Fact-Checked: Chemotherapy Fails 97% Of The Time? NO!

The “2% Gambit”, namely the claim that chemo works less than 3% of the time, shows up in a blog post by Chris Wark [1]. Many of Chris Wark’s followers have been influenced by Wark’s numerous negative statements such as “Chemotherapy is poison that will hurt my body and destroy my immune system” and they repeat that meme in comment sections of Youtube videos and Facebook groups. “Chemo fails 97% of the time and should be banned!”

Fact-Checked:

The following video is an in-depth analysis of the false claim that chemotherapy fails 97% of the time.

Snopes.com[2] published a well referenced debunking of this meme citing it as false:

The key information that none of these alternative health sites presented regarding Dr. Hardin’s statements on the efficacy of chemotherapy was that they were based on work published in the Transactions of the New York Academy of Sciences way back in 1956, and a paper (not a study) titled “A Report on Cancer” that he presented at a science writers’ conference on 7 March 1969. All of this material is fifty to sixty years out of date, and Hardin himself passed away in 1978, so even if he had researched cancer and chemotherapy until his dying days, all of his findings would now be upwards of forty years old. In the field of medical science that’s a huge time difference, as exemplified by the plethora of now standard medical technologies that didn’t emerge until 1978 or later: in vitro fertilization, MRI machines, the identification of HIV, hepatitis vaccines, the first draft of the human genome, etc.

Dr. David Gorski of Sciencebasedmedicine.com[3] also debunked this meme in detail.

The bottom line is that, contrary to what you will hear from cranks and alt-med supporters who believe in “alternative” cancer cures, in the case of early stage breast cancer, chemotherapy saves lives. In women with breast cancer, it decreases the risk of their dying from breast cancer by approximately one-third. This is nothing to sneeze at, as it means thousands upon thousands of women who would have died but did not, thanks to chemotherapy. This study simply represents yet another in a long line of studies, another strand in the web of evidence that support the efficacy of chemotherapy in prolonging the lives of women with breast cancer. It’s not perfect, and it has a lot of potential complications, but it works. This is but one example.

“So how effective is chemotherapy? What makes this question hard to answer is that there are over 200 chemotherapies or cancer related drugs. Not every drug is equally as effective and some cancers are more easily treated than others. What we can say is that chemotherapy can be an effective tool against cancers, especially when used in conjunction with other treatments. This has been shown throughout history with multiple examples of chemotherapeutic drugs drastically increasing survival rate in and even outright curing certain kinds of cancer.” https://www.metabunk.org/debunked-dr-peter-glidden-chemoth…/

 

[1] https://www.chrisbeatcancer.com/why-i-didnt-do-chemo/
[2] https://www.snopes.com/…/chemotherapy-doctor-blows-the-whi…/
[3] https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/chemotherapy-doesnt-work/

Additional resources: https://scienceblogs.com/…/…/two-percent-gambit-chemotherapy

Chemotherapy doesn’t work? Not so fast… (A lesson from history)

https://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2013/10/30/so-chemotherapy-does-work-after-all-revisited
https://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2016/08/04/combatting-the-stereotype-of-oncologists-anxious-to-administer-toxic-chemotherapy

Fact-Checked: Wark’s Statement That “Stage 1 Breast Cancer is a Myth” Has No Basis in Facts and Truth

Abstract:

Chris Wark’s statement in the video that “stage 1 breast cancer is technically stage 4” is a pernicious falsehood that has absolutely no basis in science.   Science has Good News though!  Read on.

The Claim:

Starting at 12:06 in the “How April Healed Stage 4 Breast Cancer with Nutrition and Cannabis” video, published to Youtube in June 2018:

Basically by the time you are Stage 1 you already have cancer cells that have left that site and are in other parts of your body even if you don’t have active tumors yet.  So Stage 1 is really technically already Stage 4. There are already cancer cells in other parts of your body even if they haven’t set up tumors yet. That’s a long way of me explaining to anyone listening that, uh Stage 1 is just sorta like a myth.

Fact-Checked:

1. Chris Wark gives absolutely no research references whatsoever to validate his statement.  That should raise a red flag immediately.

2. Chris has made a declarative statement that ALL Stage 1 breast cancers are metastatic.  He may be basing his statement on a commonly cited breast cancer statistic that circulates in blogs, breast cancer forums, news articles and even a few research articles that “30% of all early-stage breast cancers will progress, despite treatment, to deadly metastatic disease”.  Many metastatic breast cancer support groups use this statistic, often repeatedly stated in their videos, to lobby for increasing research funding into metastatic breast cancer.  Example below.

 

The problem? There is no science-based evidence of this statistic being true.

