Conventional cancer "research" is biased, long term, difficult to understand, contaminated and often just plain wrong-

I am a long term cancer survivor. When I was first diagnosed I did what most cancer patients do. I followed the instructions of my oncologist. I underwent chemo regimen after chemo regimen. After several years, three relapses and "we can do nothing more for you" I was forced away from the world of traditional oncology. What went wrong?

Does conventional toxic chemotherapy save lives? It didn't save my life. In fact, I now live with life-threatening side effects from the very therapies that were supposed to help me.

Many cancer nonprofits' mission these days, all or in part, is to fund cancer research.  If you are donating to or raising money by biking, swimming, walking for, or otherwise supporting cancer research then the challenge is to understand what is meant by the nonprofit when they say they fund cancer research.

"Cancer research ranges from epidemiology, molecular bioscience to the performance of clinical trials to evaluate and compare applications of the various cancer treatment. These applications include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, Immunotherapy and combined treatment modalities such as chemo-radiotherapy."

The vast majority of cancer nonprofits are talking about research into conventional therapies such as surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, Immunotherapy and combined treatment modalities such as chemo-radiotherapy.

Raising money for conventional cancer research sounds great. However, few people would donate to or raise money if they understood that conventional cancer research might not benefit cancer survivors and caregivers. Most people want to know what their donations accomplish.  The articles below outline some of the challenges with conventional cancer research.

Problem #1-

The politics of basic academic cancer research versus commercial interests. Do research dollars fund basic research or do they fund commercial projects? Do donations pay for drug companies to bring products to market? Why do the researchers cited below care enough to quit?

Evidence Underlying Most Guidelines May Be Questionable

"Most clinical practice guidelines for interventional procedures are based on lower-quality medical evidence and fail to disclose the authors' conflicts of interest, according to a review and analysis published in the January issue of the Mayo Clinic Proceedings..."Most of the interventional guidelines failed to grade the evidence," the review authors write. "When present, most guidelines used lower-quality evidence[, and] most guidelines failed to disclose COIs. When commented on, numerous COIs were present."

Watch this Ted Talk video to consisely illustrate the above issue- "publication bias," "research misconduct and fraud" "fake fixes"


Scientists Quit Texas Cancer Institute in Flap

"AUSTIN, Texas—Thirty-three scientists resigned from a state-funded cancer research institute this month, with some publicly complaining that political appointees were trying to improperly influence how its money was doled out...The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, created in 2007 with a mission to spend $3 billion on cancer research and prevention by 2020-

"Some of the departing scientists—who include Nobel laureates Phillip A. Sharp and Alfred Gilman, who had been the institute's chief scientific officer—said in resignation letters and interviews with The Wall Street Journal that they were protesting a willingness by the oversight committee to fund commercial projects aimed at developing new cancer therapies, regardless of whether the projects had been thoroughly vetted by the scientists."

To read the entire article-


Lawmakers want answers from cancer-fighting agency

"Two Republican state lawmakers who helped create Texas' embattled $3 billion cancer-fighting effort are now demanding to know how it approved an $11 million grant to a biomedical company even though the proposal wasn't reviewed."

Problem #2-

Today's research will take years to translate into possible therapies.

Breast cancer research sometimes misunderstood

Implication of cures just around the corner unrealistic, cancer survivor and researcher say

Posted: Sep 30, 2012 1:12 PM ET

"As thousands of Canadians walk and run to raise funds for breast cancer research this weekend, the reality is that much of the advances in scientific understanding will have little immediate impact on patients."

Problem #3

Clinical trials do not portray the real world of everyday cancer. Cancer patients may be older, may have other health problems, may be negatively effected by side effects- in short, controlled clinical trials are just that- controlled. Chances are pretty good that your experience will be less favorable than clinical trial results.

ASCO: Cancer Survival Lower in Real World

By Charles Bankhead, Staff Writer, MedPage Today

Published: June 01, 2012
"CHICAGO -- Older patients with advanced cancers treated in the community had survival that fell short of that for patients who received the same regimens in clinical trials, analysis of a large government database showed...Patients in the community had a median survival of 16.1 months, which was 30% lower than that of patients treated with the same regimen in a cooperative-group randomized clinical trial..."
Problem #4-
I call this the HeLa problem.  The very first human cancer cells came from a woman who died of ovarian cancer in the fifties.  Her name was Henrietta Lacks. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is one of the best non-fiction books I have ever read. As the article below states, as much as a third of all cancer research were mistakenly identified.

