling your book and services directly to patients, rather than engaging with oncologists who could confirm your claims. Why is that? Why avoid the experts in favor of desperate laypeople?

  24. Windriven says:

    ” I have just posted 3 full articles above which talk about the duration of life of untreated uveal melanoma totaling hundreds of untreated cases”

    No moving the goal posts, assh0le. Yes, we are BOTH talking about uveal melanoma. These are your words. Direct quotes that everyone here can go back and look at.

    Frank Arguello: “The overall survival time of untreated uveal melanoma was in the same period of 28 months after metastases were detected.”

    Windriven: “Now let me quote again Gragoudas in Ophthalmology: “Median survival was 2.0 months for patients receiving no treatment…”

    What is your explanation for the difference in survival in untreated populations between the 20s and the 90s?

    “Dweebs and charlatans bob and weave
    They never know when its time to leave
    When you’re looking for an answer straight
    You’re sure as hell gonna have to wait”

    — Windriven Ali

    1. Windriven says:

      Misfire

  25. Windriven says:

    No moving the goal posts, assh0le. Your allegation is that people did better in the 20s without treatment than they do today with treatment.

    Frank Arguello:
    “before modern treatments for melanoma were invented in the 1950s, people with metastatic melanoma used to have a better overall survival time of about 36 months without any form of treatment

    What is your explanation? That modern melanoma treatment kills people faster than the disease? I’m trying to nail you down on fundamentals. Then we can go to the details of uveal and dermal melanomas.

    “Dweebs and charlatans bob and weave
    They never know when its time to leave
    When you’re looking for an answer straight
    You’re sure as hell gonna have to wait”

    — Windriven Ali

    1. The only reason why I am replying is to avoid confusing people with cancer, particularly melanoma (cutaneous or ocular), just in case they read this posts, I hope they never do though, because they will realize how ignorance and stupidity are the driving force behind many of these comments. Starting with the “editor” of the site.

      The figures that this fellow is referring to, are a misunderstanding on him/her part. The study he posted: “Gragoudas, ES, et al in Ophthalmology” (above) involves the study of 145 patients who were treated previously with external radiation to the affected eye due to localized uveal melanoma. Then they followed those patients for years to see if the radiation was delaying the appearance of metastases. Patients later developed metastases in a period of a few weeks to several years. Those who developed metastases, about 70% were treated in some form of chemotherapy by other doctors and survived 5 months in average, A smaller percentage of 30% e were not treated and had an average of 2 months survival. Very likely the untreated patients were very terminal cases which treatment was deemed useless or unnecessary. From there the rapid death.

      However, note that all these patients in that study have been previously treated with radiation. They are not truly untreated uveal melanoma patients. The survival numbers referred by this fellow above have nothing to do with the purpose of the study or the discussion of untreated melanoma. Simply the authors concluded that after radiation, and once metastases developed, their death was fast 5 and 2 months respectively.

      Note that patients with uveal melanomas who were never exposed to any treatment as today’s, patients used to live for years, decades. And once they were diagnosed as having metastases (many years after diagnosis of the primary), they used to survive 28 months with metastatic disease. Reference of 1924 below.

      Ref 1924: https://www.dropbox.com/s/i798kzfrpp78lnb/PrognosisinMaligantMelanoma.pdf?dl=0

      All the above support the arguments made by many others in the past. Current treatments of chemotherapy and radiation reduce survival time of cancer patients. In other words, they are detrimental to patients. Even some surgeries. To avoid listing and listing reference, the reference of 1980 below is a great example of cancer spreading following surgery:

      Ref: 1980: https://www.dropbox.com/s/qs163q2hw66xbuy/UntreatedUvealMelanoma.pdf?dl=0

      The reason why chemotherapy and radiation reduce survival is because they made cancer more aggressive and resistant to treatment as recently documented:

      http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/shock-study-chemotherapy-backfire-cancer-worse-triggering-tumor-growth-article-1.1129897

      From there the need to support people who are working to change this tragic period in medical history.

      1. MadisonMD says:

        The reason why chemotherapy and radiation reduce survival…

        Holy crap. Were you really trained as a pediatric oncologist at UR? What was the survival of pediatric ALL in 1950? What is it now? What intervention cured 87%?