Blogger Ann Silberman, who has Stage 4 metastatic breast cancer, spent 7 months researching the origin of the “30% metastatic recurrence rate” meme. Her conclusion was that there was no citation nor study which substantiated the statistic.  You can read her detailed research on her popular blog But Doctor I Hate Pink.   Nick Mulcahy, in an August 2015 article titled “The Mystery of a Common Breast Cancer Statistic” for Medscape.com, concurred with Ann Silberman stating, “A commonly cited breast cancer statistic — that 30% of all early-stage breast cancers will progress, despite treatment, to deadly metastatic disease — appears to have no strong contemporary evidence to back it up.”

I don’t think it helps our cause as advocates for women with metastatic cancer to repeat misinformation. I also think that certain groups (K*ough*omen) deliberately misuse statistics for their own purposes, stats that were never meant to be used the way they are and which are now misunderstood by everybody.  Ann Silberman

3. If this statement were true, “..at Stage 1 you already have cancer cells that have left that site and are in other parts of your body…”, conventional medical doctors would be prescribing chemotherapy and radiation for EVERY case of cancer regardless of staging.

Clearly Chris either is unaware of or does not understand Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy (SLNB) and the mechanism by which metastatic cells spread.

In the 1940s, studies by Gilchrist [1] and Zeidman and Buss [2] demonstrated that metastatic cells spread through regional lymphatics in an orderly and reproducible manner, thus paving way for the evolution of SLNB. The sentinel lymph node (SLN) is the initial nodes that drains the lymph from a particular organ before draining into subsequent nodes (non-SLNs) with  the science being that metastatic cancer cells migrate through the lymphatic system first.

A sentinel lymph node biopsy is a procedure that was developed to identify metastasis of  cancer to the lymph nodes. The first lymph node to encounter cancer cells is the sentinel lymph node. In a sentinel node biopsy, surgeons remove only this initial lymph node, the sentinel lymph node.  Radiographers identify the sentinel lymph node with a dye.   A negative Sentinel Node biopsy usually means all other lymph nodes are cancer free and that means no chemotherapy is recommended .  Prior to SLNB, a common treatment for breast cancer and melanoma was to remove dozens of lymph nodes as a precaution with no idea as to which ones actually had cancer cells.  In some people I know as many as 40 lymph nodes were removed which can create a side effect of lymphadema whereas SLNB removes from 1-3 nodes.   SLNB are considered extremely accurate, saves the patient additional surgery to remove unnecessary lymph nodes and limits the use of chemotherapy to patients shown to have metastases in lymph nodes.

4.  Do some Stage 1 breast cancers progress to Stage 4?  Yes, they can and the determination of whether this happens depends on the cancer’s oncotype.  The larger the tumor, its hormone receptor status, whether it is HER2 negative or positive, the cancer’s genotype and the grade all factor into a greater risk that a Stage 1 cancer progresses to Stage 4.   But there’s GOOD NEWS!   Chris fearmongers with his “opinion” that all Stage 1 breast cancers are metastatic.  The science tells us something very different.

A Dutch Study published in 2017, following over 7969 patients, found that the percentage of distant metastases in patients having an early stage of breast cancer was 7.8% at the point of diagnosis.  “Early stage” was defined as T1N0, meaning the tumor (T) was stage 1 and there were no nodes(N) found to have metastatic cancer.   However, as the years go by, that risk of a Stage T1N0 breast cancer progressing to Stage 4 declines dramatically to 0.6% at 10 years after diagnosis.  [3]

The Good News gets better! The authors acknowledged that the study used data from the pre-trastuzumab (Herceptin) era, “which may have led to higher recurrence rates for these patients” compared with those diagnosed and treated more recently, after trastuzumab was approved by the European Medicines Agency in 2000 for certain patients with breast cancer.

In the 2014 study of 205,827 women, the authors report that for stage 1, “the conditional 5-year relative survival remained approximately 95% up to 15 years after diagnosis.”  The search authors’ conclusion:  “Patients with stage I or II breast cancer had a (very) good long-term prognosis.” [4]  

An excellent synopsis of the 2014 and 2017 studies can be read HERE.

Conclusion:  92-95% of all Stage 1 breast cancer patients will never progress to stage 4 cancer at diagnosis.  As the years go by disease free, their risk of developing stage 4 cancer declines remarkably to less than 1%.

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1390783/
[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/13160971
[3] https://www.ejcancer.com/article/S0959-8049(18)31093-1/fulltext
[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24201973

Fact Checked: The Industrial Revolution Isn’t The Problem (We’re actually living longer)

The Claim by Chris Wark:

Even though cancer is not a singular disease, there is a singular point in history where the incidence of cancer began to snowball: the Industrial Revolution.   Factories were built to mass-produce everything: fossil fuels, building materials, textiles, furniture, food,chemicals, and all sorts of exciting innovations.  The Industrial Revolution paves the way for all the modern conveniences we enjoy today, including electricity, cars, planes, computers, and smart phones, but it also produced an unfortunate by-product: industrial pollution. [1]

Chris then spends the rest of the chapter detailing cancers he alleges are caused by industrial pollution in order to validate his claim.

