Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Medical Cancer deaths without medical attention

  1. Jun 30, 2006 #1


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Something that always gets me is when people come out saying 'blah blah blah the medical establishment doesnt want to cure you' and when people go 'look at radiation/chemo, people look pale and sickly and look how many of them die anyways'. You also have these 'natural methods' saying look how many people survived without the medical establishment, etc etc. This brings me to the question of how many people, by %, live beyond expectation on these pseudoscience methods vs. how many people live beyond the same expectation while taking traditional medicines vs. how many people live beyond the same expectation with no treatment at all?

    The idea of blaming "big pharma" is becoming front page news, that treudoe guy is a best seller, and peoples anecdotal evidence is all there seems to be in the general public. I always want to know the non-pop culture viewpoint on things and having a godparent on chemo, i would like to know what's the reality on such problems.

    I put cancer in the thread topic because that normally seems to be the most publicized problem and hte problem that everyone seems to have hteir own opinion on but this really applies to all serious illnesses.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 1, 2006 #2
    I don't have any direct answers to your questions. But I can tell you some of those people are "rude". Sometimes I heard some people debating cancer in my own mother tongue and truly they sound terrible.
    Cancer to me is basically a disorder of cell growth but who knows originally how we become sick. Looking for such a correct answer in despair may be the main reason. At times, it turns out to be a way people make use of to earn a living. Cancer treatment is a way to give patients some hope to live longer without any guarantee that the disease can be then completely cured, which is why patients need to have themselves re-check from time to time. Blaming "big pharma" is thus truly mistaken...
  4. Jul 1, 2006 #3


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    All I can do is relay my own experience.
    6 years ago I was diagnosed with renal cancer. At the time of my diagnosis I was having pain. (this is what prompted me to go to the doctor in the first place.)
    I had surgery to remove my right kidney, and have been cancer and symptom free ever since.
  5. Jul 1, 2006 #4
    A friend of mine went to the emergency room thinking he had a kidney stone that was causing his back pain. They found a 14cm(yes cm) tumor that engulfed his right kidney. It had apparently been there a while. He had episodes of back pain for about five years and thought it was muscle pain. They removed the kidney a year ago and put him on a low sodium diet. He lost a lot of weight but seems to be doing fine now. I am glad you are doing so well.
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2006
  6. Jul 1, 2006 #5


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    All this anecdotal information was exactly the kind of thing i wasn't looking for haha
  7. Jul 1, 2006 #6
    The mortality rate for untreated cancer would depend on the type of cancer. I doubt if there are many if any double blind studies comparing conventional treatment vs. no treatment vs. home remedies for a serious illness. You could probably find some studies of untreated slow growers like prostate cancer.
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2006
  8. Jul 1, 2006 #7


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Well i basically want to know (if its even possible to track) which has a better survival rate. Lets say (and im just pulling these numbers outa nowhere) we're talking about liver cancer and lets say that the rate of people living for 5 years with it is 5% (as in 5 out of 100 people are still alive after 5 years). What i would want to know is what is the 5 year rate of survival for people who use chemo/radiation/mainstream pharmacutical treatments and what would be the 5 year rate of survival for people who do these 'alternative methods' instead of traditional mainstream methods.

    I know theres probably a lot of factors but it'd be interesting to know how "effective" these alternatives are and how "non-effective" mainstream medical procedures are.
  9. Jul 1, 2006 #8
    You can't go on single testimonies as a way to validate a treatment or not.
    I can tell you a billion of these stories but there is no statistical value to them because each case is individual.

    I can tell you that at the Cancer Research and Care facility I was employed at for over 10 years (BC CancerAgency) there were stats taken that showed the facility to be the most successful in raising the survival rate of its patients as compared to the rest of Canada.

    During around 5 years of the introduction of a Relaxation (neurolinguistic programming) Program the survival stats broke a record and there was a rate of 60% (up 20% compared to previous years) survival.

    Survival is a trick way to define success since survival can mean the patient has lived 3 months or 30 years longer than expected.

    Imagine how caught up an accontant gets in balancing the books. They'll shuffle stats here and there just to make it happen. That is what happens with hosptials. If there is an inkling of success anywhere... its used to bolster the rating of the treatment and subsequently the institute.

    The single, individual cases I can recall go like this:

    Friend's father had esophageal cancer. Radiation and surgery stopped it. 2 years later it had metastasized to many other organs of his body and he died... ending the cancer. The metastasis was the result of the surgeon missing a few cancer cells that floated through the blood stream and lodged in capilaries or arterioles and began growing again.