        1. Almost all lymphohematopoietic tumors are benefited, at least in appearance, with conventional chemotherapy. In fact some of them are cured (See below). I say benefited in appearance because many of these patients are left with serious growth and developmental problems (learning disabilities, high incidence of second cancers, fertility issues, etc).

          So, it is quite possible that once cancer is treated correctly, we will look back and say: what a barbaric treatments were using in the late 1900s and 2000s.

          From My website:

          A small population of cancer patients have greatly benefited from, or been cured with, modern anticancer therapies even after their cancers have spread throughout their bodies. These include patients with:

          Germ-cell Tumors

          testicular seminomas
          ovarian dysgerminomas (equivalent to seminoma in girls)
          gestational choriocarcinomas,

          Blood Malignancies

          Hodgkin’s lymphoma
          Burkitt’s lymphoma
          Acute lymphoblastic and promyelocytic leukemia.

          However, of the estimated 200 types of cancer that affect humans, only about 2% of cancers in the USA fall into the categories of cancers which can be eliminated with conventional chemotherapy and radiation. As a matter of fact, of the close to 600,000 deaths that occur each year in the USA, more than 70% of them are due to only 10 types of cancers:

          Lung Cancer (150,000)
          Colon/Rectal Cancer (51,000)
          Breast Cancer (41,000)
          Pancreatic Cancer (37,000)
          Prostate Cancer (32,000)
          Leukemia (22,000)
          Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma (20,000)
          Liver and Bile Duct Cancers (19,000)
          Esophageal Cancer (14,500), and
          Ovarian Cancer (14,000).

          Source: LiveScience
          http://www.livescience.com/11041-10-deadliest-cancers-cure.html

          1. MadisonMD says:

            Hi Frank,
            1. Your claim is inaccurate.
            Your original claim was that radiation and chemotherapy reduce survival.

            Now you retreat to the claim that radiation and chemotherapy improve survival, but only for specific cancers (no kidding, really– we know for example, of a lack of benefit for some cancers). So you are admitting your original claim is inaccurate.

            But your new claim that chemo only improves survival for GCT and heme malignancies still doesn’t match the data. I hope you understand the concept of adjuvant chemotherapy for solid tumors? Here’s just a few examples of the vast body of data you are ignoring, with respect to breast cancer:
            CMF adjuvant chemotherapy improves recurrence-free survival
            CMF adjuvant chemotherapy improves survival
            meta-analysis of 100,000 women in 123 randomized trials shows mortality benefit of chemotherapy (if you want mortality versus no-treated controls, look at Fig 5, bottom).

            But curiously, your endpoints are not survival. Can you explain that? You are asking us to witness “tumor response” not “improved survival” from your therapies? If regression is acceptable to you, I can should you thousands of studies of significant tumor regressions from chemotherapies in all those diseases you list.

            However, of the estimated 200 types of cancer that affect humans, only about 2% of cancers in the USA fall into the categories of cancers which can be eliminated with conventional chemotherapy and radiation.

            Two points:
            1. citation needed*
            2. adjuvant chemotherapy and radiation improves survival for tumors that are eliminated by surgery.

            *Could you please provide pubmed links and links to primary journal articles rather than dropbox and newyork daily news? I mean, you want to be seen as a serious interlocutor, no? (You are close to citing Mikey Adams, and you are actually using some of his talking points– when you cite him your credibility will sink from low to 0)

            1. I think my explanations have been clear, no need to expand. We were disusing solid tumors (melanomas) and all the statements were on that subject.

              All those studies in which you mention breast cancer increased survival, are increased survival comparing with another treatment, not untreated patients.

              The overall average survival time of a breast cancer patient without any treatment (no surgery, nothing) is about 5.5 years, with extremely large range (many cases exceeding 40 years without treatment). From there that breast cancer survival is not measured in 5 years, but in 10 years. Why? because without doing anything a large number of patients should be alive in 5 years.

              For those with high grade histological malignancy is about 3.5 years (without any form of treatment)

              Now, when surgery was done early in the 1800s and first decades of the 1900s, the survival to 10 years was not different than now (close to 90%).

