Two years ago, I wrote about an herbal product called Neoplasene, an excharotic derived from bloodroot that is marketed for treatment of cancer. I pointed out in that article that apart from a couple of in vitro studies suggesting the active chemical ingredient has some interesting effects on cancer cells, there is little evidence the product is an effective cancer treatment. And there is ample anecdotal and in vitro evidence of harm caused by the product, which kills healthy tissues as well as cancer cells and has been shown in humans to create horrible wounds while leaving hidden cancer that later spreads and kills the patient. No controlled research has been done in dogs and cats, and there is no reliable evidence to support the claims made by the marketers of this product.
Nevertheless, due to the power of anecdotes, and the weakness of government regulation of herbal products, this preparation is still marketed for use, and there are veterinarians who employ it. A recent case report in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA) discusses the lack of evidence supporting the use of bloodroot and illustrates the significant harm these products can do.
Childress, MO. Burgess, RC. Holland, CH. Gelb, HR. Consequences of intratumoral injection of a herbal preparation containing bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) extract in two dogs. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 2011;239(3):374-379.
The report discusses two dogs, belonging to the same owner, who had Neoplasene injected into skin tumors. The first, a 2 year old golden retriever, had a benign tumor about 2cm in diameter. Such masses usually cause no problem for dogs, but if they are disturbing to owners or if they become injured or infected, they can be easily removed surgically, which is curative. Unfortunately, the treating veterinarian elected to inject the mass with Neoplasene. Six days later, the tumor had become bruised and much larger. The veterinarian instructed the client to give an oral homeopathic remedy to reduce the swelling of the tumor (which, given the mountain of evidence that homeopathy is nothing more than water and a bit of placebo effect, cannot reasonably viewed as an acceptable standard of care). After the swelling failed to resolve following drainage and bandaging, the pet was taken to the hospital of the veterinary medical school at Purdue University. By this time the benign 2cm diameter mass had become a 6cm area of severely inflammed and necrotic (dead) tissue.
The dog had surgery to remove the mass and a margin of healthy tissue around it, which involved a very extensive surgical procedure. After many weeks involving several additional surgical procedures and physical therapy to treat the loss of mobility caused by the large wound, the patient eventually made a full recovery.
The second patient discussed in the report, owned by the same client and treated by the same original veterinarian as the first dog, also had bloodroot injected into a benign tumor. A smaller amount of Neoplasene was used, and it appears that some of this leaked out after the injection. As a consequence of this, or perhaps of the variability in unregulated herbal products, the tissue reaction was not as severe as in the first patient. When the mass was surgically removed, an area of inflammation and tissue necrosis was observed near but not in the tumor. Luckily, this dog experienced minimal complications.
Clearly, complications can occur with any medication or treatment that has a measurable physiological effect. Anything that has no possibility of any side effects isn’t doing anything! And it is important to remember that anecdotes cannot be used to prove either the safety or the efficacy of a treatment. Anecdotes of benefit provide only enough evidence to justify more rigorous, systematic testing, not proof that a therapy works. In the majority of cases, such anecdotes turn out not to be accurate when more objective testing is done. Cases in which harm may have resulted from a treatment also cannot prove the treatment is unsafe. They do, however, provide reason to be cautious, and they raise the level of supportive evidence of benefit that should be expected prior to employing the treatment. Medicine is always about balancing the urgency of intervening in a patient’s condition with the available information about the risks and benefits of the intervention.
In the case of bloodroot, there is limited preclinical evidence to suggest it might be a useful treatment. It does kill cancer cells, but so does bleach, which is obviously not a good candidate for use as a medicine. The evidence that bloodroot kills cancer cells and spares healthy tissues is weak and contradicted by numerous cases of obvious tissue damage following application of the chemical. And there simply are no clinical studies to indicate a benefit in actual patients, much less a benefit greater than the potential risks. So we are left with anecdotes about bloodroot curing patients, which are of limited value as such anecdotes are often wrong for many reasons, and anecdotes of patients suffering severe, sometimes disfiguring or disabling injury after using it. Severe injury may not always happen, but it is an extreme risk to take when there is no real reason to expect the treatment has any benefit. Both of these patients would have been effectively cured, with much less suffering, injury, and expense for the owner, if they had been treated with conventional surgery rather than bloodroot.
Given the current state of the evidence, it is irresponsible of veterinarians to use bloodroot products on their patients. And in my opinion it is absolutely unethical for companies and individuals to profit from marketing these remedies without investing the resources in proper clinical studies to prove that they can be used safely and that they actually benefit patients. As I have discussed many times, herbal remedies are likely the most promising area of alternative medicine in which we will hopefully find effective medicines. But until they have been rigorously tested, and until they are regulated as stringently as pharmaceuticals, they are a dangerous gamble with our pets’ health and cannot reasonably be viewed as an alternative to established conventional treatments. Just as the pharmaceutical industry must be carefully watched to constrain the bad behavior that the profit motive can generate, so the herbal medicine industry cannot be trusted to provide trustworthy information and safe and effective remedies without much more oversight that it currently receives.
A powerful piece, Skeptvet. Thank you for your constant vigilance and advocacy for truth and rationality.
Thanks, Narda. Since I’ve been writing this blog for about 2 years now, I’m starting to be able to see more than just a single moment in the narratives about the issues I discuss. I first wrote about Neoplasene quite some time ago, and now additional information and evidence is accumulating about the risks of this treatment. Fortunately, the information I’ve provided about it is also now readily available to people searching the internet and trying to make up their own minds about what the evidence says, so hopefully at least a few will be spared the harm this product can do. And perhaps legitimate research might eventually be done, though that seems unlikely since the marketers are able to sell the product regardless of the lack of evidence for real benefits and the reports of injury.
Thanks, skeptvet for revisiting the neoplasene nonsense.
The very notion that one vet treated two dogs in the same family and saw the damage (and devestation) boggles the mind as to how he could even venture to give it any legitimacy not once, but twice and god only knows how many other pets are subject to this harm. Had I been the owner, I would have sued.
