The Cause and Treatment of Cancer

The NSW State Cancer Council supports the orthodox view that cancer is a localised condition caused only by physiological conditions. The alternative point of view, however, sees cancer as a late-stage symptom of an underlying systemic disease that affects the whole body. Which theory is correct and why?

Different theories about the cause and treatment of cancer

The NSW State Cancer Council supports the orthodox approach to the treatment of cancer. Essentially this means that a small malignant tumour is an early, localised stage of cancer which, if detected early enough and completely removed, can be cured. Once cancer has metastasised (spread) it is no longer curable. Cancer is considered caused by only physiological factors.

The alternative approach to the treatment of cancer sees the small malignant tumour as a late-stage symptom of an underlying systemic disease affecting the whole body. It sees cancer as being caused by physiological, psychological and spiritual factors. As a result of these factors several bodily systems break down (degenerate). The cells mitochondria become depleted in energy; cells can no longer dispose of waste products; the various immune defence factors such as natural killer cells, macrophages and lymphocytes become fewer in number and less active in their function. This situation leads to tumour formation. This can therefore only be reversed by seeking out the causes of degeneration in these three areas.

Surgery and radiotherapy are normally seen as ineffective treatments because they are dealing with symptoms, not the cause. Chemotherapy, although it is normally a systemic therapy, is in most cases seen as doing serious damage to the body s natural defence systems and therefore unlikely to have any long-term benefits. Alternative treatments that are based on restoring and strengthening the body s own healing mechanisms rather than harming them are therefore seen as more likely to be effective in controlling cancer.

The Efficacy of Orthodox Treatments

Randomised trials

The only scientifically acceptable method of assessing the efficacy of a cancer treatment is the randomised trial. This involves comparing survival or mortality between a treated group and a control group. Patients are allocated to these groups at random. Available evidence shows that neither surgery nor radiotherapy has been proven in a randomised trial to be effective in controlling cancer either by improving survival or reducing mortality. Radiotherapy can reduce recurrence significantly but without affecting overall survival. Chemotherapy has been shown in randomised trials to
be effective in increasing survival by a few weeks or months only in one type of solid tumour – small-cell lung cancer. In view of the serious side-effects experienced, even this treatment must also remain questionable. Comparison of survival.

Indirect evidence such as comparison of percentage 5-year survival over time is not reliable. Factors unrelated to treatment can have a significant effect on survival figures (1). Most observed apparent increases in survival are normally due to earlier diagnosis and do not affect time of death. Unless the increased survival is very large and the effects of increased incidence and earlier diagnosis have been eliminated or allowed for, claims of improved survival must be seriously questioned. Comparison of incidence and mortality over time is a better measure of improved survival(1). Such comparisons show that no increased survival can be attributed to intervention with surgery or radiotherapy(2). Chemotherapy has been shown to produce a significant increase in survival in a particular type of acute childhood leukemia and some lymphomas. Claimed improvements in survival in other areas have been significantly overstated(3).

Tumour response studies

Tumour response studies used to prove the efficacy of chemotherapy are invalid since there has been no correlation demonstrated between improved response (tumour shrinkage) and improved survival(4). This suggests that the orthodox theory of cancer, that the tumour is the disease, is invalid.

Emergency intervention

Any treatment capable of removing or shrinking a tumour that is threatening a vital organ, such as a tumour obstructing the bowel or pressing on the brain, can extend life, but this can be done without affecting the disease itself. These tests for efficacy show that orthodox therapies are effective for only about 6% of cancer cases. This is not surprising in view of the fact that there is scientific backing for only 15% of all medical interventions(5) and cancer is considered to be more difficult to treat than most other diseases.

Cancer Screening

The same lack of evidence for efficacy exists in the area of cancer screening. This applies to screening for cancer of the uterus using the PAP smear; for cancer of the breast using mammograms; for colorectal cancer; and for prostate cancer. In none of these areas is there reliable evidence that widespread screening over many years has had any effect on mortality from these diseases. For example reduction in mortality observed in some randomised mammogram screening trials can be explained by poor methodology rather than earlier intervention following earlier diagnosis(6).

The Efficacy of Alternative Treatments

Randomised trials

Very few alternative cancer treatment have been subjected to a randomised trial that has shown extended survival. One is psychotherapy. Median Survival was almost doubled from 19 months to 37 months following this additional treatment(7). This is consistent with the systemic theory of cancer that holds that psychological factors can play a significant part in the breakdown of the body s metabolic and immune functions. It is not consistent with the orthodox (localised) theory of cancer that sees only physiological factors involved in the cause and control of cancer.

