Two important studies have recently been published concerning the use of homeopathy in cancer – one demonstrating greater effectiveness in certain types of cancers than any treatment yet assessed by modern research methods. Both involved relatively large numbers of participants and together represent a significant step forward, as research data in this area has been limited.
The first study  looked at primary homeopathic treatment of cancer – meaning, treatment with the intent to cure without the use of conventional oncologic treatment. The second study  looked at the effect of homeopathy on the quality of life in cancer patients receiving concomitant conventional care. Both studies had very impressive results.
In fact, the results of the first study are far and away the most robust of any therapy (conventional or holistic) yet assessed in treatment of pancreatic, gallbladder, liver, and stomach cancers. If replicated in further studies the protocol would represent a true breakthrough in treatment of these intractable malignancies – greatly increasing the survival and quality of life of these patients.
This was a non-randomized, observational trial conducted at the Critical Cancer Management Research Centre and Clinic located in Kolkata, India.
The findings were first presented at the 2009 American Society of Clinical Oncologists (ASCO) Annual Conference. ASCO is the world’s leading professional cancer organization. An abstract of the study was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
Lead investigator Aradeep Chatterjee is an ASCO member and on staff at the Critical Cancer Management Research Centre and Clinic. Co-investigator Jaydip Biswas is also an ASCO member and is Director of the National Cancer Institute, Kolkata, India. Other investigators included researchers at the National Cancer Institute, Kolkata and the National Institute of Technology, Durgapur.
158 subjects participated, with the following distribution of cancer types – 42 stomach (gastric adenocarcinoma), 40 gallbladder (adenocarcinoma), 44 pancreas (adenocarcinoma) and 32 liver (hepatocellular carcinoma).
Inclusion criteria for participants were: 1) histopathalogic/cytopathologic confirmation of malignancy, 2) inoperable tumors, and 3) no prior chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
24.9% of subjects were diagnosed at stage III and 70.9% at stage IV – meaning, nearly all had locally advanced or metastatic disease.
The protocol involved the use of the homeopathic remedy Psorinum in a 6X potency. All subjects received this remedy daily along with supportive homeopathic and conventional care.
Examples of conventional supportive care include control of infection, pain, electrolyte balance, bleeding, etc. Homeopathic supportive care consisted of the use of homeopathic remedies prescribed on a pathological (as opposed to the more common patient-individualized) basis. Most remedies were in the 200C potency, with a few as mother tinctures. Examples include Baryta carbonicum 200C, Lycopodium 200C and Thuja occidentalis mother tincture.
The results were astonishing, with survival rates many times greater than that achieved with conventional treatment or any other type of rigorously assessed cancer care.
For instance, the 5 year survival rate of patients receiving conventional treatment for stage III and IV pancreatic adenocarcinoma, the most deadly of all common malignancies, is approximately 1-2%  . In this study 38.6% survived 5 years.
Hepatocellular carcinoma (liver cancer) has a 1 year survival rate of 20% and a 3 year survival rate of 5% with conventional treatment . Of the subjects receiving the Psorinum protocol 81% survived 1 year, and 59% survived 3 years. An astounding 43.75% survived 5 years.
38.1% of patients in the study having gastric adenocarcinoma survived 5 years, while conventional care achieves less than 20% 5 year survival .
Considering the study group as a whole, 33% of those with stage III disease had a complete tumor response – meaning, complete disappearance of all cancerous lesions (tumors) without disease progression or appearance of any new lesions. 41% had radiologic partial response – meaning, at least 30% shrinkage of tumors.
Among those with stage IV disease, 10.7% had complete, and 34% partial tumor response.
In addition to increased survival rates, quality of life was also significantly improved compared to standard care. 60% of those with stage III disease and 45% of those with stage IV reported that “the therapy was effective in reducing their cancer-related pain, cough, dyspnea, nausea and vomiting, fatigue, constipation and improving appetite and weakness.”
Further, “no adverse side effects were observed from the drug Psorinum. However, very few patients reported to have mild oral irritation and skin itching which were successfully controlled by supportive care.”
At the 2010 ASCO Annual Conference, Chatterjee and Biswas presented results of a similar trial – use of the same Psorinum protocol with 95 patients having inoperable lung cancer (non-small cell cancer of the lung – the most common type)  Outcomes in this trial were similar with a 5 year survival rate of 44%. This is compared to 16% with conventional treatment . Again, the abstract was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. The full study is not yet published.
One more trial,  using the same Psorinum protocol in treatment of advanced esophageal carcinoma was published in the Proceedings of the 2011 ASCO Annual Conference and later presented at the 2012 ASCO Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium. [here] Of 65 participants, 17% had full and 31% had partial tumor responses. 68% survived 1 year and 26% survived 5 years. The average 5 year survival rate for non-resectable esophageal carcinoma treated conventionally is around 1%.  
Taken together, data from these three trials demonstrate a very high level of effectiveness of Psorinum therapy along with supportive conventional and homeopathic care in some of the most difficult-to-treat common malignancies.
