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November 29, 2011
The Burzynski Cancer Treatment
There seems to have been a recent surge in interest in the Burzynski cancer therapy in the UK. A family publicly raised a good deal of money to have their daughter flown over to Texas for the treatment, and this seems to have raised the profile of the clinic quite a bit over there.
But Dr. Burzynski and his therapy have been around for decades, and not everyone has been pleased with their results. Orac over at Respectful Insolence has (as you'd expect!) taken up this topic before, and for background I definitely suggest reading his piece. Quackwatch also has background. Put together, it seems that no one has been able to replicate Burzynski's results, despite many attempts. This does not appear to have slowed down his acceptance of patients, nor his billing of them.
Perhaps the best single reference I can give for Burzynski and his associates, though, is this blog from Wales. Rhys Morgan, a high school student, wrote earlier this year about his misgivings about all the UK publicity and fund-raising to send patients to the clinic, and for his pains he was treated to some good old-fashioned legal scare tactics. I'm glad to see that he's standing up to these, and it appears to me as if he's been giving good legal advice in doing so. From his post, it seems that the same law firm is sending out such letters to other people who've written unfavorably about the Burzynski Clinic, and has this ever been a good sign?
It would appear that Dr. Burzynski has had a good deal of time, and numerous opportunities, to provide convincing data to back up his claims. Instead, he seems to have spent his efforts at expanding the definition of the phrase "clinical trial" in response to a court order - and in sending lawyers after people who point such things out. Personally, in my review of the literature, I have seen no reason to disagree with the American Cancer Society's opinion that the value, if any, of the Burzynski therapy has not been established, and I would add that this is still the state of affairs 35 years after his initial publications.
If anyone has anything that might change my mind about that - and I'd prefer data, not legal threats - I'd be glad to review it. But you'd think that the convincing evidence would already be out there by now. 1976!
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