by Ralph W. Moss (Author)
A revealing critique of chemotherapy, this book looks objectively at chemo's
successes and failures.
From the Author
Hi! I'm Ralph Moss, author of Questioning Chemotherapy. I want to tell you how
and why I came to write this book.
I started as a believer in chemotherapy. As a science writer at Memorial
Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, I wrote articles praising the latest
advances in chemotherapy. I was impressed by the then-emerging cures for
Hodgkin's disease, acute lymphocytic leukemia and some other relatively rare
cancers. At the same time, I began to learn how skeptical many good scientists
were about chemotherapy's future.
The major objection to "chemo" was that these drugs did not discriminate between
normal and cancerous cells, but attacked all rapidly dividing cells . One
scientist described this method as "trying to melt a patient's left ear , while
leaving the right one alone." It seemed particularly inappropriate in the
treatment of solid tumors of adults, which are often slow-growing.
Because chemotherapy drugs were general cellular poisons, they could be terribly
toxic. They were also very expensive for patients and for society as a whole.
When I learned about the links between the pharmaceutical industry and the
cancer establishment (later detailed in my book, The Cance r Industry) I
understood the commercial reason that such an inadequate modality was so heavily
In 1989, a German biostatistician named Ulrich Abel, Ph.D. published a
groundbreaking monograph called "Chemotherapy of Advanced Epithelial Cancer. It
made few waves in the U.S. and soon went out of print. In this excellent work,
however, Dr. Abel rigorously demonstrated that chemotherapy had never been
scientifically proven to extend life through randomized clinical trials (RCTs)
in the vast majority of "epithelial cancers." These are the common types of
carcinoma that affect most cancer patients in the Western world.
Some years later, in response to many requests, I decided to write a critical
book about chemotherapy (a sort of companion piece to Cancer Therapy). I took
Abel's out-of-print work as my starting point, but also consulted the work of
many other students of chemotherapy. In this book, I update statistics and speak
about all cancers and not just carcinomas. I go into depth on the politics and
economics of the chemotherapy industry, on the biases, fallacies and frauds that
occur, and on ways of warding off the sometimes catastrophic side effects that
accompany this treatment.
The essential point of the book is that one must question the measure of success
in chemotherapy. Oncologists have tended to equate an increasing percentage of
"responses" with progress. However, responses are generally measurements of
tumor shrinkage, for as little as one month's duration. One cannot automatically
assume that a response--even a complete response--will lead to increased
survival. One must look for increased survival. Yet the number of cancers for
which life prolongation through chemotherapy has been proven through randomized
clinical trials is very small. (I do bend over backwards to point these out,
when they occur.)
So when a doctor says her regimen yields a 40 percent response rate, "what
exactly is she promising? A short-term shrinkage of tumors--or actual
life-prolongation? What effect is this treatment likely to have on the patient's
quality of life? And what is the cost?" It is only by obtaining information such
as this that patients are able to make rational treatment choices. Questioning
Chemotherapy is intended to help patients by providing them with a critical
perspective on this now dominant modality.
Paperback: 214 pages
Publisher: Equinox Press (January 25, 1995)