Lab Mistakes Hobble Cancer Studies But Scientists Slow to Take Remedies

April 20, 2012, 10:25 p.m. ET

"Last year, cancer researcher Robert Mandic got news no scientist wants to hear. After publishing a paper on a rare head-and-neck cancer, he learned the cells he had been studying were instead cervical cancer. He notified the journal Oral Oncology, which retracted the article...

Cancer experts seeking to solve the problem have found that a fifth to a third or more of cancer cell lines tested were mistakenly identified—with researchers unwittingly studying the wrong cancers, slowing progress toward new treatments and wasting precious time and money. In hundreds of documented cases that undermine a broad swath of research, cancer samples that were supposed to be one type of tumor have turned out to be another, through either careless laboratory handling, mislabeling or other mistakes.

It is a problem hiding in plain sight. Warnings to properly test cancer cell lines have sounded since the 1960s, a decade after scientists started making human cancer cell lines.

Problem #5-

Study results are biased by the study's sponsors. The vast majority of all cancer research is paid for by for-profit companies.

Sponsoring by the Pharmaceutical Industry Can Bias the Results of Drug Studies, Study Suggests

"Drug studies financed by pharmaceutical companies frequently show positive results in favour of the sponsor...The authors conclude that pharmaceutical companies exploit a wide variety of possibilities of manipulating study results. Apart from financing the study, financial links to the authors, such as payments for lectures, may tend to make the results of the study more favourable for the company. Not only the results themselves, but also their interpretation, are significantly more often in accordance with the wishes of the sponsor."

Drug development: Raise standards for preclinical cancer research

"Over the past decade, before pursuing a particular line of research, scientists (including C.G.B.) in the haematology and oncology department at the biotechnology firm Amgen in Thousand Oaks, California, tried to confirm published findings related to that work. Fifty-three papers were deemed 'landmark' studies (see 'Reproducibility of research findings'). It was acknowledged from the outset that some of the data might not hold up, because papers were deliberately selected that described something completely new, such as fresh approaches to targeting cancers or alternative clinical uses for existing therapeutics. Nevertheless, scientific findings were confirmed in only 6 (11%) cases. Even knowing the limitations of preclinical research, this was a shocking result."

Problem #6-

Clinical Trials are... difficult.  This last one is complicated. I will outline the issues below but my point is that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) mandates controlled clinical trials with lots and lots of problems associated with them.

The Trials of Cancer Trials

Living With Cancer September 13, 2012, 1:24 pm

"But one of the things that has been missed along the way is that how we do clinical research will be radically affected as well. We have this big thing about evidence-based medicine and, of course, the sanctimonious randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Well, that's great if one can do that, but often we're talking about needing thousands, if not tens of thousands, of patients for these types of clinical trials. And things are changing so fast with respect to medicine and, for example, genomically guided interventions that it's going to become increasingly difficult to justify these very large clinical trials."

Problem #7-

"Widespread contamination of cancer cell lines by other lines, making findings difficult to interpret."

Problem #8

What doctors don't know about the drugs they prescribe

"When a new drug gets tested, the results of the trials should be published for the rest of the medical world -- except much of the time, negative or inconclusive findings go unreported, leaving doctors and researchers in the dark. In this impassioned talk, Ben Goldacre explains why these unreported instances of negative data are especially misleading and dangerous."

The reasons outlined above coupled with my personal experience as a cancer survivor tells me that conventional cancer research does not offer the cancer survivor/caregiver enough benefit today to manage his/her cancer.

PeopleBeatingCancer's mission is patient advocacy for cancer survivors curated by a long-term cancer survivor (me-David Emerson). My job is to provide you, the survivor/caregiver with information that you can use today to manage your cancer. Therefore PBC is based on epidemiological research and observational studies in combination with own cancer experiences.  While observational studies have problems, it is this kind of research and information that I have relied on to keep me cancer free since my cancer diagnosis in 2/94.

What is your experience with clinical trials? What do you think of conventional cancer research?

Thank you.

David Emerson