I”m going to post one last article about Burzynski in response to a comment I got and responded to for another Burzynski post.
I want to make it clear that I have NO affiliation with Dr Burzynski, and reason to be angry about not being able to get treatment for my wife at his clinc.
The conversation went like this:
Bottom line from Burzynski critics: the guy has yet to demonstrate that his drugs work. Regardless of FDA conspiracies and the like, no one knows if the drugs he’s selling actually work. The little data he HAS published were obtained using some very questionable (dishonest?) methods. Conspiracy or not, antineoplastons have not been proven to work in any trial. At $20k-30k per month, I feel his patients are owed evidence of efficacy but Burzynski seems to have perfected the art of convincing his patients that they are owed nothing. I wish you the best, and I hope that whatever you’re doing now is working. However, I also hope that, if you do not improve with the Burzynski “therapies”, that you discontinue them quickly and, even if they do work, share your experiences with your readers. If Burzynski is a fraud, he is the worst kind – preying on the desperation of cancer patients. If he is not, then why has he been so reticent to publish his incredible results?
Thank you for your positive wishes and feedback.
I am by nature a very skeptical pharmacist… and before I would post anything on this site you have to know that I have investigated it extensively.
So, let me be quite clear on this topic.
I am not able to get my wife treatment with Dr Burzynski’s antineoplastons – or other medications related to them – because I can’t afford it.
This really pisses me off.
And, I must say that their business practices are probably best described as sketchy.
But I am quite certain Dr Burzynski’s antineoplastons work – at least for some significant number of cancers, and that is something I do not believe I can say for conventional therapies if not augmented by non-traditional concepts.
I can’t help thinking of an article I read that was published by a major Cancer Society.
NOBODY addressed the data that had been presented.
Instead, ALL the reviewers hid behind the fact that they didn’t like the way Dr Burzynski structured his trials and quantified his data.
It was – in my opinion – quite a smear piece with NO redeeming value.
One must ask oneself why this was the case.
I will not tell you why I think it was dealt with in this manner.
I will only say – as a person with extensive engineering, statistical analysis, and process control experience – that the concept of evidence based medicine is one that is situationally invoked to serve the strangest of purposes.
YOU – my readers – should be pissed too!
I believe the exchange typifies the difference in perspective between those who are willing to critically analyze and search out data and those who support the mainstream approach.
You can read what the U.S. Government’s task force wrote about Dr Burzynski here:CongressReport
You can also read the later comments of a consultant to that project here:http://www.commonweal.org/pubs/choices-healing.html Chapter 21
You’ll have to study the data and decide for yourself what you’re going to believe.
I’ve also provided a copy of the abstract and links to a well done study that I think speaks volumes about the effectiveness of chemotherapy here:
The contribution of cytotoxic chemotherapy to 5-year survival in adult malignancies.
Department of Radiation Oncology, Northern Sydney Cancer Centre, Royal North Shore Hospital, Sydney, NSW, Australia. firstname.lastname@example.org
The debate on the funding and availability of cytotoxic drugs raises questions about the contribution of curative or adjuvant cytotoxic chemotherapy to survival in adult cancer patients.
MATERIALS AND METHODS:
We undertook a literature search for randomised clinical trials reporting a 5-year survival benefit attributable solely to cytotoxic chemotherapy in adult malignancies. The total number of newly diagnosed cancer patients for 22 major adult malignancies was determined from cancer registry data in Australia and from the Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results data in the USA for 1998. For each malignancy, the absolute number to benefit was the product of (a) the total number of persons with that malignancy; (b) the proportion or subgroup(s) of that malignancy showing a benefit; and (c) the percentage increase in 5-year survival due solely to cytotoxic chemotherapy. The overall contribution was the sum total of the absolute numbers showing a 5-year survival benefit expressed as a percentage of the total number for the 22 malignancies.
The overall contribution of curative and adjuvant cytotoxic chemotherapy to 5-year survival in adults was estimated to be 2.3% in Australia and 2.1% in the USA.
As the 5-year relative survival rate for cancer in Australia is now over 60%, it is clear that cytotoxic chemotherapy only makes a minor contribution to cancer survival. To justify the continued funding and availability of drugs used in cytotoxic chemotherapy, a rigorous evaluation of the cost-effectiveness and impact on quality of life is urgently required.
