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"Unproven" Cancer Methods

Stephen Barrett, M.D.

In 1955, the American Cancer Society established a committee that served as a central cordinating force for tracking and evaluating dubious methods of cancer management. The committee originally referred to these methods as "unproven" even though all of them could be properly labeled as "quack." In 1991, the society switched to the term "questionable," which would not include new methods that are being studied responsibly. Today the society uses the term "alternative and complementary methods," which include a few methods that could conceivably turn out to be useful. The changing terminology reflects the society's perception of the marketplace as well as legal and political considerations.

In 1971, when "unproven" meant "quack," the society published Unproven Mehtods of Cancer Management a 240-page book that listed the following methods. A few of these methods are still available today.

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This article was posted on September 9, 2001.