As the accompanying blurb (the text-box below) containing the image of the ad from Care Plus (a non-invasive medical center) says that cancer is the third leading cause of death worldwide. Care Plus has listed the causes for it! I am particularly interested in cures for cancer because two people who have influenced me the most in my life have had cancer. My mother died from it about 15 years back, while Premanand whom I consider as my ideological guru is suffering from it. Since the disease is dreaded and its occurrence is wide-spread, there are many lines of treatment for it which are recognized and approved. But, a number of unscrupulous elements have tried to exploit this and have lined their pockets with the hard-earned money of the patients and their relatives. The treatments may vary from anything to specially consecrated water to secret remedies unknown to modern science but are the result of “research” and also supernatural powers!
In 1992 when my mother was diagnosed with cancer, I did not want her to hear me discussing these things with my brothers. So, I went to an STD booth to call my brothers. The owner of the booth who also happened to be a friend of mine was overhearing the conversation. As soon as I finished he asked me whether my mother has cancer. When I said yes, he told me to take her immediately to Uppinangady- Nattibail, where a Muslim miracle man was dispensing cancer medicine on Fridays only. He had only one condition- the patient should not take or have taken any other medicines or undergone any tests. When I asked him how he could diagnose cancer without any tests, he said that it could be done by the supernatural powers. I was quite angry with this man and told him if I want my mother to die I will give her poison with my own hands but definitely would not allow a quack to end her life! I also made a note to expose this quack which we did successfully a few months later, and the fellow disappeared. Anyway she was operated upon and survived for four years afterwards. Again, when she developed secondaries there were suggestions to administer all sorts of medicine to her, including Ayurveda and homeopathy etc. I had no right to interfere in that as other members of our family wanted to try them out. But, after a few days my mother told everyone that she would like to die in peace and not be tortured with all sorts of weird-tasting concoctions. She passed away quite peacefully in October of 1995. It is thought that there are unknown concoctions devised by the rishi munis of yore who have come to know about all diseases and their cures too through their divine powers and meditation and have prescribed treatments for themselves too. That is what we would like to claim, anyway. We have a so-called yogi with a tic on the side of his face which he cannot cure, but has a line of treatment for every disease past, present or future! I had a friend who was a graduate in integrated system of medicine and was suffering from cancer. It was claimed that he was being treated successfully by a concoction made by an attendant of the chemistry laboratory at a local college. The foul smelling powder which was said to be effective was also given to me for what they called as ‘testing’. I thought I would verify this from the patient before doing anything further. It turned out that my friend was not taking it at all and it was an attempt by this man to market his concoction claiming that he had cured so and so. Anyway, my friend passed away soon after.
About three decades back one of my aunts was suffering from carcinoma of the cervix and had secondary growths all over. We used to send her a ‘powerful’ anti-cancer concoction from a person who had a shop at Bunder, Mangalore. Every time a new bottle was purchased we had to tell the shop keeper that she was getting better, though that was not so! It was because if he was told that she was becoming worse, which was the actual case, he would stop selling his medicine! Day by day she got ‘better and better’ until she finally passed away in great pain. Until her last she had been consuming the foul tasting concoction which was supposed to cure her. It was costing about hundred rupees those days which was a princely sum and she was using one bottle per week. This is the sort of exploitation that the families of patients suffering from cancer have to undergo. There is another girl whom I know who had a tumor in her chest cavity. Since the tumor was situated close to the heart and aorta, it was very difficult to get a needle biopsy sample for testing malignancy. So, she was advised to undergo surgery for her chest to be opened for a biopsy. In the meanwhile, she also chose to go to her family astrologer for advice. He peered at her horoscope and informed her that she had no cancer at all. It was just an illusion which would go away with an appropriate ritual of course which he would perform for payment of his nominal fee! Since I put my foot down firmly they proceeded with the biopsy and she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease and is fully cured today. We have innumerable such cases where god-men and god-women have promised cures and patients have succumbed to cancer. Another such instance took place about two decades back. The wife of an eminent Kannada professor of Mysore University developed an abdominal swelling. Instead of going to their doctor they went to Puttaparthi to meet the (in) famous god-man who produces ash from thin air with a wave of his palm- ash that is supposed to cure all diseases. He told this lady that it was because of her recently-deceased son being reborn in her own womb. Since she had lost her 19 year old son a year back in a motor cycle accident, she ardently believed the divine words of the self styled Bhagawan. Though many months elapsed nothing was coming forth. The growth enlarged until it put pressure on her abdominal cavity and made it difficult to breathe. Finally, the family decided to consult proper doctors who diagnosed it as ovarian cancer and berated them for having come at such a late stage when nothing could be done. When I narrated this incident at a lecture demonstration at Mysore University, one senior staff member was furious. He told me that he had seen the mortal remains of this lady soon after she passed away and that there was such a peaceful look on her face! I remarked that the peaceful look might have been because she was finally relieved of the agonies of suffering from the effects of a huge tumor in the abdomen. There was a furore as the then Vice Chancellor of the University was a great devotee of the Puttaparthi miracle man and her subordinates probably wanted to impress her with their defense of this so called god-man. At that time I thought that there may be repercussions on the people who had invited me there, and so I told the audience that what I had said were my views alone and I took full responsibility for them. I also mentioned that they were not those of the group which had invited me and hence they should not be blamed for it. At that juncture, the head of that group reacted saying that I was wrong and that their views too were the same! He also challenged the audience that if any one of them wanted to do anything about it they were welcome to do so and he was ready to face the consequences!