Though the trials were not randomized or controlled, the data are noteworthy for a number of reasons: 1) the extraordinary degree of effectiveness of the treatment in these difficult to treat conditions – no published study has demonstrated anything even close to these results, 2) survival rate as an outcome measure is completely objective and therefore not subject to assessment bias, 3) there already exists a very large body of data demonstrating the degree of effectiveness of conventional treatment of these cancers – data which is consistent across all cultures and types of patients – which gives a valid basis for comparison and 4) the trials comprise a fairly large study group, with 318 total subjects.
The primary limitation of the studies is the lack of control for the effects of the supportive homeopathic care. We already know what to expect from supportive conventional care, so it is not much of a variable. However, we are left wondering how much of the effectiveness was due to the Psorinum therapy itself versus the supportive homeopathic remedies which were extensively used.
In a personal correspondence, Dr. Chatterjee indicated there would be a phase III (larger, controlled) clinical trial as a follow up to the studies – comparing the full Psorinum protocol versus 1) conventional cancer treatment, and 2) Psorinum protocol minus the homeopathic supportive care (in other words, Psorinum 6X along with only the conventional supportive care) in treatment of pancreatic adenocarcinoma. In August 2011, the Times of India reported that Chatterjee had signed a “mutual confidentiality agreement” with MD Anderson Cancer Center (at the University of Texas, Houston) to collaborate on further clinical trials.
The second study was lead by doctors at University Hospital Zurich (Switzerland), University Hospital Freiburg (Germany) and the Tumor Biology Center at Albert Ludwig’s University Freiburg (Germany). It was published in the journal BMC Cancer.
This trial aimed to assess the effects of homeopathy as an adjunct to conventional oncologic care versus conventional care alone. There were 259 subjects in the homeopathic/conventional group and 380 in the conventional-only cohort. It should be noted that 10% of those in the homeopathic group refused recommended conventional care.
The most frequent cancer type was breast cancer. Colorectal and prostate cancers as well as melanoma were also prevalent.
The primary outcome measure was change in quality of life. Secondary outcome measures were change in fatigue, psychological wellbeing and patient satisfaction. All of these parameters were measured using widely accepted assessment tools.
The type of homeopathy used was the traditional “constitutional” approach, in which a single remedy is chosen based on individualized characteristics (as opposed to common pathological or medical indications).
Patients were assessed at 3 and 12 months.
The following data emerged in the homeopathic group:
- Quality of life improved significantly at 3 months and further at 12 months – twice as much as the conventional group – in the upper range of the clinical significance scale
- Mental and physical fatigue and physical activity improved significantly at 3 and 12 months
- Anxiety and depression did not change
The following data emerged in the conventional group:
- Quality of life was slightly improved at 12 months – at the bottom edge of the clinical significance scale
- Fatigue did not change
- Anxiety and depression did not change
This trial was meant to reflect real-world medical practice and decision-making (by patients and doctors). The participants were not randomized and were free to choose their course of treatment. Doctors were free to recommend individualized treatment protocols.
Although the 2 groups were well-matched at entry to the study in terms of symptoms, there were important disparities, namely, 1) demographics – the homeopathic group was more likely to have a higher level of post-graduate education and to be white collar workers or self-employed, 2) stage of disease progression – the homeopathic group was more likely to have a more severe diagnosis or progressed tumor stage, and had a longer elapsed time since first diagnosis, and 3) types of therapies used – the homeopathic group used less chemotherapy and radiation, due to already having utilized more prior to study entry.
These differences precluded statistically valid comparison of the two groups as matched pair controls. Nevertheless, the data clearly suggests that homeopathic treatment is beneficial to cancer patients as a whole.
If anything, the differences should have favored a greater improvement in the conventional group – the participants were at earlier stage of illness and therefore more amenable to treatment. Some would argue that greater results are to be expected from a sicker population (the homeopathic group) who have more potential for improvement. While this may be true in non-degenerative or self-limiting conditions, it is certainly not the case in cancer, where advanced progression of disease is nearly always associated with worse symptom scores and poorer response to treatment.
Some would argue the conventional group fared worse due to greater exposure to chemotherapy and radiation – but these interventions would have been finished primarily in the first few months, and outcomes at 12 months should not have been negatively influenced by the side effects of these therapies. Indeed, one of the primary goals of conventional treatment is decreased symptom severity and increased quality of life in the long term.
Even considered as a separate pool of data, the results achieved in the homeopathic group were “by all standards, a clinically relevant improvement”.
As the authors concluded:
“We have shown that under homeopathic care, sizeable benefits were achieved for patients’ quality of life, as measured by FACT-G and also for spiritual well-being as measured by the FACIT-Sp. The improvement was clinically relevant and statistically significant. It could also be seen in symptoms of physical and mental fatigue. Thus our data suggest that classical homeopathic care could complement conventional cancer care to the benefit of patients.”
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