As if animals don’t feel pain. Shame on those vets who put them through this, they should have their license revoked!
“it is irresponsible of veterinarians to use bloodroot products on their patients. And in my opinion it is absolutely unethical…”
It’s a shame it’s not also illegal.
Thank you for another excellent post.
Thank you for your research and information on Neoplasene. My dog had a cancerous mouth tumor removed about 45 days ago and now it has reappeared. The vet has been pushing Neoplasene since July and I have steadfastly maintained that, in my heart, I don’t feel good about this. I know when I take her this week, he is again going to push Neoplasene, only this time the salve. Are there other treatments out there (I know I can surgically have it removed a second time) that are safe and effective?
The most effective treatment will depend on the details: what kind of tumor, size, location, etc. The best choice, if possible, is to find a veterinary cancer specialist you can consult with locally. Oral tumors are frequently malignant (squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma are the most common in dogs), but some can be treated effectively with surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, special cancer vaccines, and other options.
The most iportant thing is that if you can’t communicate comfortably with you veterinarian, you should seek another opinion.
Susan, I echo Skeptvet’s advice, wholeheartedly. A veterinary oncologist would be an excellent “second opinion” and are also well-versed in current (evidence-based) treatment approaches.
Please, no matter how hard your vet pushes and promotes neoplasene, decline it, at all costs. Neoplasene can cause very serious harm and damage to tissue, and I imagine, a great deal of pain since it is rather “caustic”.
Good luck to your dog and you, I hope you can get a consult with a great oncologist!
Unfortunately many animal lovers and owners cannot afford prolonged treatment that at the least they will still be paying off years after the pet is gone. What are the least expensive alternatives and what percentage of cats – since that is what I have – with large rapid growing tumors will be able to survive surgery and treatment for longer than the medical bills will take to pay off?
Unfortunately, you’re right that money s often a limitation on the care we can provide. I wish it weren’t true, but it is. Unfortunately, you get what you pay for, so using an unproven, cheap remedy isn’t going to get you a good outcome for less money. It’s likely to do nothing at all, and if you’re unlucky it will make things worse. If a pet is suffering and there isn’t the resources to employ effective care, than grasping at straws isn’t the best answer for the pet, even though it is tempting for us to do so rather than face the reality of the situation. There is, at least palliative care which is often inexpensive and can improve quality of life in the short term. And though it is always painful, and more so when it is necessitated by economics, euthanasia is kinder than prolonging discomfort with useless or dangerous products like Neoplasene.
Hello everyone. I am here reading about neoplasene because I have a boxer. He is currently healthy and hopefully he stays that way. He is the 7th boxer in my life so I am somewhat familiar with the breed. I was investigating veteranarians in British Columbia when I came across an article that stated that a practising veteranarian was PROHIBITED by the assocation of using Neoplasene. There are so many contradicting testimonials about neoplasene that is hard to draw a conclusion about it. I wish I had a sample so I could take it to my laboratory to test. If anyone has the exact chemical formula, I would be interested in having it. My name and email address are: Paul V; firstname.lastname@example.org
The key is that you can’t draw a conclusion from testimonials. Anecdotes can easily be found both for and against every medical therapy ever tried. They simply don’t tell us whether such interventions are really useful or not. What we need is controlled research, from the basic in vitro level all the way through clinical trials. But the folks selling Neoplasene are happy to make money from it without making an effort to do such research.
I have been checking out neoplasene and don’t know much about it but I have had my own experience with bloodroot. Topically bloodroot will kill the cancer and if it is not cancer it will not react, so I don’t know what your info is that it kills the good cells too. When you do kill the cancer the tumor will become inflammed because of the kill off and medication will help with that.
The claim that bloodroot preferentially kills neoplastic cells is based on low-level in vitro research (cited in my original article), and it has not been shown to spare healthy cells in actual living patients. In fact, as the cse reports in this article and numerous others cited previously show, it very definately does kill healthy cells as well, causing often dramatic disfiguring lesions. So you are starting with a false premise. If you have used it and seen minimal damage, you have been lucky, but that doesn’t negate the clear evidence that bloodroot derivatives are cytotoxic. It’s another example of the naturalistic fallacy, the false notion that somehow such “natural” products are autimatically safe and needn’t be rigorously tested.
This would all be hilarious if it wasn’t so damn tragic.
Please correct me if I am misinterpreting or coming to the wrong conclusions which are intended to be made from reading Skepvets articles.
* We are supposed to avoid using Neoplasene at all costs as it may cause some damage to healthy tissue and the patient may experience some unpleasant side effects during this cancer treatment. Instead, as stated above, we should look to more ‘conventional’ treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation? Surely you are aware that chemotherapy and radiation cause widespread damage to healthy tissue? That people and animals often die from the side effects of these treatments rather than their cancer?
* Because Neoplasene causes ‘horrible wounds’ and may leave some cancer cells behind which can later spread and cause death to the patient, we are supposed to forget that this happens with devastating frequency during conventional treatment?
Are you aware that recent peer reviewed studies show that radiating cancer cells make them 30 times more resistant to treatment?
* “You get what you pay for”. Because Neoplasene is cheap, this supports SkepVets assertion that it is “useless and dangerous”. It would follow then that the obscene amounts of money made from pushing (often useless!) chemo drugs should be curative. I think we all know that is not the case.
* And if anyone speaks up with a positive experience using Neoplasene, they “must have been lucky”. The only case reports worthy of our attention are the ones showing detrimental effect. What they should have done if things were looking really grim, and they couldn’t afford the cost of conventional, expensive treatment, is invest in some palliative care or euthanasia. Whatever you do, don’t prolong the suffering with a dangerous natural treatment. But if you can afford it – chemo and radiation. You should not be fooled by any hope offered from others telling of their positive experiences using Neoplasene.