Fact-Checked:

The Industrial Revolution also paved the way for an incredible boom in medical advances unlike anything we have seen before.  New antibiotics Penicillin in 1939 , chloramphenicol in 1947, tetracycline in 1948, streptomycin.

“New drugs appeared at an astonishing rate: by 1950, more than half the medicines in common medical use had been unknown merely a decade earlier.

Perhaps even more significant than these miracle drugs, shifts in public health and hygiene also drastically altered the national physiognomy of illness. Typhoid fever, a contagion whose deadly swirl could decimate entire districts in weeks, melted away as the putrid water supplies of several cities were cleansed by massive municipal efforts.  Even tuberculosis, the infamous “white plague” of the nineteenth century, was vanishing, its incidence plummeting by more than half between 1910 and 1940, largely due to better sanitation and public hygiene efforts. The life expectancy of Americans rose from forty-seven to sixty-eight in half a century, a greater leap in longevity than had been achieved over several previous centuries.” [2]

“Cancer had certainly been present and noticeable in nineteenth-century America, but it had largely lurked in the shadow of vastly more common illnesses.  In 1899, when Roswell Park, a well-known Buffalo surgeon, had argued that cancer would someday overtake smallpox, typhoid fever, and tuberculosis to become the leading cause of death in the nation, his remarks had been perceived as a rather “startling prophecy”, the hyperbolic speculations of a man who, after all, spent his days and nights operating on cancer.  But by the end of the decade, Park’s remarks were becoming less and less startling, and more and more prophetic day by day. Typhoid, aside from a few scattered outbreaks, was becoming increasingly rare.  Smallpox was on the decline; by 1949, it would disappear from America altogether.  Meanwhile cancer was already outgrowing other diseases, ratcheting its way up the ladder of killers.  Between 1900 and 1916, cancer-related mortality grew by 29.8 percent, edging out tuberculosis as a cause of death. By 1926, cancer had become the nation’s second most common killer, just behind heart disease. [3]

“Civilization did not cause cancer,” writes oncologist Siddhartha Mukherjee in his book, The Emperor of All Maladies, “but by extending human life spans, civilization unveiled it.”

It was not the Industrial Revolution’s “pollution” that increased the incidences of cancer, it was because we are living longer.  Cancer is the disease of the elderly.

A good supplemental blog post to this is the post “Even Dinosaurs Got Cancer”.

[1] Chris Wark, “Chris Beat Cancer” book, page 24
[2] Siddhartha Mukherjee, “The Emperor of All Maladies”, page 22
[3]Siddhartha Mukherjee, “The Emperor of All Maladies”, page 24

Even Dinosaurs Got Cancer

The claim:

In 2010, research scientists Professor Rosalie David and Professor Michael Zimmerman published a study  on the origins of cancer.  They examined nearly a thousand mummies from ancient Egypt and South America, as well as fossils and ancient medical text, looking for  evidence of cancer in our ancestors.  They only found five cases of tumors out of a thousand mummies, and only one of those tumors was thought to be malignant.

The incidence of cancer has exploded as a result of the significant changes humanity has made to the world in which we live, and the way we live in it.  [1] Page 23

Fact-checked:

There were three published rebuttals to the David/Zimmerman study Chris references.

Bishoy Faltas noted that the authors (David/Zimmerman) mentioned more than 176 confirmed malignancies documented in the archaeological record, not 5, noting that this was “ample evidence that cancer is an ancient natural phenomenon and is not solely a by-product of carcinogens that are abundant in today’s industrial society.”[2]  Faltas further elaborated on the prevalence of malignancies in ancient populations, making a startling revelation that cancer rates in ancient populations were the same as modern populations and in some cases, higher.

Recently, more carefully designed and methodologically sound palaeoepidemiological studies show that malignant tumours in the past were as prevalent as in modern populations. A recent study by Nerlich et al. examined the preserved skeletal remains of 905 individuals from two major ancient Egyptian necropolises spanning 3,200–500 BCE and also those of 2,547 individuals in ancient Germany dating back to 1400–1800 CE. This study established the presence of malignant tumours in spatially and temporarily different populations over the past 4,000 years with an age- and gender-adjusted frequency the same as that of a control group of the English population between 1900 and 1905. Another study from the same group by Zink et al. examined the mummified remains of 325 adults in the ancient Egyptian necropolis of Thebes-west from 1,500 to 500 BCE showed a higher prevalence than the same reference English population mentioned above. We also have evidence from some studies that distinct types of malignant tumours such as multiple myeloma and nasopharyngeal carcinoma occurred at rates that are much higher than those in modern populations.[2]

The second rebuttal was published by researchers from China who questioned David/Zimmerman’s proposal that based on their evidence,  cancer was rare in antiquity. They felt  this conclusion might need further verification as David/Zimmerman neglected the literature and evidence from China.