    A boy was (generously) given 6 months to live because of the tumour or condition he had and he sought alternative treatment... something called "flouridization" in conjunction with other herbal and diet regimens. His condition went into remission for a year... absolutely symptom free.

    He went to his original oncologist at the hospital and the doctor said... "ah, now your strong enough for the chemotherapy that will rid you of this forever". The kid was convinced, somehow, and died soon after treatment... for some reason.

    My good friend the Medical Physicist told me to never quit smoking all together after having done so for a long time. He said this because he had done his own statistical analysis of patients who had stopped smoking completely and those who did not... completely. What he found was that the cold turkeyed patients had a higher rate of cancer than people who paired down to the occassional ciggy.

    The list is endless. I can say that if you get a doctor who is about to tell you you're going to die in 3 months... the best treatment for this condition is to put your fingers in your ears and sing. The power of suggestion is under-rated and poorly understood.

    That is... the power of suggestion is poorly understood except by those who make it thier method to rake in the cash at whatever cost to the populice. For instance... how many people are educated enough to know that there is no such thing as "acid reflux"? If you've seen the bombardment of commercials claiming it exists and that there's a pill to cure it then you know what I'm talking about. Suddenly, every burp is "acid reflux" and, as uneducated as I am, I'm off to the store to buy the pill. Ka ching.

    Cancer deaths without medical attention are hard to follow since there has been no record of their condition and autopsies are not focused unless ordered to be so focused.

    I can tell you that radiation will hoop anyone trying to survive a "cancer" they think they have. The radiation seals the fate of the patient because it further mutates the DNA of all the cells in the area being irradiated. This is, in my opinion, like throwing gasoline on a fire. This is because unorgainized growth is caused by an existing mutation in a cells DNA that is expressed and that shuts down the P52 gene and extends the life of the telomeres of the chromosomes. Further mutation brought about by radiation causes very unpredictable behaviour in surviving cells.

    One such case went very sideways and the resulting 8 months of maximum pain before death could have been avoided without the prescription of radiation treatments. Who is really benefiting from this practice?
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2006
  10. Jul 1, 2006 #9


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Like i said, anecdotal evidence is pointless.
  11. Jul 1, 2006 #10
    Here's an article on 4 different ethnic groups and their approach to treating breast cancer... many times failing to be diagnosed by a medical practitioner:

    From: http://jncicancerspectrum.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/jnci;92/1/42

    It is a big mixed bag that would require years of studies and follow up studies to come up with stats on non-medically treated metastasis and its consequences. This is especially true when it comes to the various ways in which disease is treated by different ethnic groups. It is even further complicated when different regions with different histories and their diverse flouras and faunas and the multitude of uses derived from them is considered.
  12. Jul 1, 2006 #11
    One more bit of info on treatment vs non-treatment:

    "January 22, 1998 -- Radiation treatment for breast cancer raises slightly a woman's long-term risk for esophageal cancer, according to a study by epidemiologists at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

    The study was conducted by examining the records of more than 220,000 breast cancer patients diagnosed between 1973 and 1993. The group included both patients who received radiation therapy and those who did not.

    Ten or more years after diagnosis, irradiated patients were roughly four to five times more likely to develop esophageal cancer than non-irradiated patients or women in the general population, according to Ahsan and his co-investigator, Alfred Neugut, MD, PhD, associate professor of clinical medicine and public health at Columbia-Presbyterian.

    This is the first study to link radiation therapy for breast cancer with an increased risk for esophageal cancer."


    "All authorities agree that radiation therapy does not improve the survival of patients with breast cancer." Dr Richard A. Evans, M.D.


    This is just one specific area of malplasia.
  13. Jul 1, 2006 #12


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Yah.... none of this is actually asnwering my question. I'm not looking for whether or not an asian person gets alternative medicine vs. a black person or whether or not a cancer treatment increases the risks of another type of cancer.
  14. Jul 1, 2006 #13


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    I think the problem with finding any such studies is if a person isn't under traditional medical care, there is no tracking being done. Some cancers have higher success rates than others. It also depends on how early the cancer is detected and the correct treatment given. I think people that claim being healed of cancer by non-medical treatment is a sham. I've never read of a documented case.

    They may have been mis-diagnosed.
  15. Jul 2, 2006 #14


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    It's really going to depend on the disease, when it is diagnosed, and what "expectation" you have of survival.