              All the above statements from:

              http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1940185/

              However, me and others have noticed that nowadays many breast cancer patients are developing metastases very soon after surgery. Conclusion, some surgeries if not done really early (cancer 100% in the breast), and cancer cells have escaped the breast the surgery will trigger the grow of those metastases.

              I have tons of articles on this subject (in my dropbox). But the
              article below (2010) is available online. The title says all!!

              Surgery Triggers Outgrowth of Latent Distant Disease in Breast
              Cancer: An Inconvenient Truth?

              http://dash.harvard.edu/bitstream/handle/1/5111463/Retsky_SurgeryTriggers.pdf?sequence=1

              Finally, reduce in size of tumors has been the trick used by pharmaceutical companies to sell. Size of tumor is totally irrelevant. Many people would love to live with tumors the size of oranges in their bodies as long as they had a long and productive life.

              NOTE: A treatment is of benefit only if it improves the anticipated survival time that would result without the treatment, and preferentially that that increased survival period be without, or ameliorated, physical and emotional pain and suffering. At present we do not achieve any of them.

              As you can see, private interests have been keeping thing going this way. Yes oncology is a profitable disease, and it would be great if was not for the fact that it is done with the sacrifice of millions of lives.

              1. About Dropbox. All the articles I have cited via Dropbox is because they are not available online. I have paid to be retrieved and paid for the rights to use them. Many are historical, difficult to find references.

                About references for 2% cancers benefited today, these are the references I used when I published my book (I have them somewhere!!). That was in 2011:

                Bailar, J. D. & Gornik, H. L. Cancer undefeated. N. Engl. J. Med. 336, 1569–1574 (1997).

                Berman, J. J. Neoplasms: Principles of Development and Diversity (Jones and Bartlett, Boston, 2009).

              2. Windriven says:

                “I think my explanations have been clear, no need to expand. ”

                So far as I can see you are constitutionally incapable of clarity. Of obfuscation, of meandering verbiage, of deception, of evasion – oh yes, evasion is a particular specialty – all yes. When a question can be answered in a word, you evade answering it with a paragraph.

              3. MadisonMD says:

                I think my explanations have been clear, no need to expand. We were disusing solid tumors (melanomas) and all the statements were on that subject.

                Bullshit. Anyone can read the above and see that this is a lie.
                You said:

                Current treatments of chemotherapy and radiation reduce survival time of cancer patients. In other words, they are detrimental to patients.

                When I called you on this, you said:

                Almost all lymphohematopoietic tumors are benefited, at least in appearance, with conventional chemotherapy. In fact some of them are cured…

                … and now that I show you data that you are wrong on this point, you claim we were talking about melanoma all along. That is a bunch of BS.

                All those studies in which you mention breast cancer increased survival, are increased survival comparing with another treatment, not untreated patients.

                Bullsh!t again! You didn’t read my cites did you?

                … and anyway, what is the evidence that your concoctions extend survival?

                Why are you showing us ‘tumor regressions?’ I can show you thousands upon thousands of tumor regressions of all types with chemotherapy. Show us improved survival with your concoctions. That’s the bar you are requiring, and that’s what the FDA will be looking for.

                You are just blowing smoke.

      2. Windriven says:

        So Frank, are you going to blow smoke or answer the questions?

        1. Your allegation is that people did better in the 20s without treatment than they do today with treatment. Do I need to copy YOUR words again? What is your explanation? That modern melanoma treatment kills people faster than the disease?

        2. What is the number of the patent application that prevents you from publishing your results in a peer reviewed professional journal?

        You’re masterful at obfuscation. Now time to put up or shut up.

        1. Your #1 Question was already answered above of why current treatments make melanomas worse:

          a) Mechanical spread of the cancer during surgeries in the case of uveal melanomas (enucletion):

          https://www.dropbox.com/s/qs163q2hw66xbuy/UntreatedUvealMelanoma.pdf?dl=0

          b) The reason why chemotherapy and radiation reduce survival is because they made cancer cells more aggressive and stimulate them to grow once they repair the damages made in the DNA:

          http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/shock-study-chemotherapy-backfire-cancer-worse-triggering-tumor-growth-article-1.1129897

          Question #2 How many patents……….