Comparison of survival

Using indirect evidence such as from an unmatched comparison of survival of advanced stage cancer patients after conventional treatment followed by an alternative treatment with survival after conventional treatment alone suggests that there are other alternative cancer treatments that appear to produce a significant extension of survival. These include:

Whole-Body Therapy developed by Dr Josef Issels in Bavaria, Germany(8) – This produced 16.6% 5-year survival with terminal cancer patients compared with <5% expected from orthodox treatments; and 15% 15-year survival compared with <2% expected from orthodox treatments. A second therapy that has been tested in clinical trials is Hydrazine Sulphate, developed by Dr Joseph Gold in New York(9). Hydrazine Sulphate is a prohibited import in Australia. Scientists in Russia have confirmed that it stops cachexia (cancer-induced starvation in 50% of cases, shrinks inoperable malignant and non-malignant brain tumours, and also produces a significant improvement in survival in lymphomas, particularly Hodgkin s disease. A third therapy currently undergoing a clinical trial is shark cartilage. Preliminary results suggest some effect of treatment on survival(10).

Such trials of alternative therapies are normally only permitted with patients with advanced cancer. This is on the grounds that patients must first be treated with the “proven” therapies of surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

Anecdotal Evidence

In addition to these there are over 100 different therapies for which there is either scientific evidence of effect on tumours or anecdotal evidence of unexpected long-term remission (11,12). Many of these have been investigated by the US Congress, Office of Technology Assessment(13). Some have subsequently been referred to the US National Institutes of Health s Office of Alternative Medicine for proper evaluation.

Spontaneous Remissions

The concept of spontaneous remission is not consistent with the orthodox theory of cancer because it is widely believed that once a tumour reaches a palpable size the body s immune system is not capable of destroying it or controlling its growth. It is however consistent with the systemic theory of cancer since anything that can reverse the cancer process in the body is likely to result in the tumour disappearing in due course or becoming inactive.

TABLE 1. Some of the more widely known Alternative Cancer Therapies
Dr Lawrence BURTON Immuno-Augmentative-Therapy Freeport, Bahamas*
Dr Stanislaw BURZYNSKI Antineoplastons Houston, Texas*
Dr Donald COLE Hyperthermia New York *
Dr William COLEY Coley’s Toxins Tijuana, Mexico*
Dr Kurt DONSBACH D.M.S.O.+ Hydrogen peroxide Tijuana, Mexico*
Dr Max GERSON Gerson Diet US*
Dr Joseph GOLD Hydrazine Sulphate Tijuana, Mexico*
Mr Harry HOXSEY Hoxsey Herbal Tonic US*
Dr William KELLEY Kelley Diet US
Dr William KOCH Glyoxylide US and Japan*
Dr Ishio KUSHI Macrobiotic Diet US and Mexico
Dr William LANE Shark Cartilage Switzerland*
Dr Anita LEROI Iscador US
Dr Robert LINCOLN Bacteriophage Method San Diego, Calif.*
Dr Virginia LIVINGSTON Cancer Vaccine Tijuana, Mexico
Dr Harold MANNER Vitamins A,C,E and Amygdalin Quebec, Canada
Dr Gaston NAESSENS 714X California*
Dr Linus PAULING Vitamin C megadoses New York*
Dr Emanuel REVICI Non-toxic Chemotherapy San Diego, Calif.
Dr David RUBIN D.M.B.G. Pacif. Palis., CA*
Dr Carl SIMONTON Psychotherapy  
Ann WIGMORE Wheatgrass Diet Boston and Florida*

*These therapies were investigated by the US Congress, Office of Technology Assessment (see US Congress, Office of Technology Assessment, Unconventional Cancer Treatments, OTA-H-405, Washington DC: US Government Printing Office, September 1990).


  1. Enstrom, JE and Austin, DF. Interpreting Cancer Survival Rates. Science 1977: 195; 847-851.
  2. Benjamin, DJ. The Efficacy of Surgical Treatment of Cancer. Medical Hypotheses 1993: 40; 129-138.
  3. US Congress General Accounting Office. Cancer patients survival: what progress has been made? PEMD-87-13, (3/31/87).
  4. Moss, R. Questioning Chemotherapy. New York: Equinox Press, 1995.
  5. Editorial, Where is the wisdom…? – The poverty of medical evidence. BMJ 1991: 303: 798-99.
  6. Benjamin, DJ. The efficacy of surgical treatment of breast cancer. Proceedings of The Lancet Conference: “The challenge of breast cancer”; 1994 21-22 April; Brugge, Belgium; Medical Hypotheses 1996; 47 (5): 389-97.
  7. Spiegel, D. et al. Effect of psychosocial treatment on survival of patients with metastatic breast cancer. The Lancet, October 14 1989; 888-891.
  8. Issels, J. Immunotherapy in Progressive Metastatic Cancer – Fifteen-Year Follow-Up. Clinical Trials Journal August 1990: 357-365.
  9. Gold, J. Article by Jeff Kamen: From Russia With Love … Stonewalled in the U.S.A., Penthouse
  10. Lane, IW, Shark Cartilage
  11. Moss, RW. Cancer Therapy, New York: Equinox Press, 1992.
  12. Pelton, R and Overholser, L. Alternatives in Cancer Therapy. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994.
  13. US Congress, Office of Technology Assessment, Unconventional Cancer Treat-ments, OTA-H-405, Washington DC: US Government Printing Office, September 1990.


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