*Lastly, to v.t. Any vet using Neo should have their license revoked. Seriously? Would you have sued if you dogs had been chemo’d to death?
Such ridiculous strawman arguments and abundant logical fallacies show you clearly aren’t interested in any opinion other than your own. For the record:
1. There is no good reason to think Neoplasene is beneficial. Anyone who says it is is not basing that on reliable evidence, merely opinion or speculation. This doesn’t mean that it could not be beneficial, only that right now there’s no reason to think it is.
2. Neoplasene has clear, and often terrible side effects. The fact that conventional therapies have risks as well is true but irrelevant. I explain quite clearly the known risks and benefits of any therapy I use, and the two must be weighed in making decisions about what to do. The problem with Neoplasene is still that we know only a little about its risks and there is no evidence for benefits. That makes using it instead of conventional therapies irrational and unwise.
3. Your comments about conventional cancer therapies are hysterical and ignorant. The goal of veterinary cancer therapy is to maintain a good quality of life as long as possible. I treat dogs and cats with cancer frequently, with a clear explanation of risks and benefits, and we are very often successful at significantly relieving suffering and improving quality of life. Dismissing the value of this is far more closed-minded than simply being skeptical of unproven clams about Neoplasene.
4. Individual case reports are unreliable guides to hether or not a treatment works. It is not a matter of “being lucky,” but of recognizing the limitations in the conclusions we can draw from anecdotes. Thankfully, science helps us to do this or we would still be draining blood from people to treat pneumonia and most of us wouldn’t live to adulthood due to all the diseases you’ve conveniently forgetten that conventional medicine so effectively treats.
If you have any actual evidence to offer, feel free. If you just want to rant about the charictaure you’ve made of me, that doesn’t help anyone.
Steve Miller, yes, I stand by my statement. Any vet who uses neoplasene without valid research to back it up, and goes so far as to make outrageous claims to an unsuspecting, naive owner, should have their license revoked for malpractice.
You’ve missed the point entirely. We know that chemotherapy is not a cure-all, nor has it ever been claimed as such, but it has a better chance of treating cancer than unproven, dangerous alternative therapies.
And, your statement, “Whatever you do, don’t prolong the suffering with a dangerous natural treatment.” – that’s exactly what many cases with neoplasene do, it prolongs suffering, exacerbates suffering, all the while the pet suffers because the owner and the alt vet ignore science and a reasonable approach to a treatment that may have some likelihood of effectiveness. The vet has an obligation to inform the pet owner of all the risks with any form of treatment, as well as a reasonable prediction of outcome. Stating to a paying client that neoplasene will cause the tumor to become necrotic because the neoplasene is eating the tumor and this is a sign of recovery, is just….criminal.
My dog was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma prostate cancer feb 2011 used neoplasene and has lived 2 years now and is very healthy, why all the skeptism this has worked on other dogs his brother is also using it for nasal cancer and is doing well.
Glad he’s doing well. Unfortunately, that says nothing about whether or not neoplasene works.
I assume Doctors know, but most people probably do not know, that Chemotherapy has it’s roots with Mustard Gas used in WWI. It attacks cells as they reproduce through mitosis. Cancer cells tend to reporduce more frequently (as do red blood cells in bone marrow) and hence are more susceptable.
While there has been advancements, the fundamentals of Chemo are the same. The drugs are essnetially poisons given in doses too low to kill. Same can be said about Radiation.
The only treatments I am aware of for cancer that are not toxic are newly developed viral treatments using modified virii that specifically target certain cancer cells.
I really see no counter arguements against neoplasene that could not be said of most cancer therapies. It’s only due to many years of trial and error with existing therapies that they have managed to limit the negative side effects to the extent they have. Going back to their origins, their use was much less effective with many more negative effects. Should that have stopped their use? I mean we *are* talking about a toxin *created to kill people*…Just throwing this out there. Waiting for perfection rarely leads to any progress, and when the alternative is certain death…
The origin of these chemicals is irrelevant and sipmply used to imply an inherently malign character to the chemicals. Substances are toxin largely in relation to dose. Large amounts of water and oxygen can kill, and appropriate amounts of chemotherapeutics can heal.
What matters is the degree to which we understand the pharmacokinetics and physiologic actions of these durgs and have controlle dreserach evidence to support their safe and effective use. There’s a huge gap between perfection and next to nothing. The information we have to guide our use of chemotherapy is massively greater in quantity and quality than what we have for neoplasene. Neoplasene is justified on the basis of a few low-level preclinical studies, some anecdotes, and a lot of hype. The risk and benefits of chemotherapy are well characterized so patients can make informed decisions. The risks and benefits of neoplasene are unknown, so people cannot make an informed choice about using it. Conflating the two is not accurate.
I agree 100 per cent with your article, sadly we put our beautiful and gentle dog through the neoplase treatment after we were told that she had osteosarcoma on on right front paw and she would die within 6 weeks, we took her to a holistic vet and was put on neoplasene orally and later on the cream, needless to say that her leg become a horrible mass of dead tissue and the bleeding was horrendous, she suffered terribly for 3 weeks until we decided she could not suffer like that anymore, had we took her to a clinic which we only found out too late, they would have probably anputed her leg, and today she would be alive, of course with a very long recovery, but i was prepared for that, she was a super dog, we miss her terribly
Thank you for being willing to share your story. I am very sorry for what you and your pet went through. Hopefully, others may be spared the same painful experience thanks to your story.
Thank you for being willing to share your story. I’m sorry you and your pet had to go through that. Hopefully, your story will help others avoid a similar experience.
Steve Miller, Skepvet is right. Your logical, well thought out rebuttal is nothing short of a straw man argument.
You are better off sticking with conventional therapies such as chemo. I mean there is nothing like poisoning a body and destroying an immune system in the fight against cancer. It’s success rates are staggering and besides the loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, lack of energy, hair loss, weight loss, a weakened immune system that opens you up to all types of other ailments including infections and uummm … more cancer, there are very few side effects.