          We are working with about 10 versions, possibly end up with three granted. Please note that my treatment have been given for free (my time and medicines) to 90% of the patients treated (patients from Mexico, Slovenia, Greece, Canada and USA). It has been until recently that I started to charge to people who can afford to do that. Mainly to keep me and my family alive. I have been financing my work for 3 years. No grants are given to projects that get out of the box.

          The patents will never be enforceable. I was suggested to do it, only to protect the credit of this work. Simply, a large clinic in any country with large population of cancer patients could take the information from any publication, perfect the system or change it to avoid traces of my work, and get the credit. I would be done (left in the dust).

          The patents filings will help me to protect my work and intellectual property by allowing me to force the academic or cancer organization to keep me in the loop if they wish to take me work. I need help, from there the call for demonstration. I cannot continue alone. I hope this makes sense.

          Unfortunately, postings like these, in this site and clones that Gorsik has around, only demoralize me and my patients. However, it is unavoidable. Humans are involved. No other animal species do what human do their fellow human beings. Despite that, there are also great things that humans do for other humans. No too many of those, but yes they are around us!!

          1. Windriven says:

            You really are a piece of work, Arguello. You have not answered question 1 or question 2.

            Question 1: You allege that people did better in the 20′s WITHOUT TREATMENT than they do today. what is your explanation? that should be 1 or 2 sentences.

            Question 2: What is the patent application number for the patent that you claim to be seeking that prevents you from publishing in the peer reviewed literature? the only answer here is one or more patent filing identification numbers. no narrative required.

            I’m not interested in your smoke and mirrors – only in two simple answers to two simple questions. No grandstanding, no puffery, no bullsh!t, just two simple answers. You can’t do it, can you?

      3. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

        The only reason why I am replying is to avoid confusing people with cancer, particularly melanoma (cutaneous or ocular), just in case they read this posts, I hope they never do though, because they will realize how ignorance and stupidity are the driving force behind many of these comments. Starting with the “editor” of the site.

        If you really care about people with cancer, why not publish your results in the peer-reviewed literature so it can help thousands of people, rather than the mere dozens that you can convince to shell out money out of pocket ot pay for your treatments in Mexico? If you are correct and your treatments can cure cancer, by publishing well-controlled studies you will ensure that your approach is adopted rapidly, world-wide, by all oncologists dealing with these specific cancers. It will become standard of care.

        Why are you wasting your time in a comments section rather than churning out RCTs and articles? Why assert your treatments work based on anecdotes rather than proving they work by comparing them against current standard of care?

  26. As you can see above, this is what David Gorski has been fomenting and creating with his websites- baseless science, ignorance and stupidity. Any frontal attack on those is bound to fail. I am done!

    1. MadisonMD says:

      You are done, yes, because you cannot back up your claims with evidence. Evidence is the currency for discussion here on SBM.

      I showed that your claim that chemotherapy shortens survival of breast cancer to be wrong by citing New England Journal of Medicine and analyses of >100,000 cancer patients in 123 randomized trials. So the irony is high when you claim this to be ‘baseless science’ or ignorant. That is the action of a cancer quack, ignorant of 40 years of cancer science, who chooses to wave it away with ad hominem when it does not support his claims.

    2. Windriven says:

      ” I am done!”

      Two simple questions.

      ” I am done!”

      What is the patent application number?

      “baseless science, ignorance and stupidity!”

      You allege that people did better in the 20′s WITHOUT TREATMENT than they do today. what is your explanation? that should be 1 or 2 sentences.

      “ignorance and stupidity are the driving force behind many of these comments!”

      Frank Arguello: I am done!

      Windriven: With what? You still haven’t given a straight answer to either question. All out of dance steps?

  27. Windriven says:

    A note to those following this thread, now that Arguello has gone: I wanted Arguello to address the differences in populations and in the approach to diagnosis and confirmation between the small 1920 study and the more recent studies. This was, to my mind, a rather obvious flaw in his reasoning.

    I made a number of errors of my own in baiting him and, had he called me on them directly, I would have acknowledged them. I am thankful that MadisonMD participated in this thread. I would have gotten much further over my head had he not been.