Cancer in ancient China was first documented in oracles, written in about the fourteenth to the eleventh centuries BCE. In Inner Canon of Yellow Emperor (475–221 BCE), the aetiology, pathology and symptoms of cancer were well documented, and it was proposed that tumorigenesis was associated with maladjustment, dietary factors, body deficiency and depression. The Classic of Mountains and Seas (before 221 BCE), recorded the medicines used for the treatment of cancer, such as seaweed and Thallus Laminariae, which is still used in China today. Documented in Jin Shu (648 CE) is the first recorded exairesis (removal) of cancer. [3]

Cancer Research UK provided the third rebuttal of the David/Zimmeran with an article titled, “Claims that cancer is only a ‘modern, man-made disease’ are false and misleading”[4] citing the following from director of Cancer Information, Dr Lesley Walker:

There isn’t enough evidence presented in the article to make any kind of reliable calculations about cancer rates in ancient populations – and certainly not enough to make bold statements claiming that cancer is “purely man-made”.

The suggestion that cancer was rarer in ancient populations is not surprising at all. But it’s not just because of our modern lifestyles. It’s because we live longer today than at any point in history.

Hundreds or thousands of years ago, life expectancy was short. Many people died in middle age from infectious diseases, and death in childbirth or childhood was also common.

But we know that cancer is mainly a disease of the elderly – three quarters of cases diagnosed in people aged 60 and over, and more than a third (36 per cent) of cases in people aged 75 and over.  So it’s not surprising that cancer was a rare event in populations where people were unlikely to make it past 40.

The likely reason that cancer appears to be a relative newcomer in the historical record is that it most commonly afflicts those 65 and older, and for a long time, few people lived long enough for cancer to become a concern.  A 2017 study of mummies from the Renaissance court of Naples (from the 15th and 16th centuries) revealed that 27% of elderly mummies died of cancer leading the researchers to conclude, “The presence of tumours in the mummies could suggest that the disease is not as strongly connected to modern lifestyle factors as has been thought. ” [5]

“Civilization did not cause cancer,” writes oncologist Siddhartha Mukherjee in his book, The Emperor of All Maladies, “but by extending human life spans, civilization unveiled it.”

“You can opt for the paleo diet, you can have as clean a living environment as you want, but the capacity for these diseases is ancient, and it’s within us regardless of what you do to yourselves,” says Edward Odes of the University of the Witwatersrand.[6]

Even dinosaurs got cancer.

The hadrosaurs, or ‘duck-billed dinosaurs’, suffered from cancer. Researchers found 29 tumors in bones from 97 individuals of this herbivorous group from the Cretaceous period, about 70 million years ago.   [7]

Hadrosaurs weren’t the only prehistoric creatures to have cancer.  A prehistoric turtle , Triassic amphibian and a 1.7 million year old hominid suffered from cancer as well.

 

[1] “Chris Beat Cancer”, page 23
[2] “Cancer is an ancient disease: the case for better palaeoepidemiological and molecular studies” by Bishoy Faltas, https://www.nature.com/articles/nrc2914-c1#ref1
[3] “An old disease, a new disease or something in between: evidence from China”  by Youxin Wang, Tian Zhang, and Wei Wang, https://www.nature.com/articles/nrc2914-c2
[4] https://scienceblog.cancerresearchuk.org/2010/10/14/claims-that-cancer-is-only-a-%E2%80%98modern-man-made-disease%E2%80%99-are-false-and-misleading/
[5] ttps://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanonc/article/PIIS1470-2045(17)30464-3/fulltext
[6] https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/07/oldest-human-cancer-disease-origins-tumor-fossil-science/
[7] https://www.nature.com/news/2003/031021/full/news031020-2.html

Fact-Checked: Surgery and Biopsies Do Not Spread Cancer

This is the ChrisBeatCancer.com post that changed my perspective as to whether Wark was intentionally misleading.   The “information” he shares is profoundly factually wrong and cannot be reconciled with what the research actually says.

Two possibilities exist:
1. Wark never read the actual research document he references , he misleads the reader into believing he has and therefore misleads readers into beleiving his analysis of the research is accurate, or;

2.  Wark read the research document, cherry picked data that served his bias, and mislead people as to the study authors’ real conclusions.