    For example, breast cancer has a good prognosis if caught early enough. We have quite an arsenal of weapons to fight that form of cancer, including the simple ability to detect it early, before it has spread. We have surgical intervention, chemotherapy, tamoxifen and other anti-estrogens for the hormone-responsive cancers, and so on. Compared to doing nothing, the medical options do offer a better chance of a full recovery and longer, better quality life. (Often, quality of life is as much of an issue as length of life...nobody would be too impressed with living 20 years longer if you're going to be bedridden and feeling sick for all of it.)

    On the other hand, some cancers have rather poor prognoses, either because they are not very accessible for treatment, or because they don't cause serious enough illness until they have progressed to a very late stage, so don't get detected early. Those are the ones where there is much more of a debate of whether treatment is worthwhile. Some will take the chance that they'll be one of the lucky ones that the chemo will work for, and others instead take the attitude that they're unlikely to survive either way, and would rather not suffer the ill side-effects of chemo in the time they have left to be active and enjoy what's left of their life. Again, this can get to quality of life. The chemo might buy them some time, but if they perceive the quality of that time is going to be worse, they won't bother.

    Also, the growth rate of the cancer and the age or other health considerations of the patient can factor in as well. For example, the treatment options might be very different for an 80-yr-old with a slow-growing tumor vs. a 30-yr-old with the same type of tumor. In a 30-yr-old, you might aggressively treat it to stop it while it's small. In the 80-yr-old, you might do nothing because they'll die of something age-related before the tumor becomes large enough to cause any problems.

    As you can see, getting a clear-cut answer to your question is difficult. Even if you look up the clinical trial data, they'll mostly compare a new treatment to a previously used treatment, mainly because it's more ethical to conduct a study where people either get the already proven treatment or a new, promising one, rather than comparing a new drug to a placebo. If it's better than placebo, but not better than an already existing treatment, it still doesn't do much good.
  16. Jul 22, 2006 #15


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Just my two cents.

    In 1949 a diagnosis of leukemia was a death sentence.

    Advancements in "traditional" medicine (chemo, bone marrow transplant, etc.) now means that 40 percent of all adult leukemia patients, and 80 percent of children (with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the most common form) live long, healthy lives. (In the 1940s these kids all died.) More than 80 percent of Hodgkin's disease patients are cured. This is due to the "traditional" and not "natural homeopathic medicines".

    Do we have any good double blinded placebo controlled trials comparing the two? None that I know of. Should we? Yes.

    Much of our advancements now are due to good early detection : (Ie: a colonoscopy that removes an tubular adenoma before it transforms into colon cancer is technically 100% curative of a potential colon cancer..... afterwards you need surveillance every 3-5 years of course.) Pap smears when done yearly catches cervical cancer at such an early stage it is essentially curable.

    Now if my patient was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer or adenometous carcinoma of the gallbladder and I Know that "traditional medicine" only prolongs their life no more than six months, I would probably reccomend they try alternative treatments on the chance they are superior to our "traditional medicine". (Afterall, tamoxifen was a "natural treatment method" utilised by natives derived from the pacific yew tree!) In other words, since both cancers have a 100% mortality, doing nothing or alternative medicines is as good as getting aggressive "traditional" medicine.

    If you are diagnosed with breast cancer, and "traditional treatment" results in cure of over 50% (meaning disease free for over twenty years for all breast cancers, although some have better stats .) I would probably recommend "traditional" treatment (lumpectomy, and or radiation, or chem or arimidex, tamoxifen etc. depending on type of breast ca.) over "alternative" treatments.
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2006
  17. Jul 22, 2006 #16


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member
    Dearly Missed

    Just a follow up on Monique's:
    The mass of statistics on UNTREATED cancer is most probably found in the time period 1870-1950
    That is, roughly the period when diagnostic tools and systematic statistical registering where available, but when few, if any, effective treatments existed.

    In general, however, cancer was previously regarded with horror as a particularly malign death sentence.

    As of today, these data are probably accessible, under piles of dust somewhere.

    One such possible place to start looking, is in journals where the effects of radiation treatment where first studied (1920's??).

    I just looked up in "Meyer's Konversationslexicon" from the 1890's. At that time, the primary treatments were surgical removals of tumors along with some witches' brew containing arsenic.

    From the article it seems however, that palliative treatment was what one had most "success" with....
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2006
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?

Similar Discussions: Cancer deaths without medical attention
  1. Cancer and the sexes (Replies: 4)

  2. Plant cancer (Replies: 2)