    Most importantly, I wanted Arguello to acknowledge that there is no patent and there is no patent application. Protecting his IP is Arguellos argument for not submitting his work to peer reviewed professional journals. But this argument fails in two ways. First, under current patent law, the first filer has tremendous advantage over a later filer, even if the later filer can demonstrate that she discovered the IP first. So it would be entirely in Arguello’s interest to get a patent filed. But I can find no record of such filing in the USPTO application database. Second, in making the filing the filer must perforce disclose the substance of the IP. That being done there would be nothing to prevent Arguello from publishing in the professional literature.

    A third problem that struck me in writing this – and I am no more a patent attorney than I am a cancer specialist – is, as I understand current law, it is difficult to patent IP if the idea is introduced into commerce prior to the patent application. Arguello, it might be argued, is “selling” his alleged treatment and that could, in my understanding, prejudice his ability to earn a patent.

    Finally, I took a belligerent approach to Arguello for two reasons, to rattle him – and it appears that I did , and because I abhor those who peddle miracles to vulnerable people. If Arguello had a stream of well-regarded studies in the professional press he wouldn’t need the protection of a patent. As the originator of a breakthrough treatment for cancer, patients would be lined up down the block from his front door. Instead, he looks to me for all the world like a Burzhinsky clone, far more interested in the health of his bank account than anything else.

    1. MadisonMD says:

      Patent law has changed:
      (1) First to file takes precedence. Nobody can invalidate patent by demonstrating prior discovery. That means if Arguello filed a patent, then his IP would be protected, period. No reason to hide information because the filing itself is a public disclosure.
      (2) New use patents are quite restrictive. If he is mixing up a bunch of FDA approved drugs for other purposes, this is likely not patentable.

      #2 explains why there is no patent.

      1. Windriven says:

        Interesting that he continues to flog that mule. Presumably he understands this. One can only conclude that it was a smoke screen.

  28. jsterritt says:

    What could be more contemptible than a cancer quack peddling false hope? Maybe someone who knows how to cure cancer, but won’t tell anyone, because he must protect his personal glory and gain. Arguello is BOTH of these most despicable of things. He even uses his knows-but-won’t-tell @ssholery to defend his peddling-false-hope charlatanism. That’s pretty close to saying to the judge: I couldn’t have robbed the bank that day, I was busy blowing up the orphanage!

    Of course, Arguello no more knows how to cure (or treat) cancer than he knows how to provide evidence in support of his wild claims, answer direct questions, or comport himself with a modicum of dignity. He’s just another tricky dick selling secret snake oil.

    Dr Gorski: PLEASE do a follow-up on this train wreck. Arguello is just so target-rich! Despite all his personal sacrifices and all his complaining about other treatment modalities, it seems his Nobel is slow in coming. Another good dressing down on SBM seems like the perfect way to honor his contributions to the field of BS and self-regard.

  29. AN INVITATION TO WITNESS A NEW, HUMANE AND EFFECTIVE TREATMENT FOR CANCER

    I am inviting the public and the medical community to follow the case of a patient in Canada with multiple metastases in the lymph nodes, lungs, liver and spleen from a rapidly growing malignant melanoma which has failed to respond to conventional treatments.

    The challenge consists of using my atavistic chemotherapy and immunotherapy to treat that patient, resulting in a complete clinical remission of that cancer in six months. He is now finishing his second month of treatment and the first results will be posted ~October 20, 2014.

    This is my third patient with an advanced, stage IV melanoma, treated with atavistic chemotherapy and immunotherapy, and also described in detail in the gallery of clinical cases.

    Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, killing an estimated 9,710 people in the US annually. Patients with visceral metastases, such as in the liver, and central nervous system involvement and/or elevated LDH levels have a median survival time of 3–4 months, whereas those with lung metastases have a median survival time of 8 months [Reference: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7670677.

    For details of this public challenge follow this URL:

    http://m8on.r.mailjet.com/nl/m8on/l.html?a=1flFunBLOX&b=bcd8d52c&c=m8on&d=8533d3e8&e=8f34a7bf&email=arguellof@atavisticchemotherapy.com

    Thank you for your interest in this new and revolutionary form of understanding and treating cancer.

