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Cancer Quackery and Fake News: Targeting the Most Vulnerable

Abstract

Despite major improvements in cancer outcomes over the last 50 years, there unfortunately still remain many patients who are incurable. Also, despite advances in less toxic targeted therapies and “less is more” approaches to surgery for major cancers, many cancer patients still fear the toxic side effects of current cancer therapies, such as chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation. These patients and their families, particularly those who are not “curable” and understandably view modern oncology as having failed them, are a particularly vulnerable population, susceptible to false hope. It is this false hope, along with a general lack of understanding of the biology of cancer and how scientists demonstrate whether a given therapy is effective and safe for treating a given cancer, that leads patients and families to be taken in by modern-day snake oil salesmen. Unfortunately, it is not just the incurable who are vulnerable to fake news about cancer and the blandishments of cancer quacks. Patients for whom modern oncology would be expected to produce excellent outcomes can be led astray, resulting in death from curable cancers.

Keywords

  • Cancer
  • Alternative medicine
  • Quackery
  • Fake news

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Correspondence to David H. Gorski .

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Gorski, D.H. (2019). Cancer Quackery and Fake News: Targeting the Most Vulnerable. In: Bernicker, E. (eds) Cancer and Society. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-05855-5_7

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-05855-5_7

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