A link to a copy of a pdf of the article –
9 thoughts on “One Last Burzynski Post”
I have travelled thousands of miles multiple times with my wife to get treatment at the Burzynski Clinic. My wife has breast cancer that has spread to the plexus and lymph nodes. I share similar opinions with many of your readers on the clinic. I am not sure what it is doing but we are praying it is helping our fight. I share your opinion of Dr Burzynski and am very impressed with him. BUT… We have spent soooo much for what seems to be just the PB and a second opinion. Have you found a place to get the PB that is reliable? I do think the PB helps. I am glad i found your site. I Hope everybody reading this gets well. Keep fighting!
“I believe the exchange typifies the difference in perspective between those who are willing to critically analyze and search out data and those who support the mainstream approach.”
Steve, please tell me what I’m failing to analyze critically; what peer-reviewed paper I have failed to read? Aside from Burzynski’s 2006 Pediatric Drugs paper which, I will say again, uses questionable methods and a very small cohort, what evidence of efficacy has he presented? Where is this evidence?
Despite your claim to be “a very skeptical pharmacist”, you seem not to see that data is only as good as the method used to collect and analyze it: If you omit drug failures from a clinical trial, you will always get a positive result. If you use a small patient cohort, even the most impressive rate of improvement may not be statistically significant. If you don’t use a placebo group, you can’t say how many people would have improved without therapy. Method is the most important and persuasive argument for any claim.
“conventional therapies [do not work] if not augmented by non-traditional concepts”
Please provide a reference for this statement and what, exactly you mean by “non-traditional concepts”.
You say that “…the reviewers hid behind the fact that they didn’t like the way Dr Burzynski structured his trials and quantified his data.”
As I understand this, you would propose that the data collection and analysis method has nothing to do with what the outcome. Put another way, the data quality and means of subsequent analysis has no influence on the results of that analysis. Is that correct?
If so, that makes no sense. I know that, in my own work, I could show a false positive, negative or neutral result, depending on how ethically flexible I am in analyzing the data. And, if I am selective about the data I collect, well I could support or refute any hypothesis I want.
Regarding the Barton et al.: I’m not sure why that’s relevant. A lot of Burzynski supporters seem to use a common straw man argument: If you’re don’t support antineoplaston chemotherapy, you must support standard chemotherapy. I find this a bit troubling because I only wish to discuss antineoplastons and evidence of their efficacy. Straw man arguments assume a false pretense – that I must necessarily approve of B simply because I express my disapproval of A.
I’m going to go out on a limb here an say that a big reason you think that Burzynski’s antineoplastons work because you FEEL he is an ethical doctor, but that’s not evidence, that’s a feeling.
I’m willing to accept that you support Burzynski because you felt he gave you good care – I cannot argue with that, and no one should. Cancer is horrible and it ruins lives. Anyone who has gone through the illness and the treatment, win or to lose, is a hero in my book, and should be allowed to pursue whatever treatment they like. But saying that unproven drugs work is a different argument entirely. There just isn’t any evidence.
Come one, don’t cite this Morgan article : it makes no sense.
Chemotherapy is very effective on some types of cancers, effective only in combination with radiotherapy on some others, and poorly effective on others.
It makes no sense to pool just every type of cancer together. This mean with a huge standard deviation makes no sense. Nobody said chemotherapy should be effective on any cancer.
In fact, if you look, for example at testis cancers, you will see that it’s 40% of 5 years survival contribution.
Chemotherapy is also quite effective against some types of leukemia etc…etc…
You can’t just pool everything together : treatment are chosen depending on the type of cancer one has.
I love how you refer to yourself as one of “those who are willing to critically analyze and search out data”, when you have clearly disregarded all available data does not support your pre-conceived opinion.
This should read something like: “I believe the exchange typifies the difference in perspective between those who Burzynski has distracted from the data (you), and those who have not been distracted (the guy who commented).”
The problem with the Morgan et al’s article and the ‘2.1% effective” meem is that their study design is inherently biased toward finding chemotherapy less effective than is actually the case (we can leave it to others to decide if that’s a consequence of inattention to detail or deliberate intent to acheive a preferred conclusion).
First, when choosing the 22 different types of cancers to examine the authors somehow managed to omit thespecific types of cancers for which chemotherapy is most effective, and for some types of cancer is demonstrably capable of achieving a cure (various leukemias, intermediate and high-grade non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, T-cell lyphomas, Burkitt’s lymphomas, testicular cancers, etc.)