Don’t bother with a healthy lifestyle, just do what you want and trust the conventional doctors, big pharma, and studies commissioned by corporations looking to sell you something.
And remember Mr Miller, from the main page of this site, the only ones looking to make money are those pushing alternative treatments. There is no hope living a healthy lifestyle, there is only hope in scientific cures for disease, you know, because so many diseases have been cured over the past 100 years of modern medicine !!!
Sarcasm, yet utterly devoid of evidence. You are the one peddling blind faith here.
I have read all the comments here. My german short haired pointer just had a tumor removed from right rear leg at foot area. She is 11 yrs old. My vet mentioned this option. I do agree with others about chemo and radiation. Several family members and friends had cancer with those treatments. I would not recommend them to anyone. Big pharm company’s like to make big bucks but I bet would not advise there family to take them. It is a personal choice, and we should not condone others on their choices for treatment.
Sue, do you know what blood root/black salve does? It is a caustic and corrosive substance that burns and destroys tissue (any tissue it comes into contact with), leaving burns, open cavities, scarring and worse, it leaves the cancer intact. There are many reports of people having had their quack doctors tell them their skin cancer or tumor was healed, only to find out that the cancer remained and spread. Those patients have had their entire noses, mouths, ears, and other body parts literally burned off due to this illegally marketed crap. The importation of products containing blood root compounds is banned. It’s use is no different in pets, and in fact, is worse since pets cannot tell their owners they prefer not to have their skin burned off, and suffer the miserable effects. Those effects usually end up in amputated limbs or failure to recover because the tumor and cancer was not properly treated.
Quacks tell their patients that blood root “eats” and “destroys” and allows “sloughing off of” their tumor or cancer. But, what they don’t tell you is that it is:
1. Only the tissue that was burned and destroyed sloughs off, leaving remaining tissue subject to further damage and leaving the cancer to spread.
2. Caustic and corrosive and the damage is irreversible.
3. Illegal to market for health purposes, primarily for healing cancer.
4. Banned from importation.
Do some research and you’ll find a lot more reasons why neoplasene, blood root, black salve are dangerous. Better yet, do a google image search of blood root damage.
No one claims that conventional chemo and radiation are not without some risk. But, it certainly provides a higher likelihood of survival than doing nothing, or worse, using quack treatments such as blood root that can only cause severe damage and harm, leaving the cancer to remain and spread. We’ve made good progress in treating cancer both in humans and pets, remission and survival rates are better, and there is no alternative treatment that has ever been proven to cure cancer, ever.
And yes, you have a personal choice. But your dog doesn’t. Leave this to trained veterinary oncologists to provide you cancer treatment options. Any boarded oncologist who suggests neoplasene for cancer treatment should be barred from practicing medicine and perhaps forced to undergo neoplasene treatment themselves.
One of my cats has recently been diagnosed with soft tissue sarcoma, so I am researching as many treatments as possible. I admit I have not read all the information presented here (to include the comments), but, regarding your response to Steve Miller’s comment dated 14 Nov 2012, I must say: WOW. Who’s calling the kettle black? Really. Further evidenced – at least to me – by your response to Byron Barone’s comment of Dec 7, 2012, when you are presented with an actual case of a dog being helped by neoplasene, you merely brush it off as ‘there is no proof that neoplasene actually helped the dog’. I only found out about neoplasene tonight from a friend of mine who has been successfully treating her cat with neoplasene. Some differences: she is administering the drug internally, with food, not as an injection. Also, along with this treatment (as with many others), you must also change your pet’s diet. As I do not remember the particulars of the treatment of her cat, I was going to ask her to respond to this blog to provide another side to this argument. However, after viewing the one-sided blasts attacking any other view, I will not subject her to such assaults. I fully expect to have an acidic response to my comments, to include some attacks on my ignorance, short-sightedness, etc., etc., etc. But. This is your blog. You are doing your best to try to help people who are most likely in a state of shock, extreme sadness, and desperation, by warning them against something you truly believe is harmful to their pets. For your efforts, I applaud you. However, for me, I believe there is enough pain and disease in this world to go around to allow for both professional alternative and mainstream treatments. Godspeed to all who are living with cancer, either in themselves or in loved ones. Until a cure makes it way into the general population, we can only do our (hopefully informed) best to provide our loved ones a good quality of life.
The fact that I understand individual anecdotes don’t prove the value of medical therapies isn’t an attack on anyone or a sign of closed-mindedness. The whole purpose of scientiic investigation is to compensate for all the sources of bias and error that make such ancdotes largely useless as evidence. People may use neoplasene and their pets may get better. People have also used Lourdes water, homeopathy, laetrile, bloodletting, and anial sacrifice to treat disease and gotten better. Do those stories prove those therapies work? Should every such ancdote be accepted as compelling evidence? Because if so, then we can never demonstrate any treatment to be a failure.
I understand that desperation drives people to try grasp at straws, and I don’t blame them for it. I do blame the companies and doctors who sell them the straws, though.
We don’t just believe that neoplasene doesn’t work how it’s claimed to work, we also have evidence of the REAL HARM it causes. That you would choose such harm for a pet who cannot voice their objection, based on zero evidence of safety and efficacy, is ignorance.
Let’s recap: It’s CAUSTIC, damages healthy tissue and leaves the cancer SPREADING.
What proof do you or your friend have that the oral form works? Provide evidence. Otherwise, you or your friend are just giving a useless and potential harmful product to an innocent pet who would benefit far more from proven, useful treatment.
No, I’m not attacking you. I’m sick to death of harmful treatments being promoted by quacks and innocent pets suffering because of it.
I been researching black salve etc. Some sites say it is “caustic” if mixed with various other compounds. What does “caustic” actually mean ?
On the whole i am a fence sitter in the matter until i understand more about it. From what i have seen on the net first is that people can have allergic reactions to it and the results are not pretty. But other cases no problems.
Just trying at the moment to clarify some of the words used.
