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Dr. Burzynski's and the Canadian site visit

Scott Ballantyne Feb 25, 1996 3:00 AM
Posted in group: sci.skeptic
In <4g0355$> (Steven
B. Harris/Virginia George ) writes:

>In <4fvqec$> (Stephen
Dunn) writes:
>>We also have Burzynski's published clinical results,


Allow me:

Burzynski SR  Stolzmann Z  Szopa B  Stolzmann E  Kaltenberg OP  
In: Physiol Chem Phys (1977) 9(6):485-500

Antineoplaston A (ANA), a peptide from human urine, was given to 21
  patients with far-advanced tumors who were followed for 1-9 mo. Most
  were resistant to chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy. ANA caused
  complete remissions (CR) in 2/2 patients with Grade III transitional
  cell carcinomas of the bladder, 1/6 with advanced breast cancer, and
  a child with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. ANA caused partial
  remissions (PR) in 2/3 patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia
  (CLL), 1/2 with rectal adenocarcinoma, and a 20-yr-old man with lung
  metastases from synovial sarcoma. Six patients (1 each with breast
  cancer, rectal adenocarcinoma, undifferentiated ovarian tumor,
  squamous cell carcinoma of the tongue or cervix, and Ewing's sarcoma)
  showed stabilization of disease (SD). The patients with tongue cancer
  and Ewing's sarcoma relapsed within about 2 mo. All of the PR
  patients and 4/6 SD patients were continuing to improve at the time
  of report. It was hoped that the SD patients would reach a PR and the
  PR patients a CR. Five patients died during treatment, but not of
  cancer or toxicity; 2/5 showed significant tumor regression at
  autopsy. ANA caused marked central necrosis of solid tumors. Most
  patients showed a transient increase of WBC and platelet counts after
  about 1 mo of treatment. Some had a febrile syndrome, apparently
  caused by tumor cell breakdown. The recommended treatment is
  continuous iv infusion (1.2 units/m**2/day, gradually increased to 33
  units/m**2 or the development of fever) for about 1 mo, followed by
  lower doses (0.6 units, 2x/wk) im or rectally. ANA caused no
  significant toxicity at the doses used (0.6-33 units/m**2/day, iv,
  im, rectally, intrapleurally, intravesically, or topically). (14

If one were to take Burzynski's word for it, this sounds pretty
good. It's not necessary to do that because the interesting thing
about this citation is that there was a site visit done in 1982 by a
team of Canadian physicians at the request of the Ministry of Health
in Ontario who made a point of following up on the cases of complete
remission reported by Burzynski. The physicians were Blackstein and
Bergsagel. Blackstein is a M.D. and a PhD and at the time of the visit
was the head of the Division of Oncology at Mount Sinai Hospital in
Toronto, as well as an associate professor at the University of
Toronto. Daniel Bergsagel was a full professor of medicine at UofT and
the Chief of Medicine at Princess Margaret Hospital.  Several other
physicians were consulted in the course of the development of this
report. Here's the applicable portion:

  "We made a point of asking Dr. Burzynski about the current status of
   the 4 patients who had achieved a complete remission. One was a
   14-year-old boy with acute lymphoblastic leukemia who had been
   treated with a large dose of Methotrexate, and continued on
   Prednisone while Antineoplaston injections were given. Apparently
   he did improve with this therapy, but the remission lasted for only
   a few weeks, and he died 8 weeks later with recurrence of the
   leukemia. The clinical improvement likely resulted from the
   Methotrexate and Prednisone therapy given shortly before the
   Antineoplaston was started.

   A patient with breast cancer was apparently free of disease when
   Antineoplaston was started. This patient shortly relapsed and has
   since died with metastatic breast cancer.

   A patient with multiple bladder tumors was treated with
   Antineoplaston. The tumors have since recurred, and he has died
   of his disease.

   The only surviving patient had a solitary bladder tumor. This type
   of bladder tumor is usually treated with cautery at the time of
   cystoscopy. Although Dr. Burzynski does not state this in his
   report, I suspect that this b ladder tumor disappeared as a result
   of the biopsy when he was cystoscoped. This patient is still

This pretty much speaks for itself. Meanwhile, there is more in this
report. The MDs asked Burzynski to present best examples chosen by
him. Here are some comments on the cases Burzynski present3ed:

   "The commonest problem we encountered was the fact that patients
   had received effective treatment before they were referred to
   Houston, and were responding slowly to this
   treatment. Dr. Burzynski started Antineoplaston, and falsely
   credited the Antineoplaston with the therapeutic response that was
   observed. We will quote two examples of this type of the problem:

        1. A woman with Stage III carcinoma of the cervix had received
           full doses of radiation therapy to the pelvis prior to
           consulting Dr. Burzynski. When he saw her there was still
           some necrotic tumor in the cervix. A Pap. smear of the
           cervis showed extensive radiation changes in the epithelial
           cells, and possibly some carcinomatous cells, but the
           Cytologist could not be sure that there was viable tumor in
           the specimen he examined. The patient was started on
           Antineoplaston, the necrotic tumor gradually disappeared,
           and the epithellium of the vagina and cervix have healed,
           and the patient now feels very well. All of this
           improvement should be attributed to the prior radiation
           therapy rather than to the Antineoplaston therapy.

        2. A patient with carcinoma of the prostate was found to have
           bone metastases on a bone scan. An orchiectomy was done two
           months before the patient was referred to Houston. The
           patient was started on Antineoplaston, and repeat bone
           scans at a later date showed improvement. A slow response
           such as this is characteristic of the orchiectomy response
           in patients with carcinoma of the prostate.

   We were surprised that Dr. Burzynski would show us such
   questionable cases. We were left with the impression that either he
   knows very little about cancer and the response of different tumors
   to radiation and hormonal measures, or else he thinks that we are
   very stupid, and he has tried to hoodwink us.

   As we look back over the cases were were shown, we are left with
   the impression that the only patients who are still alive either
   had slowly growing tumors, or had received effective treatment
   before being referred to Houston."

The conclusions of the Canadian site visit time were summarized as:

   "After reviewing 20 case reports, selected by Dr. Burzynski as his
   best examples of clear cut responses to Antineoplastons we were
   unable to identify a single case in which therapeutic benefit could
   be attributed to Antineoplaston."


   "We believe that it is unethical to administer unproven agents such
   as Antineoplastons to patients without satisfying the requirements
   of the FDA and an ethics committee, that the minimum standards for
   human experimentation are being met. We also believe that it is
   immoral to charge patients for this unproven, experimental