Dr B Borooah Cancer Institute, Guwahati has been regularly conducting recreational programme for patients undergoing treatment in the Institute. The employees of the Institute are also committed for various social activities. In spite of significant growth in various fields in our country, many people are still deprived of basic amenities like food, shelter, water supply, electricity etc. In the winters of December when we prepare to celebrate Christmas and New Year, many people still do not have sufficient clothes to protect them cold. Many sleeps in the pavements of the street. Small contributions from each and every one of us in the society can make a significant difference in the lives of the people around us.
As a mark of small and yet humble step, the employees of Dr. B. Borooah Cancer Institute distributed blankets and eatables to the peoples living in the pavements of the streets in front of Sukleswar Temple on 24.12.2012 at 11:30 AM. It is hoped that many people and NGOs will come forward for the aid of the needy people. Together we can change the world.
REJOINDER TO ‘CANCEROR ANSWER – AN ARTICLE PUBLISHED IN AMAR ASOM ON 3 RD & 4 TH NOVEMBER 2008’
Our attention has been drawn to an article titled ‘CANCEROR ANSWER’ written by Sri Dilip Kumar Goswami and published in Assamese Daily AMAR ASOM on 3 rd and 4 th November 2008. The article is undoubtedly, an excellent ‘review of the book’ ‘CANCER STEP OUTSIDE THE BOX’ written by Ty M. Bollinger, but certainly cannot be considered as a medical review article on cancer. We have little scientific knowledge on the modality of the treatment called ‘INSULIN POTENTIATION THERAPY’ in the management of Cancer. This form of therapy in real sense cannot be termed as an alternative discipline of medicine, as the drugs used in IPT are allopathic in nature. As students of Science and also as physicians, we respect all forms of alternative medicine, which are based on sound scientific foundation. I have discussed the subject with my colleagues in the Institute since I strongly believe that it is not possible to know each and everything in the medical field. It is a vast sea of knowledge. We have also consulted renowned oncologists of our country about IPT and they too have expressed serious reservations. We have perused the website mentioned in the article advocating IPT and also reviewed the medical literature written on the subject.
In the article, Mr. Goswami has almost in unequivocal terms - with the help of Bollinger’s book - tried to give an impression to the public that cure for cancer has not been made possible due to the greed of the doctors for money, across the world in connivance with the pharmaceutical companies. The statement like this is derogatory and is an act of over simplification to belittle the contemporary history of research and development in the field of oncology. The contribution made by two-time Nobel Laureate Madame Curie (1903 Nobel Prize in Physics, 1911 Nobel Prize in Chemistry) towards discovery of radium and its subsequent application in the field of radiation oncology cannot be termed a meaningless discovery. In the same way, the Nobel Prize in Medicine for the year 2008, which was awarded to Chairman and the Director of German Cancer Research Centre, Dr. Zerald zur Hausen, for his contribution in the development of HPV Vaccine for control of cervical cancer in woman, cannot be viewed as a discovery for minting money.
The advent of newer chemotherapeutic drugs have completely changed the outcome of childhood blood malignancy (acute lymphatic leukaemia) and acute lymphatic leukaemia can be cured in as high as 80-90% of the cases. Some of the aggressive germ cell tumours which were earlier incurable can now be cured completely with the advent of newer chemotherapeutic drugs like cisplatin, bleomycin and etoposide in late 1970s. These are only some of the fewer examples of latest developments in the field of medical oncology. The development of molecular genetics in oncology has resulted targeted chemotherapy with monoclonal antibody and various research projects are undergoing at present.
Today, whatever is our knowledge and understanding of the disease called Cancer, it is because of numerous painful research works of medical scientists and molecular biologists. In 1971, United States embarked on National Cancer Plan, and its aim was to find a cure for cancer, using the similar kind of massive, precisely targeted research work that put the man on the moon. The various treatment strategies, which have come out today, are the results of scientific works and research.
Over the years, Cancer survivals have improved largely due to contribution in the field of oncology. Data collected from Population Based Cancer Registry in the United States through SEER (Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results) programme of the National Cancer Institute have showed significant improvement in treatment results from 1988 to 1997 than the earlier period of 1975 to 1987. This study was conducted on 17,79,458 number of cancer patients from 1975 to 1997. This report was published in the journal ‘Arch Intern Med’ in 2002. These findings have continued to inspire many people involved in the practice of medicine to work for further improvement in treatment outcome in a systematic scientific manner. Gone are the days of ‘opinion based’ management of diseases and today it has been replaced by ‘evidence based practice’. Present day treatment of cancer today is globally carried out based on evidence gathered through collection and evaluation of large amount of data, clinical trials and multi-centric meta analysis etc. A variety of tools and techniques have been developed to assess efficacy and effectiveness of various options of treatment. One can’t simply start or advocate a policy without examining various issues like cost effectiveness, scientific, legal or ethical considerations. Anything that is sensational may not be science.
