Dr. Weeks’ Comment: What is a quack? Are oncologists quacks? Let’s take a look:
“…An exhaustive analysis of cancer treatment in the United States and Australia showed that the five-year survival rate for all patients was about 63 percent but that chemotherapy contributed barely 2 percent to this result. There is a long list of cancers for which chemotherapy had zero discernible effect, including multiple myeloma, soft-tissue sarcoma, melanoma of the skin, and cancers of the pancreas, uterus, prostate, bladder, and kidney…” (full article here)
If any current branch of medicine fulfills the criteria of a quack (aside from psychiatry), it is the oncologists who know that their drugs offer benefit primarily to their own pocketbooks, while offering more harm than good to trusting and frightened patients.
And consider the costs!! (click here and here) More than 100 U.S. oncologists are publicly objecting to the ever-growing cost of cancer drugs. NPR’s Robert Siegel speaks to Dr. Ayalew Tefferi of the Mayo Clinic about efforts to bring prices down here
Now, read the Wikipedia account of quackery
(emphasis -CAPITAL AND UNDERLINED is mine and my comments are in parentheses)
“In determining whether a person is committing quackery, the central question is what is acceptable evidence for the efficacy and safety of whatever treatments, cures, regimens, or procedures the alleged quack advocates.” (oncology fails this test – see this link !)
Since it is difficult to distinguish between those who knowingly promote unproven medical therapies and those who are mistaken as to their effectiveness, US courts have ruled in defamation cases that accusing someone of quackery or calling a practitioner a quack is not equivalent to accusing that person of committing medical fraud. To be both quackery and fraud, the quack must know they are misrepresenting the benefits and risks of the medical services offered (instead of, for example, promoting an ineffective product they honestly believe is effective). (see these links for the real story…
In addition to the ethical problems of promising benefits that can not reasonably be expected to occur, quackery also includes the risk that patients may choose to forego treatments that are more likely to help them, in favor of ineffective treatments given by the “quack”.
Stephen Barrett‘s Quackwatch defines the practice this way:
To avoid semantic problems, quackery could be broadly defined as “anything involving overpromotion in the field of health.” (see this link) This definition would include questionable ideas as well as questionable products and services, regardless of the sincerity of their promoters. In line with this definition, the word “fraud” would be reserved only for situations in which deliberate deception is involved.
Paul Offit has proposed four ways in which alternative medicine (or to be fair any medicine) “becomes quackery”:
- “…by recommending against conventional therapies that are helpful.” (chemo is not helpful nope!)
- “…by promoting potentially harmful therapies without adequate warning.” (see this)
- “…by draining patients’ bank accounts,...” (see this and this and this and this)
- “…by promoting magical thinking,…”
As regards magical thinking… oncologist allow patients to take chemo 10x more times than they themselves would choose to take chemo if they, the doctors, were sick!
Patients need very small benefits to find cancer chemotherapy worthwhile.
Cancer patients only needed only 1% chance of benefit to want an intensive chemotherapy regimen described with many side effects.
Nurses needed 50% chance, and doctors needed a 10% chance, general public needed 50% chance of benefit.
If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…