“Caustic” means it burns tissue chemically. Proponents will say it only burns cancer tissue and leaves healthy tissue untouched, but this is absolutely untrue, which is why its use in humans is not permitted and why peopel and pets using it have experienced serious chemical burns.
For people whose pets have been diagnosed with cancer and who are trying to decide on a treatment plan, I recommend scheduling a consultation with a board-certified oncologist if you live near one. A consult typically costs around $120-150, and for this an oncologist will review your pet’s medical records, examine your pet, give you expert recommendations tailored to your pet’s specific situation, give you information on success rates and side effects, and answer your questions. Oncologists are specialists who treat cancer all day, every day, and will be aware of the latest research and the latest treatments. Then you can make truly informed decisions. I think you’ll find this WELL worth the money. Your primary vet will be happy to refer you.
KP, burning, rotting and sloughing of healthy tissue leaving a gaping irrepairable hole is NOT an allergic reaction, far from it. Wherever you heard that is most likely some dubious site that promotes black salve and all the danger and harm that comes with it.
I’d also add, it is important when considering cancer treatment for your pet not to dismiss chemotherapy as a horrible idea that will cause your pet hair loss and vomiting. Veterinary chemo is not the same as the human version, and pets usually have a good quality of life during chemo.
As v.t. has pointed out, your pet is completely at your mercy in these decisions so please make sure you get your information from quality sources. And don’t make the mistake of thinking that an unproven treatment that inflicts suffering is equivalent to conventional cancer treatment.
Whatever you do, please don’t use this Neoplasene; you might as well inject your poor animal with Drano or battery acid. It’s unconscionable to choose fantasy treatment simply because it makes you feel good because it’s “natural” but makes your animal pay a horrible price. If you don’t think that the vet who “treated” the two dogs referenced in this article deserves to be prosecuted for animal cruelty as well as sued for malpractice, then you didn’t understand the article.
I read here that the main point from the opponents is that there is no scientific evidence of the benefits of Neoplasene, and that all the success stories are simply anecdotes not based on scientific fact. However, where is the research and scientific study that it does not work? Isn’t the point that there is no scientific evidence both a cause for reasoning for or against it? We had a dog last year who went through the chemo and radiation, and he suffered greatly and was not able to be saved. So ours is an anecdote of how chemo and radiation don’t work, so should this be used to question these forms of treatments? Why is there no scientific research being done on Neoplasene? I bet $$$ has to do with it as it would take profits away from pharmaceutical companies – I mean at one point in time chemo and radiation were ‘new’ and ‘fandangled’ therapies and met with skepticism until someone found out how to make money off it. Surely someone will, unfortunately, do the same with Neoplasene.
The burden of proof is on those who make claims, not on those who ask for evidence. If a company is saying their product treats cancer and if they and vets are actively selling the therapy, it is their responsibility to prove these claims true, through science not anecdote.
That said, there is as much evidence of great harm as there is of benefits, so the best that can be said from a scientific point of view is that there is no controlled research evidence, and the anecdotal evidence suggests serious risks as much as potential benefits. The evidence for benefit from neoplasene is no better than for benefit from magic, and the evidence of harm is greater, so the rational thing to do is to stick with therapies for which there is scientific evidence concenring the risks and benefits.
Anecdotal evidence is no longer relevant for chemotherapy and radiation because there is an enormous scientific literature concerning the risks and benefits, so this is a false comparison. Of course there was skepticism at first for these therapies. There is, and SHOULD BE, for all new therapies until they demonstrate their benefits and risks through good data. Chemo and radiation came to be accepted not because they make people money but because the scientific data was produced to show their value. Laetrile and lots of other snake oils for cancer make people money, but the medical community largely rejects them because they have failed to produce the real evidence to substantiate their claims. If neoplasene was proven to work, I guarantee you someone would make a bigger profit off of it than they are now, but even so people are making money selling something that is as likely to harm patients as to help them. My queston for you is why doesn’t this bother you?
Will, your first mistake is assuming that because an alt therapy hasn’t undergone rigorous scientific study, that is because Big Pharm can’t profit from it. Oldest excuse in the book. Hope you understand that a great many medications from Big Pharm are from original substances found in nature.
As skeptvet explains, the responsibility of testing falls on those who make the outrageous claims. Also, that black salve is banned in the US, and illegal to market for health purposes.
There have been studies, such as this one:
that have demonstrated a far greater degree of apoptosis is cancer cells (compared to normal, healthy cells) with exposure to sanguinarine, the active ingredient in Neoplasene. This research suggests that sanguinarine has potential as a chemotherapeutic agent and that more research is warranted. That particular study was published in 2000 so why hasn’t sanguinarine been studied? Because Big Pharma cannot make money on substances they cannot patent.
So you understand where I’m coming from, I’m a veterinarian too. I have never used or recommended Neoplasene, but I have largely given up on the Western medical model and I’m heading in a different direction now so perhaps I will in the future. It took me 11 years to come to the realization that our profession has probably caused far more suffering than it has alleviated – 1 in 2 dogs will now develop life-altering allergies and you are as aware as I of the origin of Parvovirus.
Call me a fool for believing “individual anecdotes”, but I have seen hundreds of dogs, some only weeks old, develop allergies within hours to days of receiving vaccines. And I have seen the allergies worsen with every successive vaccination. Have you seen this too? Don’t you wonder if there is a connection? Do you still vaccinate in series? Do you still vaccinate at intervals? Do you really believe that our profession respects “first do no harm”?
As you can see in my first article on Neoplasene, I am aware of in vitro results suggesting a preferential effect on neoplastic cells. However, this does not demonstrate the drug is safe and effective for clinical use, particularly given that most promising therapies with positive in vitro results fail when applied in clinical trials. It proves it could work, not that it does. And given the numerous reports in humans of severe damage to healthy tissue, which has led to the outlawing of the therapy in people, clearly this study does nothing to suupport use of Neoplasene.
