"The body itself has a treatment for cancer," says Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski. The Polish-born physician-biochemist, based in Houston, Texas, discovered that a group of peptides (short chains of amino acids) and amino-acid derivatives occurring naturally throughout our bodies inhibit the growth of cancer cells. In his view, these substances are part of a "biochemical defense system" completely different from our immune system. Unlike the immune system, which protects us by destroying invading agents or defective cells, the biochemical defense system reprograms, or corrects, defective cells. It carries "good" information to abnormal cells, instructing them to develop normally.
Dr. Burzynski named these peptides "antineoplaston"s because of their ability to inhibit neoplastic, or cancerous, cell growth. He discovered that cancer patients have a drastic shortage of these compounds in their bodies-blood samples of advanced cancer patients reveal only 2 to 3 percent of the amount typically found in healthy individuals. By simply reintroducing the peptides into the patient's bloodstream, either orally or intravenously, he brings about tumor shrinkage or complete remission. In many cases, just weeks after the start of treatment, tumors have shrunk in size or disappeared. Most types of cancer reportedly respond to the therapy, which is safe and nontoxic. The natural substances used are well tolerated by the body, even in high doses, without any of the disastrous side effects routinely associated with toxic chemotherapy and radiation.
Since the Burzynski Research Institute (BRI) opened in 1977, Dr. Burzynski has treated some 2,000 cancer patients, most of them in advanced stages. He has saved or prolonged hundreds of lives with his innovative approach. A significant number of persons treated have been in complete remission for five years or more, even though they were pronounced "terminal" or "incurable" by their conventional doctors. However, Dr. Burzynski advises that antineoplaston treatments are not effective against all types of cancer nor for all patients.
A front-page article in the July-August 1990 issue of Oncology News was devoted to antineoplastons, "a completely new type of antitumor agent that is nontoxic and seems to make malignant cancer cells revert to normal." Dvorit Samid, Ph.D., a Bethesda, Maryland, researcher, was quoted as saying, "Such a dramatic phenomenon is seldom seen.... I am very excited about these findings." This report on the Ninth International Symposium on Future Trends in Chemotherapy, held in Geneva, Switzerland, presented favorable preclinical and clinical results achieved with antineoplaston therapy by researchers from Japan, Poland, China, and the United States.
A complete remission in a Japanese patient with inoperable metastatic ovarian cancer and complete remissions in American patients with advanced prostate cancer were among the results presented. These types of cancer are very rarely cured by conventional forms of treatment.
Some of the most exciting results obtained with antineoplastons have been with the tumors that usually do not respond to chemotherapy, radiation, or immunotherapy. These include malignant brain tumors (astrocytoma, stages III and IV, and glioblastoma), advanced cancer of the prostate, certain forms of lung cancer, bladder cancer, and even cancer of the pancreas. For example, in a Phase II trial involving astrocytoma, a highly malignant form of brain cancer, twenty patients-nearly all of them in advanced stages of the disease -- were treated with antineoplastons. All but one had received and failed prior standard therapies.
Four patients achieved complete remission, and two others, partial remission. Ten other patients showed objective stabilization (less than 50 percent decrease of tumor size). Since the end of this study, in May 1990, some of the ten patients classified as stabilized have achieved complete or partial remission.1
Clinical studies are also underway with patients in Poland. Researchers in Japan, Great Britain, Italy, the United States, and China have reproduced and are expanding Dr. Burzyoski's preclinical work. In September 1990, the Burzynski Research Institute entered into a letter of intent with Ferment, a major Soviet pharmaceutical firm, to conduct clinical trials with antineoplastons on cancer patients in the Soviet Union.
While Burzynski's breakthroughs are being eagerly pursued abroad, here in the United States, where he lives and sees patients, the doctor has been the target of an ill-informed, multipronged attack aimed at discrediting him and closing down his clinic. Despite the fact that he has published 150 scientific papers and holds twenty patents for antineoplaston treatment covering sixteen countries, his work has been dismissed as quackery by such interlocking government agencies and private-sector vested-interest groups as the Food and Drug Administration and the American Cancer Society. Close-minded oncologists, when asked by their patients about Dr. Burzynski, have said that he has published nothing. Some insurance companies have sent pleasantly worded form letters denying all payment for his services.
The American Cancer Society in 1983 put Burzynski's antineoplaston therapy on its Unproven Methods blacklist, where it remains to this day. Yet, as Ralph Moss notes in The Cancer Industry, the ACS's condemnatory report on the therapy "included data which undercut its own conclusions," such as the fact that 86 percent of far-advanced cancer patients treated with antineoplastons showed clinical improvement in one 1977 study! Four patients (19 percent) had complete remission, and another four had partial remission. Yet the ACS twisted the facts and said it "does not have evidence that treatment with antineoplaston results in objective benefit."2
The FDA filed suit against Dr. Burzynski in March 1983 in an attempt to drive him out of business. It ordered Burzynski and his institute to stop all further research, development, manufacture, and use of antineoplastons. A federal judge allowed the doctor to continue his research and treatment within the state of Texas but ruled that he could not ship the drugs across state lines.