You decide.

The video titled “Should you have surgery for cancer? Chris Wark of Chris Beat Cancer”, featured in this blog post and published on Youtube,  contains many cherry-picked data points, misleading conclusions, and outright factual inaccuracies.   A hint as to the conclusions our fact-checking has revealed – almost nothing in this video is accurate.

:30 I have learned a lot in the last, almost ten years about cancer.

Chris begins the video by setting himself up as someone quite knowledgeable about cancer.  But is he?

At 1:14 “..a 5 centimeter tumor, which is tiny, has about a billion cells, cancer cells…and 5 centimeters is the smallest tumor size they can detect.”

Five centimeters is approximately 2 inches which is HUGE for a cancer.  In a research study titled, “Limits of Tumor Detectability in Nuclear Medicine and PET”[1], the authors concluded that among nuclear medicine’s “armamentarium” of diagnostic scanning machinery that the smallest detectable tumors were as follows:  PET –  7mm, CT – 3mm, and SPECT – 1.0 cm.   The study was published online in 2012, a year before Chris published his surgery video.  Breast cancer detection of tumors via 3D mammography has advanced to such a degree that tumors as small as .5 mm can be found.  That’s 100 times smaller than the 5 cm tumor Chris refers to.

One could assume Chris got the cm number incorrect and he really meant 0.5 cm but as the image shows, a .5 cm tumor would have approximately 25 million cancer cells, not a billion.

1:30 But here’s the thing, those same cells are circulating throughout your body. They may be concentrated in the tumor but they are not completely contained in that tumor.  So removing a tumor does not cure you of cancer.”

If this statement were true, conventional medical doctors would be prescribing chemotherapy and radiation for EVERY case of cancer regardless of staging.  Just  a minute later in the video, Chris will contradict himself.

Clearly Chris either is unaware of or does not understand Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy (SLNB) and the mechanism by which metastatic cells spread.

In the 1940s, studies by Gilchrist [2] and Zeidman and Buss [3] demonstrated that metastatic cells spread through regional lymphatics in an orderly and reproducible manner, thus paving way for the evolution of SLNB. The sentinel lymph node (SLN) is the initial nodes that drains the lymph from a particular organ before draining into subsequent nodes (non-SLNs).[4]

A sentinel lymph node biopsy is a procedure that was developed to identify metastasis of  cancer to the lymph nodes. The first lymph node to encounter cancer cells is the sentinel lymph node. In a sentinel node biopsy, surgeons remove only this initial lymph node, the sentinel lymph node.  Radiographers identify the sentinel lymph node with a dye.   A negative Sentinel Node biopsy usually means all other lymph nodes are cancer free and that means no chemotherapy is recommended .  Prior to SLNB, a common treatment for breast cancer and melanoma was to remove dozens of lymph nodes as a precaution with no idea as to which ones actually had cancer cells.  In some people I know as many as 27 lymph nodes were removed which can create a side effect of lymphadema whereas SLNB removes from 1-3 nodes.   SLNB are considered extremely accurate, saves the patient additional surgery to remove unnecessary lymph nodes and limits the use of chemotherapy to patients shown to have metastases in lymph nodes.

2:42 We know 50% of cancers are cured by surgery but that figure is actually misleading because that figure includes skin cancer .  You can’t really compare a mole , a tiny mole, that’s quote unquote cancerous to a golf ball sized tumor in your large intestine which is what I had.

Just 1:15 minutes earlier Chris stated that surgery does not cure cancer.   He cavalierly dismisses skin cancer and surgery’s key role in curing it despite the fact that melanoma is rising in younger adults and is projected to be the fifth most common cancer for both men  and women  in 2019 in the US.[5]  That “tiny” melanoma mole, depending on its Breslow Depth Level and final staging after SLNB, can be quite deadly.

At 3:40 in the video Wark references a study conducted at 2003 John Wayne Cancer Institute claiming that the study concluded that  patients with invasive breast cancer who had a needle biopsy before surgery had a 50% increase in metastases when compared to patients who just had the breast tumor removed with no biopsy.

At 4:09:  “The group that had the biopsy first had a 50% increase in malignancy. That means the cancer spreading after surgery.  Just that tiny, little needle biopsy caused seedingwhere you poke a tumor and cancer cells spill out and they spread around in the surrounding tissues and that can cause the tumor to spread.”

The study CHris references is titled “Manipulation of the Primary Breast Tumor and the Incidence of Sentinel Node Metastases From Invasive Breast Cancer” by Nora M. Hansen, MD; Xing Ye, MS; Baiba J. Grube, MD; et al and is published at http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamasurgery/fullarticle/396893 The research hypothesis was: “The incidence of sentinel node (SN) metastases from invasive breast cancer might be affected by the technique used to obtain biopsy specimens from the primary tumor before sentinel lymph node dissection.”   Biopsy techniques were fine-needle aspiration (FNA), large-gauge needle core, and excisional (surgery).