The authors then further skewed the analysis by failing to distinguish between chemotherapy given with the intent to cure versus chemotherapy versus chemotherapy given to achieve some other result. Their focus on “5-year survival benefit attributable solely to cytotoxic chemotherapy in adult malignancies” as a measure of efficacy ignores the fact that chemotherapy is given to achieve different outcomes, in different circumstances, for different types of cancers. Chemotherapy is very good at treating and in fact can cure some cancers (those leukemia’s and lymphomas, for example). It’s very good at reducing recurrence following surgery for some cancers (breast cancers, for example) where it’s the surgery that acheives a cure. It’s very good at reducing tumor size prior to surgery aloowing patients who otherwise would not be suitable candidates to undergo surgery, or to receive more tissue-sparing surgeries (e.g., by shrinking breast tumors sufficeintly to be removed without resorting to partial or full mastectomies). And it’s useful in palliation, where it’s administered without any expectation of dramatically improving survival time but instead maintaining as high a quality of life as possible for as long as possible.
JGC, thanks for your post. You obviously have a credible background, and I agree with the majority of what you have said.
They did omit a cancer types for which chemotherapy is known to be useful, and to sometimes effect a ‘cure’. But, they did include the testicular cancers and non-hodgkins lymphomas.
Some of their rational is explained in their article (e.g. reason for omiting leukemia is on page 550, second paragraph in the right column). Some is not.
But, they claim that the 22 types they chise to look at comprised 90% of the newly diagnosed cancers in Australia in 1998.
However, I think we’re missing a core point.. or at least what I consider core.
Let’s say that all 10% of the cancers not included in their study survived 5 years or more. Of course, this would not be the case. But, – just for giggle – let’s assume it did happen that way. That would take the 5 year survival rate to what…. 12+%?
So, this is where I start to apply my engineering mentality. In my previous career’s world – Silicon Valley’s semiconductor factories – anything less than a 95% success rate would get you fired for not knowing what the heck you were doing.
Our ‘cure’ rates don’t come anywhere near 95%. We obviously don’t know what we’re doing. Selling, instead, bullshit experimentation and ineffective treatments as state of the art with the unspoken hope that this particular patient will be one of the few that we accidentaly ‘cure’.
So, again… we are nit in disagreement on what you have said… only what it means in the real world… especilly after we have thrown so much money at this plague of humanity.
Please keep your thoughtful posts coming as you see fit….
Steve (AKA That Crazy Pharmacist)
I agree that Chemotherapy has a place for certain types of this horrendous disease… but as soon as we were told that my husband had ”incurable” lung cancer I sought the help of a recommended specialised nutritionist, as my previous research and ongoing research had convinced me that this would give him the only chance he had. By working on Oxygenating his body ( as Cancer hates oxygen!) with diet and nutritional support, he put on an average of 3-4lbs every 3 weeks that he was weighed at the hospital…. and his oxygen levels shocked the nurses every time, as it was a continuous 100%.
We were told by doctors that my husband’s lung cancer could not be cured… but, chemotherapy could extend his life a little. My husband clung to the hope that this would help him and agreed to go ahead with Chemo which made him really quite ill for most of 2 out of the 3 weeks between sessions. Despite this, he was still gaining weight, and we were all very hopeful. … Until they told him that they wanted him to take a new Chemotherapy drug. I was most concerned as I thought he had finished with Chemo, and he was looking well and feeling quite well. His oxygen levels were 100% every time he was checked at the hospital ( every 3 weeks) 5 days before the new Chemo was administered, he actually said ” if I can stay as I am now… I will be happy”… but …agreed to allow them to administer the new Chemo, as he trusted the system.
This time he had a dreadful reaction to the one dose. In the doctor’s own words… It poisoned his whole system and his body started to break down badly. We were of course devastated, he was going downhill so fast. I asked how long it would take to get this poison out of his system,
and she just leaned against the wall and sighed …months.. and months. Of course he didn’t have months and months left . Oxygenating his body was fighting the cancer…. but nothing could fight poison.
I lost my husband and best friend of 45 years a few weeks later.
Now that’s the most non-sensical thing I’ve read on this site.
Unfortunately it typifies the knowledge base and intellect of the Brudzinski followers.
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