In July 1985, FDA agents and federal marshals, armed with an illegal search warrant to look for vague "violations," raided the Burzynski Research Institute and seized over 200,000 confidential documents, including private medical records. They went through Dr. Burzynski's personal correspondence and rifled his briefcase. The federal officers loaded eleven of his filing cabinets onto their truck in an outrageous violation of his (and patients') constitutional and civil liberties. Dr. Burzynski sued the FDA for the return of his records, but all the documents remain in the FDA's hands to this day.
The Texas State Board of Medical Examiners tried to revoke Burzynski's medical license in 1988 on hairsplitting technical charges that had no connection whatsoever with the quality of care he provides. Hundreds of letters of support were sent to the board by Burzynski's patients and their families and friends. The following letter from a Midwestern teenager was typical:
I am 13 years old and I have a 7 year old brother. We love our father very much. Thanks to Dr. Burzynski's treatment, my father's tumor has stopped growing. All of the doctors in my home state of Missouri said there was no cure for my father's disease. Dr. Burzynski gave him a chance for life again. Please don't take that away from us.
The board's investigation has been slowed but not stopped.
For five years, the Justice Department has unsuccessfully sought an indictment against Dr. Burzynski on trumped-up charges of mail fraud. This investigation has been centered not on the treatment's efficacy but on how insurance is billed by the clinic. The charges are not based on any patient's complaint nor on harm caused to any patient. BRI and Aetna Life Insurance Company have sued each other; the outcome is pending.
To the American medical monopoly, Dr. Burzynski and his therapy are a threat in at least three ways. First, if his theory about a biochemical defense system separate from the immune system is correct, the biology textbooks will have to be rewritten. His theory is revolutionary in its implications. Second, although he is an alternative healer, Burzynski plays by the rules, publishing his findings openly and widely in the peer-reviewed medical literature, which makes it much harder to smear him as a quack. Third, and most important, his safe, nontoxic cancer treatment, with its tremendous promise, is perceived as a threat by the mega-billion-dollar cancer business with its vested monetary interests in toxic chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. Orthodox doctors and the huge drug companies would not welcome a safe, relatively inexpensive cancer cure- such as naturally occurring peptides, an herbal brew, or something similar-that can't be marketed to reap superprofits.
At present, antineoplaston therapy is not cheap. The monthly minimum cost of outpatient treatment is between $3,000 and $5,000, excluding the expense of room and board in Houston, transportation, and so forth. The minimum length of treatment time is averaging from four months to one year. The costs are spelled out in detail in the Burzynski Clinic's patient brochure. A number of insurance companies accept antineoplaston treatment for full or partial reimbursement.
The treatment costs reflect the enormous expenses involved in developing and manufacturing the drugs, which are produced by BRI without the advantages enjoyed by the big pharmaceutical companies. However, if antineoplastons ever gain wide acceptance and are mass-produced by a big pharmaceutical company, the cost to the patient would drop drastically.
Ten-year-old Ryan Werthwein was diagnosed by doctors in August 1989 with advanced (Stage IV) thalamic glioblastoma, a brain tumor with the highest grade of malignancy. Under conventional care, persons with this type of cancer usually don't live longer than six to nine months after diagnosis. This cancer is considered incurable.
Orthodox doctors told Ryan's parents that the boy, an identical twin from Marlboro, New Jersey, had six months to a year to live. If Ryan took a highly toxic experimental drug, the doctors said, he might survive a year, just possibly a year and a half, but in a progressively debilitated condition. Ryan underwent radiation therapy for five weeks starting in early October, but it proved ineffective. The tumor remained the same size, as indicated by a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan of the brain in January 1990. "The radiation burnt out most of Ryan's pituitary gland, stunted his growth, and hurt his mental functioning," according to Sharon Werthwein, the boy's mother. "We were never told about radiation's possible long-term effects."
After reading up extensively on alternative therapies, Ryan's parents decided to forego chemotherapy and take their son to Houston for treatment by Dr. Burzynski. "The doctors really beat us up over not doing chemo. We were discouraged at every turn from pursuing a safe, nontoxic alternative. They also told us Burzynski was a quack," recalls Sharon. "The American Cancer Society said they have an arrangement with the Hilton to keep rooms available for cancer patients' families, but when we mentioned Dr. Burzynski's name, they said to 'forget it.' The Corporate Angel Network, which boasts in TV ads how it flies young cancer patients around the country for free, refused to fly our son because the National Cancer Institute won't let them fly Burzynski's patients. The system is a disgrace."
Ryan's treatment with antineoplastons began in mid-April 1990. One month after the intravenous infusions were started, there was a major breakdown of the tumor mass, and from then on, it steadily shrank as the therapy continued. "It felt as if a miracle had occurred," says Sharon. An MRI scan of the brain on May 15-after four weeks of treatment-showed only barely visible tumor remnants. On November 1, 1990, Ryan displayed complete remission. Subsequent MRI scans have shown him to be cancer-free.
"When I called the radiologist to tell him the good news, he said, 'I thought you were calling to tell me your son had passed away,'" says Sharon. "In utter disbelief, he begged me to come in the next day with my son's brain scan. After inspecting it, he admitted that he had never seen anything like this before but refused to discuss his earlier negative evaluation of Dr. Burzynski."