One of the conclusions drawn by this study:  “The incidence of SN metastases was 47% in the FNA group, 45% in the large-gauge needle core group, and 32% in the excisional group. ”   This is likely where Wark got his “50% increase in metastases” statistic despite the fact the study authors never use that percentage nor make that conclusion.  Instead the study authors had an explanation for the difference in metastases incidents among the type of biopsies:   “This was not surprising because the size of the primary tumor was larger in the FNA group than in the excisional group.”    In fact, the data shows the size of tumor biopsied to be relevant, in Table 1 the mean tumor size was largest in the FNA group (2.08 cm) and smallest in the excisional group (1.63 cm).  In other words, the tumors in the FNA group were 28% larger than those in the excision group. The larger the tumor the greater the risk it has metastisized regardless of biopsy type.  The study authors also admitted that while patients with tumors larger than 5 cm were initially excluded from the study, upon further diagnosis “some patients did have pathologic tumors larger than 5 cm that had been underestimated by physical examination or radiologic workup. These patients were included in the study.”

The study’s lead author, Dr. Nora Hansen, came to several different conclusion than Chris Wark did .

A suspicious mass identified during physical examination or by mammography or ultrasonography should be biopsied to determine whether it is cancerous. Large-gauge needle core, FNA, and excisional breast biopsies are safe and reliable diagnostic tools.

None of these studies documented a survival disadvantage with FNA.

Diagnostic large-gauge needle core biopsy is a safe and effective alternative to FNA or excisional biopsy.

I think the findings of this study are interesting, but currently have not changed our management. We still perform fine-needle aspirations and core biopsies to diagnose cancer. Until I have a good explanation as to why this is happening, we will continue our current practice because it does afford the patient the opportunity to make treatment decisions prior to surgical therapy.

In the Discussion Section of the published study, which is where other researchers discuss potential flaws of the study, Dr. Leigh Anne Neumayer of Salt Lake City, Utah makes a common sense observation:

“This is really an interesting study, but as a clinical trialist, I want people to be certain to not jump from association to cause, and I think by your comments you now realize that for those of us who believe that breast cancer doesn’t happen overnight and that metastases don’t happen overnight that your time from biopsy or FNA to sentinel lymph node dissection of around 9 or 10 days really isn’t long enough to cause 60% of the patients to have macrometastases. It seems to me that you must be pushing whole tumor boluses, and they are able to set up housekeeping and replace the lymph node within hours or days rather than a month or 2. I really want to make sure that people don’t take your findings and make them mean a lot more than what they really do, which is just an association.”

Dr. Nora Hansen, the senior study author replied Dr. Neumeyer,

“We have no definitive proof that the type of biopsy actually leads to the metastasis.”

And there’s more good news!   A 2013 Mayo Clinic study [6] of more than 2,000 patients has dispelled the myth that cancer biopsies cause cancer to spread. The researchers show that patients who received a biopsy had a better outcome and longer survival than patients who did not have a biopsy.

“This study shows that physicians and patients should feel reassured that a biopsy is very safe,” he says. “We do millions of biopsies of cancer a year in the U.S., but one or two case studies have led to this common myth that biopsies spread cancer.”

Biopsies offer “very valuable information that allow us to tailor treatment. In some cases, we can offer chemotherapy and radiation before surgery for a better outcome, and in other cases, we can avoid surgery and other therapy altogether,” Dr. Wallace says.

Yet despite all the good news, Chris clings to his belief that surgery does not play a crucial role in the treatment, even curing of cancer.

5:10 If you want to have surgery, if it makes you feel better psychologically and emotionally to get a big lump out of your body then go ahead and do it but do not make any mistake or don’t kid yourself and think that it’s not going to come back….surgery can be helpful but you cannot rely on it.  Knowing what I know now would I have surgery again? Probably not.”

He makes a foolish declaration that, should he get cancer again, he would likely honor his beliefs and decline even life-saving surgery. It is one thing to choose for yourself how you wish to management your care but to extrapolate to others borders on the unethical.  Alarmingly, at 7:10 Wark advises postponing or even declining surgery citing that “cancer has been growing a long time…waiting a month to 3 months won’t make a difference”.  Chris Wark is in no way credible in medical science to be advising anyone to delay surgery. Ten years post cancer diagnosis “researching” via the University of Google does not accredit a person as being an authority qualified to be suggesting a delayed course of action.

The last few minutes of the video go into theological issues that will be discussed at a later date.

