Update on Starchild Abraham Cherrix

Turns out his tumors are shrinking. No, it isn’t because of the immuno-therapy he has been recieving or the quack Hoxsey treatment either. Part of Cherrix’ settlement was that he’d be allowed to continue his alternative treatment and that radiation therapy might be used as well.

Some might claim this is a victory alternative therapies, but you’d be wrong.

Low doses of radiation have shrunk the tennis-ball-sized tumor in his neck to the circumference of a half dollar, and the tumor in his chest similarly has decreased, Abraham said Monday by phone after completing his course of treatment.

“I’m feeling wonderful,” said Abraham, who has Hodgkin’s disease, a cancer of the lymphatic system. “There’s a pretty good chance that I am cancer-free.”

The notion thought that Abraham is cancer-free is wishful thinking though according to Orac at Respectful of Insolence.

It’s unlikely that Abraham is indeed “cancer-free.” Sure, the tumor in his neck and the tumor in his chest have shrunk. Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a very radiation-sensitive cancer, and Abraham has never received radiation therapy before. I would have been surprised if Abraham’s tumors didn’t shrink markedly in response to the radiation. It may even be possible that, despite the persistence of a half dollar-sized mass in his neck that Abraham has been rendered what we in the biz call NED (i.e., no evaluable disease). NED basically means that there is no tumor detectable on physical examination or radiological imaging. The small remnant may be scar tissue. Or it may not be. (The only way to find out for sure would be to biopsy it, although a PET scan would be helpful.) Chances are, however, that these shrunken masses probably still contain living tumor cells. After all, Abraham has no further to look than his previous experience. His first round of chemotherapy put him into remission, which is by definition NED. Despite the fact that his tumors shrank away to nothing, they nonetheless managed to return. Worse, because he relapsed, it is quite likely that Abrahamstill harbors tumor cells elsewhere in his body. That’s the reason the oncologists wanted to give him chemotherapy to treat his relapse in the first place. The bottom line is that this promising initial result will most likely have little bearing on his ultimate survival. Initial shrinkage all too often does not correlate well with survival, particularly in a case like this (although, certainly, the failure of a tumor to shrink in response to therapy certainly does correlate inversely with survival).

My reading of this is that while the radiation therapy helped shrink the tumors, which is probably a good thing, the chemotherapy would have gone after cancer/tumor cells in other parts of his body. Hence while this isn’t bad news, it is not of the level that Cherrix is making it out to be. Being optimistic is one thing, magical thinking on the other isn’t. The bottom line here is that the result is due to evil conventional medicine and the alternative stuff played no role.

Previous posts below the fold.

Chilling and Sad
Update on Teen Undergoing Alternative Cancer Treatment

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Steve Verdon
About Steve Verdon
Steve has a B.A. in Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles and attended graduate school at The George Washington University, leaving school shortly before staring work on his dissertation when his first child was born. He works in the energy industry and prior to that worked at the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the Division of Price Index and Number Research. He joined the staff at OTB in November 2004.