    Frank Arguello, MD
    Atavistic Oncology Clinic
    http://www.AtavisticChemotherapy.com
    Former Assistant Professor of Oncology,
    and Pediatrics, Hematology and Oncology,
    University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry.
    Rochester, New York USA.
    Former Senior Scientist,
    Division of Cancer Treatment & Diagnosis,
    National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health.
    Frederick, Maryland USA.

    1. jsterritt says:

      Would somebody explain to me how this “challenge” is anything more than Arguello’s treatment of a patient put on public display? It is gruesome and odious. I can understand case histories having value in the scientific literature, but “public” displays of quackery with no previous preclinical or properly conducted trials — essentially in a science- and evidence-free vacuum — seems exploitive and cruel. Of what possible benefit can the “publicness” be except to Arguello? With every addition of anecdote and hucksterism, Arguello subtracts from any scientific legitimacy his “secret therapy” has (and he’s already in the red). Where are the ethics boards?

      1. Woo Fighter says:

        I posted on Dr. Gorski’s super-secret other blog that his “invitations” remind me of a carnival barker in a red and white striped jacket calling out to the crowd “step right up, see the amazing …”

        He treats his patients like sideshow exhibits. I only hope he reduces his ridiculous fees for the clients who allow themselves to be used in his shady marketing campaigns.

        1. Pettie Pie says:

          So the guy gives you a real live case study, and you continue to berate him?

          Do you want to know whether his stuff works or not?

          It seems that’s not so important around here.

          1. simba says:

            Case studies don’t tell you whether something works or not. That is the entire point of the discussion around this. If he was willing to actually, honestly, test what works or not (systematically) we wouldn’t be discussing him.

          2. Windriven says:

            Pettie Pie, there is an established method for presenting new approaches in medicine: publishing results in a peer reviewed journal where other experts can examine the study design, the results, the statistical analyses. This points up weaknesses and flaws that can be corrected and the new therapy refined. Or, if there is nothing there, discarded.

            Medical therapies are not hit and miss affairs where a lonely person sits in their basement lab and tries stuff till something works. There is a broad, if not yet entirely deep, undrstanding of human physiology. Therapies that have no prior plausibility – that is they depart from what is known about human physiology or other scientific principles – need to present very strong evidence of their efficacy.

            This method saves untold zillions of dollars and unmeasured morbidity and death, by not exposing sick people to untested and potentially dangerous therapies.

            So before we want to know ‘how this stuff works’ we first want to know if there is any reason to believe that this stuff works. And so should you.

          3. MadisonMD says:

            Do you want to know whether his stuff works or not?

            I may already know that it does work. Non-chemotherapy treatments are already known to shrink melanoma. For all we know, these agents are being given to the patients.

            If FA has a new treatment that might work, there is an established paradigm to demonstrate this. Individuals who don’t use this usually have a reason– i.e. it is easier to put anecdotes before the public than to carefully assemble them into a case study, use that to open and enroll in a non-randomized trial to learn what % of patients have good tumor responses and what % have toxicity from treatment. If these data look promising, there are national groups that would be happy to collaborate on a controlled trial to see if the treatment makes people live longer (not just shrink tumors– which is a surrogate marker for living longer).

          4. KayMarie says:

            Probably piling on, but what he’s presenting doesn’t really show if it works or not.

            If he was really interested in scientifically proving it works he’d be doing actual science rather than how much attention can he get for his showmanship.

            I wanna prove something I get a grant which goes through peer review that ensures I have enough evidence to show there is some reason to believe it could work and I have an experimental design with enough people in it to have enough statistical power and controls so I’m not just fooling myself or getting lucky that the person I picked is a fluke (which happens regularly if not in every study, but often enough that a known percentage of n =1 (case studies) or n = low number are going to be completely spurious and meaningless results). Then I will publish my results in the highest impact journal that is appropriate for the results and go to scientific meetings to present my results all of which are peer reviewed and critiqued by my fellow experts.

            I don’t go tweeting everyone on twitter that comes up when I put melanoma or cancer in the search function. That is the kind of thing people seeking attention do.

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