Thursday, May 17, 2007

More on Gerson Method

A local doctor, Martin A. Ginsburg, has written in to the Ithaca Journal about the Ithaca man who is going to Mexico for cancer treatment:

Having read the May 11 article (Seeking out an alternative: Local man opts for unusual cancer treatment”) about a man seeking alternative methods of treatment for a potentially lethal rectal cancer, I offer the following comments:

I am an internist with subspecialty training in gastroenterology. When I came to Ithaca from Downstate a year ago I was amazed at the massive public interest in alternative medicine.

I agree that every patient should be able to choose his method of treatment — having been fully educated as to the pros and cons of alternative vs. conventional methods. What is lacking here is the dim statistical possibility of cure when going the alternative route as first treatment.

I feel that Bert Scholl should see a competent oncologist locally or at one of the large cancer centers in Buffalo, Rochester or New York City. The bold statistics for both methods should be given to him so he won't go off blindly to Mexico for unproven care that, except for anecdotal vignettes, has been proven most dismal.

It's a relief to read a sensible, informed opinion about this treatment, rather than the credulous account provided by the Ithaca Journal reporter.


  1. I guess a sensible, informed opinion is one with which you agree. People who receive conventional cancer treatments die also. The kind of surgery proposed for Bert Scholl is horrendous! It could kill him. A colleague of mind recently lost his father who went in for a simple hernia operation and died on the operating table.

    From what I have determined, the Gerson method has not been "proven most dismal". It has not been studied until now because closed-minded people have already decided they don't like it. It is under study in Austria, as is pointed out in the OTA article that you cited in an earlier post as "debunking" it.

    You should ask yourself why your aunt decided to forego chemotherapy the second time around. Perhaps she knew something that you don't.

    Bert does want to live. If he is forced to take the drastic conventional alternative, he will.

    You don't have to keep guessing what Bert thinks. Go to and then check his blog. He is very forthcoming about everything that you discuss here.

  2. I have read his blog, and it makes me very sad to read it. I understand that the surgery is scary - frankly it sounds horrible to me. But I still don't see the purpose to doing a difficult therapy that has not been proven to work at all.

    Of course I know that people who receive conventional cancer treatments die - I have several friends in Ithaca who died of breast cancer, a good friend in New York City who died of lung cancer, plus relatives who died of it. Doctors don't claim that they can positively conclusively cure every case of cancer - that would be a nonsensical claim.

  3. I'm glad we agree. Not every patient can be cured. Gerson claims no such thing either. They claim that many patients survive a few to many more years. Sound familiar?

    Instead of the "unproven" therapy, can you please provide a "proven" one? Bert and I are both anxious for one, so please tell us what it is.

    Thank you.

  4. But have the Gerson treatments been proven to work at all by the standard scientific measure of a double-blind randomized trial? Or even an attempt at such a trial? I'm not aware that such a trial has been done, and without it, all we have is anecdotal evidence. Take a look at the blog by Orac. He's a cancer surgeon, and I've found his discussions of the scientific method and how to prove that a treatment works extremely helpful. (I'm not a scientist, as I'm sure is clear from my blog!)

  5. I'm in the midst of rectal cancer treatment right now. My cancer sounds like it was similar to Bert's--T3--although one doctor described it worse and one less. I elected to go with radiation and chemotherapy followed by surgery. All the doctors prepared me that I'd probably have to have a permanent colostomy.

    My cancer treatment included 28 days of radiation (once each day Monday through Friday--each treatment takes only a few minutes) and two weeks of chemo (the first and last full week of radiation).

    The radiation targets the tumor area within millimeters and destroys the DNA in the cancer cells. The goal is to destroy or shrink the tumor. A chemo cocktail is used along with the radiation because people have found that it shrinks more of the tumor for more people. In my case after the radiation/chemo the tumor was completely gone. After a small surgery to remove the area where the tumor once was no sign of the cancer remains. It doesn't mean that there isn't at least one bad cell lurking around in my body so I'll have to be watched closely for cancer to grow back over the next several years. However, for at least now, this means I've avoided a colostomy. If it comes to that, then so be it, but I wanted to share this because I think it's important for people to realize the value radiation/chemo can bring.

    Like many, the type of surgery and chemo sounded terrible, but a good thing to focus on is the goal of shrinking the size of the tumor. It can make a huge difference and change what surgery is needed.

    I realize that Bert is taking this tact too with his alternative treatment and I wish him well. I would point out though that after reading his blog it sounds like it's no piece of cake either.

    Before radiation I too was in significant pain. I could only walk slowly, barely sit, didn't sleep well, and eating was not something I looked forward to. However, after a little over one week of radiation/chemo the pain created from my tumor was gone. There was no way of really knowing at the time, but I took it as a sign that the treatment was working. I've since learned that the pain goes away for many like this too. Now this doesn't mean that there weren't more challenges that came down the road, but it was a relief to be able sleep better.

  6. Loren, thank you for your comments. I hope that your remain healthy for many years into the future.