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3590963/
[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1390783/
[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/13160971
[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5620435/
[5]  https://www.aad.org/media/stats/conditions/skin-cancer
[6] https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/01/150109093717.htm

Fact Checked : Penelope Villabert Died of Her Pancreatic Cancer And POOF! Her Story Disappeared

The Claim from the blog:

Penny Heals Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer Naturally!

Update: It is my understanding that Penny passed away sometime after March 2014, as that is the last time she posted on social media. I have not been able to gather any details as to the cause of her death. If she did in fact die of cancer, it is worth noting that the median survival rate of stage IV pancreatic cancer is 2-6 months with conventional treatment. Penny thrived for nearly 3 years after her stage IV pancreatic cancer diagnosis. That is incredible.[1]

Fact-Checking:

The original post about Penelope Villabert’s claim to have healed herself of pancreatic cancer debuted in November 2012.    This is the original post.    According the Internet Wayback Machine, this post ceased to exist on Wark’s site on September 4, 2016 with a “404/Page Not Found” error message. [2]  Chris appears to have resurrected the blog post recently, with the update, likely in response to the recent publication of this Youtube video exposing the deaths of “healed” survivors that mysteriously disappeared from his blog and Youtube channel.

A 3-second google search finds that Penny died at CEBU DOCTORS HOSPITAL, Philippines on 13 August 2015.


Definition of heal

transitive verb
1a : to make free from injury or disease : to make sound or whole heal a wound
b : to make well again : to restore to health heal the sick

For Chris to have declared, with certainty, that Penelope Villabert “HEALS” stage 4 cancer naturally is exceptionally misleading. There is nothing incredible about death or misleading people into having false hope that they can “HEAL” stage 4 cancer if they buy Wark’s video series, and buy the supplements that are affiliate linked in these testimonials.  Chris has a word for this situation, it’s called “failure”:

“A successful treatment means being cured of cancer with no recurrence.
Complete long-term restoration of health is success.
Sickness and death are failure.” – Chris Wark [3]

In order to pull some sort of victory from the ashes of failure, Wark makes Penny Villabert’s life extension an issue of conventional medicine versus alt-med by adding 3 words to a sentence that does not appear in the resource materials.  Chris added “with conventional treatment” despite the fact that the resource page he cited does not mention the words “conventional treatment” or any mention of treatments options pertaining to survival other than surgery.

Median survival is the length of time from either diagnosis or treatment, to the point at which half of the patients are still alive.  So while the median survival rate is 2-6 months, 50% of them are still alive.   According to the site Chris linked to in his update, generally for adults with pancreatic cancer in England and Wales :

Almost 5 out of every 100 (almost 5%) survive their cancer for 5 years or more
Only 1 out of every 100 (1%) will survive their cancer for 10 years or more after diagnosis
Some people live much longer than 5 years.

Penny’s survival is not unusual or “incredible” and there is no evidence that her holistic treatments can be credited.

And lastly,  Chris disrespects the deceased by continuing to have two undisclosed Amazon affiliate links [4] embedded in Penny’s story. Even in death Chris financially exploits her.

[1] https://www.chrisbeatcancer.com/penny-heals-stage-4-pancreatic-cancer-naturally/
[2] https://web.archive.org/web/20160904053410/http://chrisbeatcancer.com/penny-heals-stage-4-pancreatic-cancer-naturally
[3] Chris Wark, “Chris Beat Cancer” book, page 50
[4] https://www.amazon.com/s/?_encoding=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&field-keywords=gerson&linkCode=ur2&tag=chrisbeatcanc-20&url=search-alias%3Daps and https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005FIYBV6/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B005FIYBV6&linkCode=as2&tag=chrisbeatcanc-20

Fact-Checked: Go Prone For Breast Cancer Radiation Therapy

The Claim:

“…the long-term effects of radiation therapy,which increases a woman’s risk for lung cancer and heart disease.” [1]

Fact-Checked:

Chris did not footnote this particular statement therefore failing to substantiate his claim with science. It’s basic fear-mongering based on old tropes.

But there’s great news!

Body position while going through breast cancer radiation treatment matters says The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute. Nearly all women used to undergo breast radiation therapy lying on their back in what is called a supine position. There was a slight chance that radiation can damage healthy lung and heart tissue in that supine position but it took science-based medical research to find an even better way. Recent studies show that a new approach of being in a prone position during radiation therapy reduces the amount of lung and heart tissue affected by radiation therapy by 90 percent! [2] It’s well worth reading the article about this in the link below.

As for that fear-mongering about radiation therapy..