It is difficult to imagine how can a so-called effective treatment modality be suppressed in the world since its introduction in 1932 by a ‘greedy’ group of doctors. The circumstances which led Dr. Linus Pauling, the two-time Nobel Laureate, to comment “Most cancer research is largely a fraud” as referred to, is very much unclear.
Dr. Linus Pauling was awarded Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1954 for his research into the nature of the chemical bond and its application to the elucidation of the structure of complex substances. He was again awarded Nobel Peace Prize in 1963 for his contribution towards nuclear disarmament. We don’t have the audacity to question the knowledge and integrity of Dr. Pauling. It is however known that Dr. Pauling published a paper in 1978, which claimed high cure rate of cancer patients treated with high dose of Vitamin-C. Subsequent 3 different studies conducted in Mayo Clinic (one study was International Multi-institutional) involving 367 patients failed to observe improvement in survival by this modality of treatment. In 1982, William D.DeWys, Chief of the clinical investigations branch of the National Cancer Institute’s Cancer therapy programme, pointed out faulty study design carried out by Scottish Surgeon Ewan Cameron and Linus Pauling.
In medical science, we hear about individual (anecdotal) case reports claiming better results. These individual reports guide us for further scientific study on large number of subjects through Phase-III clinical trial for meaningful conclusion.
We would like to mention an article written by Robert Baratz, M.D., D.D.S., Ph.D., who is the President of the National Council Against Health Fraud in United States. In his article ‘Why You Should Stay Away from Insulin Potentiation Therapy’ he has made startling revelations in the context of the Ayre’s Website claim on the efficacy of IPT. In the article, Baratz has mentioned that Ayre did attend a meeting of NIH (National Institute of Health) Advisory Panel at which possible preliminary investigation was discussed. However, there has been no visible evidence that the suggested data collection had taken place. The study was ordered to shut down in January 2001 after the FDA concluded that it was run improperly. It is curious that the study is still mentioned on Ayre’s website even though it was cancelled. The article also says that treatment with Insulin in a non-diabetic patient can result in rapid fall of blood sugar level leading to coma, shock and even death. No major medical school, hospital or other institutions has embarked on a clinical trial largely because the therapy is dangerous, potentially lethal if too much insulin is administered, and does not have a sound biological basis. Besides the danger of insulin shock and death, use of low dose chemotherapy can foster the development of resistant cancer cell strains. Thus, IPT can prevent appropriate chemotherapy from working later and make an otherwise curable cancer incurable.
In 2003, a scientific journal reported that women with breast cancer treated with methotrexate plus insulin did better than women treated with methotrexate alone. Although the report suggests that insulin may have a short-term effect, it did not have any data on long-term effects or health outcomes. Moreover, in 2007, two of its five authors were charged with fraud in connection with another cancer scam, which may mean that their 2003 data are not trustworthy.
There is no published evidence that insulin causes more drug to enter the cancer cells or that giving insulin enables chemotherapy drugs to build up within these cells while sparing normal cells.
The American Cancer Society (ACS) says that despite individual (anecdotal) reports, there are no published scientific studies available showing that IPT is safe or effective in treating cancer in humans. IPT may also have serious side effects. One very small-published study that looked at IPT was done in Uruguay. It included 30 women with breast cancer that was resistant to mainstream therapies. This study did not look at survival, quality of life, well-being, or lasting effects. No long-term improvements were shown by this study. There is no evidence that people who reported being helped by IPT were followed up long enough to find out if the treatment worked.
In a report of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre, New York, states that IPT remains an unproven cancer therapy until there are more studies available to validate its benefit.
Despite supporters’ claims that IPT has been well researched, scientific studies that show safety and effectiveness have not been published in available peer reviewed journals. These claims cannot be verified.
Insulin has not been approved by the FDA to lower blood sugar to abnormal levels. Even when used as prescribed, it can be dangerous in some: An estimated 2-4% of deaths in people with Type-1 diabetes are due to low blood sugar.
Relying on this type of treatment alone, and avoiding or delaying standard medical care for cancer, may have serious health consequences.
The cost of treatment of IPT over a period of 3-4 weeks in USA is approximately $15,500 to $17,500. This means, in Indian context, it will be approximately Rs.7,00,000 – Rs.8,00,000/- for such treatment.
Rising interest in alternative medicine has, of late, come from the fact that some cancers are not curable despite best efforts. Many people continue to die from this disease. It is natural, as the Swiss Psychologist Elizabeth Kublar Ross says, that cancer patients and relatives go through some stages like that of denial, anger and depression before finally accepting the harsh reality of life and ravages of cancer. No doctor will wish any new option to fail, which can bring cure to cancer patients. The medical fraternity would be glad to embrace effective cure, if it is based on scientific evaluation. Doctors have nothing to loose, rather gain, God forbids, at least in a situation when cancer befallen on them.
We will be more than happy to accept this modality of treatment if all the unanswered questions involving IPT are addressed through large, well-controlled, prospective, randomized, multi-institutional international trial. Its clinical use should be preceded by a phase-I trial on animal models followed by phase-II trial on small number of human subjects before undertaking a phase-III clinical trial on large number of patients.