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Questionable Treatments

Are all unproven treatments questionable?


Just because a treatment is unproven does not mean it is questionable. Responsible, controlled experimentation enables cancer researchers to try new approaches and to prove (or disprove) their effectiveness. Clinical trials are the medically accepted way to conduct this research with patients.


How is a questionable treatment different from a clinical trial?


Unlike clinical trials, questionable cancer treatments have not been evaluated in the laboratory, evaluated thoroughly for side effects and complications, or tested by other medically accepted standards. Nor have they been published or reviewed by scientists and/or clinicians, or shown to have any real value in the treatment of cancer. The patient may not be accurately informed about the nature of treatment or its effects. The treatment may even be more harmful than beneficial.


What are some examples of questionable cancer treatments?


Questionable methods include:  laetriale, fetal cell transplants, electronic “black box” treatment, herbal concoctions, mega-vitamin therapies, faith or psychic healing, and mental imagery.  Consumer protection laws require that any medication or device used to treat any disease must be proven safe and effective before it is marketed.


How can I decide if a cancer treatment is valid?


Beware if two or more of the following clues are present:

  • The treatment is promoted as a “secret cure”;
  • Only one treatment center or a select few physicians offer the cure;
  • The treatment is promoted through glossy, expensive advertising or sold in fancy packaging;
  • It is not available in this country because of “governmental restrictions”;
  • The practitioner claims the medical community has “discriminated” against him or her;
  • Mental imagery, biofeedback or hypnosis is the sole basis of the treatment;
  • The treatment involves electronic equipment (other than radiation therapy).

Also, questionable forms of cancer treatment are often extremely costly and require lengthy stays at special treatment centers, frequently in other countries.


Do standard treatments still offer the greatest hope for cancer cure?



Nearly half of all cancer patients can be cured by one, or a combination of, standard treatments, which include surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy.  Clincal trials continue to reveal promising new treatments as well.  Significant advances in the ability to detect cancer further improve the chance of cure.



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