Latest of these con-artists are the practitioners of pseudo-sciences. The image to the right is an image of an ad for one such pseudoscience. Using technical terms like apoptosis ( which just means cell death),tissue re-engineering technology (what it means needs to be explained by the advertiser himself) a person with just an MBBS qualification claims to have done earth shaking research and discovered a new method for the treatment of cancer. He also offers RFQMR technology which claims to cure cancer more effectively than any other line of treatment. It is not that people with more qualification and specialization in this field agree with him. But, it can be always claimed that they are jealous of him. He again claims to be a certified ‘radio medicine’ specialist (we thought that a radio medicine specialist would be the one to offer treatment to patients on radio stations but we seem to be erring in that!) though no medical council recognizes that as a post-graduate medical qualification and no medical college or university offers courses in that name! In fact no recognized hospital has a department of “radio medicine”. But, here we have a specialist in that field!
Again, he derides the usual therapies for cancer as having limitations of “partial solutions, procedure related mortality, adverse side effects and little or no symptomatic relief.” In fact Care Plus offers “a solution that is safe, effective, painless and with no side effects”. As a wag remarked, how can one have side-effects when the main-effect itself is non-existent! What if no standard text-book says anything about RFQMR? What if no physician or oncologist refers patients, to this self-styled certified radio medicine specialist? The website carries supposedly unsolicited testimonials from cured patients! There are enough gullible people in this world who are desperate to have some cure for their beloved ones suffering from dreaded diseases like cancer. It is such people who are exploited by these charlatans. Well, carefully worded statements like ‘We have helped a lot of cancer patients including oral, breast, cervical, lungs, liver etc. tackle their problems with a truly revolutionary technology that is result oriented’ may be used to escape from any legal liabilities.
Well, we are contemplating moving the state medical council and the district consumer disputes redressal forum about this matter to prevent the exploitation of gullible people.
What some eminent doctors and specialists have to say about this RFQMR therapy:
Dr.K.R.Shetty, a very senior physician, former principal of Kasturba Medical College, a person well known for his forth right views and professional integrity remarked:
“While I am yet to hear of this therapy and its efficacy, one thing I have to certainly say is that the advertisement in the newspaper is certainly unethical and amounts to professional misconduct. The state Medical Council should take action on that.”
Dr. Jose, a Pediatrician of three decades of experience and a prominent member of the Bangalore Vicharvadi Sangha, contacted some very eminent people in the field of oncology for their comments.
Dr.Bapsy, retired director of Kidwai Institute of Oncology and a very senior cancer specialist, wished to go on record that she had not come across any such therapy. Dr.Vijayakumar, an eminent cancer surgeon remarked that he had not heard of such a therapy at all.
Dr.B.S.Kakkillaya, after going through the quoted literature in the web site of the advertiser, had this to say:
“Care Plus India, the institution that claims to offer the so called RFQMR therapy, does not seem to have any evidence to support its claims. Its website provides a link for supporting Research at http://careplusindia.com/cancertab.html. This page lists 5 articles published between 2002 and 2006. All the studies cited are very small, short and conducted on mice or tissue culture. These studies cannot be used to support the claims being made about the RFQMR technology. No studies are available to support the use of the so called RFQMR technology in humans, either for the treatment of cancer or anything else. Another related website, http://www.cytotron.com/research.php also quotes some small, unconvincing animal or tissue culture studies and another paper cited on this website (Full text available here ) provide conflicting evidence for the use of this ‘technology’ in treating cancer. Therefore it is very clear from these facts, provided by the company itself, that the RFQMR technology has no scientific basis whatsoever for treating cancer or any human ailment. This practice of quoting unrelated or half baked or poorly conducted studies to support fooling gimmickry is quite rampant and we find this in the cases of yoga, homeopathy and such other ‘alternative’ systems of therapy.”
What does Care Plus India have to say?
Going to the website of this center we found an email id, firstname.lastname@example.org , where queries were to be sent. There has been no reply to date to an email sent to this address on the day the advertisement was published,i.e 12th August. This mail had asked the following questions:
The qualification of Dr. Loknath Kumar and his registration number.
The date and year of his having received post graduate qualification in “radio medicine” and whether it was a recognized one under the Indian Medical Council or the Karnataka State Medical Council rules.
The names and registration nos. of the oncologists referring patients to this clinic.
The titles and page nos. of the standard text books of medicine and/or Oncology referring to this line of treatment.
- Whether any insurance company will reimburse bills connected with this therapy.