In a study published online in CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, most patients agreed that their initial negative impressions about radiation were unfounded. The study revealed that 93 percent of breast conservation patients and 81 percent of mastectomy patients agreed with the statement, “If future patients knew the real truth about radiation therapy, they would be less scared about treatment.” [3]

[1] Chris Wark, ‘Chris Beat Cancer” book, page 45
[2] https://radiationtherapynews.com/2014/10/16/breast-cancer-radiation-therapy-prone-position-reduces-toxic-side-effects/
[3] https://medicalxpress.com/news/2018-02-breast-cancer-patients-therapy.html

Fact-Checked: Obese Women Have The Same Improved Survival Rate After Breast Cancer As Non-Obese Women

The claim below, by Chris Wark in his book, is by far my favorite of the examples of Wark omitting information that could negatively impact his position and basically misleading the reader as to what the research actually reports.

The claim:

Breast cancer patients who exercise regularly (the equivalent of walking 30 minutes per day) and ate five or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day had half the recurrence rate after nine years compared to patients who didn’t exercise or eat lots of fruits and veggies.9

Fact Checked:

The book’s footnote links to this study:

John P.Pierce, “Greater Survival After Breast Cancer in Physically Active Women with High Vegetable-Fruit Intake Regardless of Obesity”, Journal of Clinical Oncology 25.17 (June 2007): 2345-51. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2274898/

Did you catch that? The study was actually investigating the variables of physical activity, diet, and obesity with survival after breast cancer.  Would a diet change that includes 5 servings of fruits and vegetables in addition to moderate paced walking 30 minutes a day improve survival odds after breast cancer even for obese women? Conclusion?

Among those who adhered to this healthy lifestyle, there was no apparent effect of obesity on survival. The effect was stronger in women who had hormone receptor–positive cancers.

In summary, breast cancer survivors who consume a healthy diet and are physically active may increase their years of survival after diagnosis. Specifically, we have shown that those who reported eating a minimum of 5 VF servings daily and performing weekly physical activity equivalent to 30 minutes of walking at a moderate pace for 6 days a week had a higher 10-year survival rate than those who did not adhere to these lifestyle practices. The improved survival rate was observed in women who were obese as well as those who were not obese. Adhering to these two health behaviors reduced the probability of death in the follow-up period by 50%…

This is great news for obese cancer patients and gives them hope they can change their lifestyle practices and have the same expectation of an improved survival rate as non-obese women.

But Chris omits this information, likely because it conflicts with his published statements regarding obesity and undermines the statements made in other chapters of his book.

Fact-Checked: Cancer Death Rates Are Declining Every Year

The Claims:

In a December 13, 2013 Facebook comment [1], Chris Wark declared,

Cancer is the number one killer in the world.
And the cancer death rate has risen 8% from 2008-2012.
Why? Because “expert medical treatment” isn’t working.

Or this one from an online interview:

But the solid tumor, breast, brain, colon, lung, liver, ovarian, cervical, pancreatic, or major cancer killers, they’ve made very little progress if any, in some cases, zero progress in improving the death rate in the last 60 years. So that’s, you know, that’s a pretty powerful indictment against the cancer industries progress despite the hundreds of billions spent on research.[2]

Fact-checked:

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), trachea, bronchus and lung cancer is the 6th leading cause of death worldwide, preceded by heart disease, stroke, pulmonary disease, respiratory infection, and Alzheimers in that order.[3] Cancer remains the number 2 killer in the US, causing 22% of all deaths, just behind heart disease at 23%.[4]

Over the past decade of data, the cancer incidence rate (2006‐2015) was stable in women and declined by approximately 2% per year in men, whereas the cancer death rate (2007‐2016) declined annually by 1.4% and 1.8%, respectively. The overall cancer death rate dropped continuously from 1991 to 2016 by a total of 27%, translating into approximately 2,629,200 fewer cancer deaths than would have been expected if death rates had remained at their peak.

The overall cancer death rate rose during most of the 20th century, largely driven by rapid increases in lung cancer deaths among men as a consequence of the tobacco epidemic, but has declined by about 1.5% per year since the early 1990s. From its peak of 215.1 (per 100,000 population) in 1991, the cancer death rate dropped 26% to 158.6 in 2015. This decline, which is larger in men (32% since 1990) than in women (23% since 1991), translates to approximately 2,378,600 fewer cancer deaths (1,639,100 in men and 739,500 in women) than what would have occurred if peak rates had persisted (Fig. 6). [5]

[1] https://www.facebook.com/chrisbeatcancer/posts/you-sir-are-a-criminal-you-are-condemning-gullible-people-to-death-by-persuading/640231999353581/
[2] https://www.theenergyblueprint.com/chris-beat-cancer/
[3] https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/the-top-10-causes-of-death
[4] https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.3322/caac.21551
[5} https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.3322/caac.21551

Further resource reading: https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/cancer-death-rate-continues-to-decline/