As for the rest, if you have given up on science and science-based medicine, then clearly I think you’ve made a terrible mistake which will harm rather than benefit your patients. Nothing has improved the length and quality of human lfie or so effectively controlled the causes of suffering and death we face as dramatically and effectively as the application of science to healthcare, nutrition, sanitation, and many other domains. Thousands of years of “traditional” medicine led us nowhere, and a couple of centuries of science have made great improvements in our live swhich, sadly, people like you are now able to take for granted and even come to forget entirely in the mistaken belief that these methods do more harm than good.
There is no proven connection between allergies and vaccination, so this relationship is only a hypothesis to be evaluated. There is, however, a stroing relationship between vaccination and the prevention of death and suffering from infectious diseases. This is not only confirmed by science and history but by the resurgence of disease when irrational fear of vaccines leads people to stop vaccinating (see the measles and whooping cough outbreaks in humans). Vaccine practices have changed over time as better evidence has indicated it should, as is always the case with the ever-changing and growing base of scientific knowledge. How do you think we found out about vaccine-associated fibrosarcomas? It wasn’t anecdotes or individual hunches, it was careful methodical scientific research. Any additional harms associated with vaccines, and any subsequent changes in vaccinaton practice,s need to be validated in the same way.
As for “first do no harm,” I don’t see alternative medicine respecting this more than conventional medicine. Alternative medicine simply closes its eyes to the possibility of harm from its practices and seeks to exaggerate the risks for conventional medicine as far as possible. You yourself claim to have give up on science as “the Western medical model,” yet you are happy to cite a study for Neoplasene that doesn’t actually prove anything if it suits your ideological urge to defend the therapy. Yours is not a kinder approach, just one based more in faith than evidence.
Another example of a vet potentially going to the dark side of woo (at least gauging by the terms and tone of Jasmine’s post, I could be wrong). I always want to ask the question(s) – WHY?
Are you easily persuaded by alt med claims? Where are you getting your information that suggests alt med is better than or equal to real medicine? Where is such evidence, and do you critically examine it?
You were trained by the scientific principle, what went wrong that you no longer trust the scientific method?
Realizing that “western” medicine is not perfect, what on earth makes you believe unproven and potentially harmful alt med can do better? Where’s the evidence?
At what point in practice, do you lose your critical thinking skills?
Not meant to be mean or accusing, but those who dismiss science in favor of pseudoscience, must (for lack of a better term) be lacking in something perhaps, what is it? An honest question deserving an honest answer, not that I expect one beyond a personal belief system/magical thinking persuasion.
My experience with this product has been all good. I had a Cavalier at 10 years of age that ended up with an agressive form of oral cancer. It started with inflamation of a canine and within 30 days the tumor was the size of a walnut and growing rapidly. I scrambled to get the dog into drug trials only to find out the ones appropriate for this dog were no longer taking patients. I was running out of time due to the growth of this tumor to find the best treatment. The local vet told me he had weeks to live and the “classically trained” vet oncologist indicating they could try to treat the dog but no promises. I had nothing to lose and money was not a limiting factor for me rather the ability of the dog to get through whatever treatment I selected with a resonable quality of life. The oncologist’s option was to literally remove most of the dogs jaw. So what type of life did that offer the dog – NONE! I went with the neoplasene treatment. The procedure involved debulking the tumor two times and injecting the site with neoplasene then keeping the dog on a dosage of the product which he continues today. The dog was pulled off commercial dog food and placed on a raw diet with no additional chemicals of any kind given to him. My little Keigan is now 12 years old and is doing extremely well. So I would not be dissuaded from using the product. The dog during treatment has always been able to eat and play, there was never any downtime or sickness that is often seen in radiation/chemo treatments with dogs.
So if: “No controlled research has been done in dogs and cats, and there is no reliable evidence to support the claims made by the marketers of this product.”
Then: The inverse cannot asserted without supporting, controlled research evidence.
I see an equal fault on this blog.
Yunnan Baiyoa anyone? Coffee can help prevent Alzheimer’s and that sounds pretty organic to me.
The absence of high-quality controlled research evidence does not allow a definitive conclusion. There is some evidence both for the product (in vitro studies) and against it (reports of dogs and people hared by it). However, we cannot say with a high degree of confidence if it works or not.
The fallacy in your comment is that the prometers of this product are the ones making strong claims that it works and that it is safe without evidence The burden of proof is always on those making a claim, not those pointing out the lack of evidence for it. And given the long history of failed medical therapies that have hurt patients because they were widely used before adequate evidence was developed, it seems foolish to rush into using something like this without mroe than the anecdotes for and against it we currently have. Why, I wonder, does it bother you that I doubt the manufacturer’s claims even without definitive studies yet it doesn’t bother you that they make these claims and sell this product to people without good evidence it is safe and effective? I’m thinking your own biases, perhaps?
OK, “SkepVet” – time for me to pick apart your rebuttals, as you’ve been kind enough to do so to everyone who disagreed with you and to no one who agreed with you.
“Unfortunately, you get what you pay for, so using an unproven, cheap remedy isn’t going to get you a good outcome for less money. It’s likely to do nothing at all, and if you’re unlucky it will make things worse. ”
Um, NOT TRUE. You absolutely do NOT get what you pay for when it comes to medicine. I’ll use medicinal marijuana as an example. MILLION of people have used this herbal remedy to relieve symptoms of various medical conditions, and have had better results and spent less money than with conventional medicines.
“There is, at least palliative care which is often inexpensive and can improve quality of life in the short term.”
The “palliative care” vets recommend for pets with cancer is radiation, sometimes with chemo. NOT inexpensive and it most certainly does NOT improve quality of life over the short OR long term. I had a cat who went through surgery, chemo, and radiation for a hemangiosarcoma. He ended up getting rid of the cancer but died 6 months after his last treatment due to heart damage caused by the treatment. I WISH someone had told me about Neoplasene at the time.
“The key is that you can’t draw a conclusion from testimonials. Anecdotes can easily be found both for and against every medical therapy ever tried. They simply don’t tell us whether such interventions are really useful or not. What we need is controlled research, from the basic in vitro level all the way through clinical trials.”
Anecdotal evidence, aka case studies, provide the basis for the hypothesis used in any clinical trial. Anecdotal evidence is NOT inferior to evidence gained from a clinical trial–it is just a different TYPE of evidence, and it can often be more helpful as it has more external validity (that is, the results are more applicable to real-life outcomes as opposed to the outcomes obtained under the controlled circumstances of a clinical study). I say this as someone who does research for a living and has 3 science degrees. I can refer you to a recently-published study with me as an author if you doubt my knowledge and experience in the field of research.
“1. There is no good reason to think Neoplasene is beneficial. Anyone who says it is is not basing that on reliable evidence, merely opinion or speculation. This doesn’t mean that it could not be beneficial, only that right now there’s no reason to think it is.”
I have MANY good reasons to think Neoplasene is beneficial – and that would be from corresponding with DOZENS of people who have used this on their pets and seen great results. If you’re going to say this is not reliable evidence, then you need to set your parameters for “reliable evidence.” Make sure you account for the issue of bias in scientific studies (including bias in the funding that is provided to study anti-cancer drugs…funding that is often provided by companies that make the chemo drugs to which Neoplasene provides an option) as well as the issue of external validity, which is something controlled studies have major difficulty achieving.
“2. Neoplasene has clear, and often terrible side effects. The fact that conventional therapies have risks as well is true but irrelevant. I explain quite clearly the known risks and benefits of any therapy I use, and the two must be weighed in making decisions about what to do. The problem with Neoplasene is still that we know only a little about its risks and there is no evidence for benefits. That makes using it instead of conventional therapies irrational and unwise.”
Here are the outcomes of the two dogs you cite in your article (by the way…you’re only using TWO examples? That PALES in comparison to the numbers of case reports of successful treatment with Neoplasene): “full recovery” and “minimal complications.” Well that is still a lot better than, you know, the DEATH that my kitty experienced from conventional treatment and the death many other pets experience from chemo, radiation, and surgery. And yes, I see that you claim that a discussion on conventional treatment is irrelevant…and I’m guessing that’s because you “say so.” Alternative treatments for cancer are ALWAYS relevant when discussing a treatment for cancer. Guess what researchers are going to use for a control group in a clinical trial for Neoplasene – the standard for treatment at the time. Just because you say it is irrelevant doesn’t make it so, and if your argument against Neoplasene was strong enough, you wouldn’t need to discourage discussion about the woes of conventional cancer treatment.
“My dog was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma prostate cancer feb 2011 used neoplasene and has lived 2 years now and is very healthy, why all the skeptism this has worked on other dogs his brother is also using it for nasal cancer and is doing well.
December 7, 2012 at 5:28 pm
Glad he’s doing well. Unfortunately, that says nothing about whether or not neoplasene works.”
Well, it worked for that person’s dog. I’m not sure what else you need to determine “whether or not neoplasene works” aside from reports of pets having cancer cured after treatment with it. Big Pharma has blocked research into this drug, so it’ll be a while before we can get one of those tasty clinical trials you crave so much. Until then, anecdotal evidence is all we’ve got. If you want to do a fair comparison, look at the amount of anecdotal evidence you can find that supports Neoplasene as an effective anti-cancer drug versus the amount of anecdotal evidence you can find that says it is both ineffective and harmful. I’ve done my research so I know that there’s more pro-Neoplasene accounts out there than there are anti-Neoplasene accounts.
“The evidence for benefit from neoplasene is no better than for benefit from magic, and the evidence of harm is greater”
Really??? Please do provide me with all the anecdotes on people who used “magic” to treat cancer in their pets that led you to those conclusions? You cite “evidence”…Is this what you might call a “straw man”?
“How do you think we found out about vaccine-associated fibrosarcomas? It wasn’t anecdotes or individual hunches, it was careful methodical scientific research.”
From https://www.avma.org/About/AlliedOrganizations/Pages/ownbroch.aspx :
“in 1991, veterinarians began to notice a higher than expected number of sarcomas occurring on cats’ bodies in places where vaccines are commonly injected.”
That sounds an awful lot like anecdotal evidence…but it provided the basis for investigation of Vaccine-Associated Sarcoma, which is now widely accepted in the veterinary community. Just because Neoplasene is in its anecdotal phase doesn’t mean there’s no evidence for its efficacy! You have to start scientific research somewhere, and the controlled studies you love so much are NEVER the starting point for ANYTHING. The starting point is observation of case studies…a.k.a. “anecdotal evidence.”
“The fallacy in your comment is that the prometers of this product are the ones making strong claims that it works and that it is safe without evidence”
OK, I’m going to assume you meant “promOters”…and NO, there are PLENTY of “normal” people who stand to gain NOTHING from sales of Neoplasene who still advocate its use and/or provide testimonials of how it helped their pets; the majority of Neoplasene advocates won’t make a penny from their advocacy.
PS – congrats on brushing up on your Philosophy 101 terms…but a bad argument is a bad argument, whether or not you use specific phrases like “straw man” and “naturalistic fallacy,” and I can spot one a mile away.
Also, Neoplasene is NOT an “excharotic” (I assume you mean “escharotic”). Here is information from the manufacturers (www.buckmountainbotanicals.net)…I am certain they know more about this compound than you do, and although they stand to profit from selling Neoplasene, they would gain little profit from lying in the technical details presented below:
Neoplasene is not bloodroot, black salve or an escharotic. It is made up, in part, of plant alkaloids extracted from the botanical known as bloodroot and other plant species. These alkaloids are a small constituent of Neoplasene. The action of Neoplasene is apoptotic not escharotic and ointments called black salves vary widely and may, or may not, be escharotic, apoptotic or both. The menstruum used to extract the active chemicals from the plant material is a collection of halogen species. The isoquinoline alkaloids sanguinarine, sanguidimerine, chelerythrine, protopine and others are, in addition to being extracted, also chemically modified and this contributes to the efficacy of Neoplasene.
And as for your attacks on “herbal remedies”…what do you have to say about the effectiveness of medical marijuana, turmeric, ginger, and fish oil (I know it’s not an “herb” but I’m pretty sure most would lump it in with the homeopathic treatments)–to name just a few? First there was all the anecdotal evidence, then clinical studies came in and confirmed the anecdotes. But beyond that, Neoplasene is no more an “herbal remedy” than is aspirin (made from a tree bark extract).
It sounds like you need to study Neoplasene a bit more before you spread MORE disinformation.
Well, it is logically impossible to identify the flaws in a “rebuttal” from someone agreeing with me. And I cannot see why you think I should be expected to do so. Are you going to challenge the arguments of others here who agree with you?
A claim presented as obvious fact but with no supporting evidence. If your argument is going to be based on everyone assuming your opinions to be true, we arent’ going to get very far.
Chemotherapy and radiation can be used with curative or palliative intent. In veterinary medicine, it is clar that the goal is good quality of lif, not maximum survival, and so therapy is less aggressive than in humans and side effects usually mild. In some cases, therapy is not tolerated and has to be abandoned, but in far more patients have good quality time as a result of these therapies. Your failure to believe this is not evidence against it, and as someone who treats cancer reguarly, your opinion is contrary to my own experiences as well as the scientific evidence.
This is imply untrue. Anecdotal evidence is appropriate for generating hypotheses, not for testing them, and it is at nuch greater risk of bias than controlled research evidence. the hierarchy of evidence is well-established, and I would be interested in the references you refer to that suggest this is not the case.
Once again, any basic reference on evidence-based medicine will explain why anecdote is not a reliable guide to safety and efficacy. Or here is a nice introduction to the issues.
And naturally, you feel free to ignore the published case reports that show the harm neoplasene can do while trumpeting loudly the anecdotes that purport to show success. Pure bias obvious for everyone to see. The number of anecdotes available does not increase their evidentiary value, particularly when almost all are presented by biased sources (the manufacturer or proponents of alternative medicine). And the risks and benefits of conventional medicine say nothing about the risks and benefits of neoplasene. Sure, comparing the two would be appropriate if there as actual scientific evidence for the risks and benefits of neoplasene to compare with the thousands of studies of conventional cancer therapies, but there is not.
See, this is the core failure of understanding behind your argument. The fact that something gets better or doesn’t get worse after a therapy is used does not prove that therapy had anything to do with the outcome. Take a look at this list of reasons why bogus therapies may seem to work, or read a bit about cognitive psychology and the fallibility of human perceptions.
What you fail to understand here is that the kinds of evidence used to support magic, astrology, psychics, and other bogus nonsense are exactly the same you are using to defend alternative medicine: primarily personal experiences. Here is someone, for example, who claims a sscience background (as you do) and claims that he consistently sees the truth of the future is revealed in the lines on the palm and in the stars. And here is someone convinced their prayers cured their dog’s cancer. What is that but magic? Either science is the best form of evidence or anyone is free to claim anything based only on their own beliefs and experiences, and that leads to an inability to ever deny any claim about anything.
I’ve already explained that anecdotal evidence is appropriate for generating hypotheses, but not testing them, and that was the appropriate role of this kind of evidence in the discovery of VAS. If, however, the controlle dresearch had not been done, we would not know what if any link there was between vaccination and this tumor, we would simply have some people guessing there was a link and others guessing there was not.
I see no withering rebuttal in your comments, simply irritation that anyone would have the gall to challenge a claim you believe in and a mistaken belief that your experience and other anecdotes are worth more than they are in evaluating meidcal therapies.
The manufacturer claims the substances in their product induce apoptosis of cancer cells preferentially. There is no evidence this claim is true, merely some in vitro studies of bloodroot derivatives. There is, however, ample evidence that products made from bloodroot that contain these compounds are escharatics. There is also the case report I cited in which dogs given Neoplasene experienced exactly the kind of injury escharotics cause. So believe what you like, but I find the info from Buck Moutnain to be less than credible.
As for the herbal remedies and dietary supplements you mention, I have written posts about all but ginger, so if you want my opinion you can read it. But you won’t like it…
“MILLION of people have used this herbal remedy to relieve symptoms of various medical conditions, and have had better results and spent less money than with conventional medicines.
A claim presented as obvious fact but with no supporting evidence. If your argument is going to be based on everyone assuming your opinions to be true, we arent’ going to get very far.”
That comment I made was referring to medical marijuana as an example. Do you really need me to supply links to the clinical studies on the efficacy of medical marijuana, including how it actually induces apoptosis in cancerous cells? It’s a fairly easy, prolific Google search.
“Well, it worked for that person’s dog
See, this is the core failure of understanding behind your argument. The fact that something gets better or doesn’t get worse after a therapy is used does not prove that therapy had anything to do with the outcome. Take a look at this list of reasons why bogus therapies may seem to work, or read a bit about cognitive psychology and the fallibility of human perceptions.”
First of all, you don’t need to school me on cognitive psychology–one of my degrees is in psychology. I am familiar with the fallibility of human perceptions, but the majority of Neoplasene cases I’ve reviewed don’t fit the criteria for that; for example, multiple people are assessing the efficacy of the Neoplasene treatment, and Neoplasene is not frequently combined with a certain other anti-cancer therapy that could be the “real” cause behind the cancer being cured.
I really could go on, but you obviously will grasp at whatever straws you can to defend your argument. That’s just fine. I would just like to leave this link for anyone who comes across this article to read, so that they may get information from a source other than you. I’ll let them make up their own minds after reviewing what you’ve read plus this information on Neoplasene case studies. Peace.
Cali-Girl, do you even stop to think why bloodroot et al is banned in the US? Maybe start there before you come screaming onto a veterinary science blog with nothing but anecdotes purporting how insanely wonderful it is.