Cancer Medicine Quackery Religion

How is it that cancer quack Stanislaw Burzynski is still grifting in 2023?

This year, cancer quack Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski turned 80. Unfortunately, he doesn’t seem to be slowing down charging patients with advanced cancer huge sums for false hope.

I’m back. Unfortunately, real life in the form of work and a couple of other things intervened to keep me from delivering my usual Insolence. It’s time to start back up, and, unfortunately, I realize that I have to discuss Stanislaw Burzynski.

Longtime readers of this blog will know that about a decade ago I used to write a lot about cancer quack Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski and his unproven (even disproven) treatment with antineoplastons. When I wrote about Burzynski, I often used to detail how, since the 1970s(!), he has been deceiving desperate patients suffering from deadly cancers, in particular brain cancers like diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG). Even worse, the victims of his quackery have often frequently been children. Even worse still, the extreme expense of the Burzynski Clinic’s treatments, which not infrequently runs into the hundreds of thousands of dollars (or pounds, given that so many of his patients seem to come from the UK), families characteristically resort to mortgaging their houses and massive crowdfunding efforts to pay this exorbitant expense. Typically, these crowdfunding efforts—and, sadly, I’ve seen all too many of these over the last 15 years—feature a sympathetic cancer victim portraying Burzynski’s mix of antineoplastons plus his made-up “everything but the kitchen sink” variety of “personalized gene-targeted” therapy (which he claimed to have invented before M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, for instance) as their only hope to survive, all too often credulously bolstered by mainstream news publications. Then came the pandemic, and within a couple of months COVID-19 and the resulting tsunami of pseudoscience, quackery, antivaccine, and generally anti-public health misinformation and disinformation took over. Unfortunately, although I’m getting back to normal three and a half years later, COVID-19 still dominates. Indeed, although I’ve mentioned Burzynski since the pandemic in the context of how toothless state medical boards have been and how he had pioneered many of the techniques of misinformation used by COVID-19 cranks today, the last time I wrote a post that was primarily about Burzynski’s cancer quackery was almost five years ago, when he was developing an online series purportedly about patients whom he’s cured.

Perhaps I had thought that, after the Texas Medical Board’s most recent failure to shut the Burzynski Clinic down, Stanislaw Burzynski had faded into the quack sunset. He did, after all, turn 80 in January, and I had faint hope that he might finally decide to retire. Unfortunately, it turns out that I was wrong, as I was saddened to discover when a reader sent me a typical Burzynski cancer story that could easily have been a Burzynski cancer story in 2009 or 1999 or 1989 or even 1979. The story appeared on Fox News earlier this week and was framed with a very Fox News sort of headline (Pregnant woman with brain cancer refuses abortion: ‘Killing my baby wouldn’t have saved me’) and blurb (“Tasha Kann is defying her doctors’ predictions: ‘It’s a miracle from God that we are both here’”). It’s a story that appears to have come from a local northern Michigan news report, which was similarly credulous. Basically, what this story does is to graft an antiabortion message onto the very old, very familiar story that many victims of quackery come to believe, that their original science-based physicians were wrong, that they made the right choice to seek out “other” options,” and that the  chosen quack is their only hope of living to see their children grow up. As I’ve discussed before with the cases of Hannah Bradley and some of Burzynski’s other “success stories,” quite frequently these stories come from people who are fortunate outliers and survive significantly longer than the (usually) median survival quoted to them. (As I like to say, medians have two sides, and patients who are unfortunate to be on the wrong side of that media survival estimate do not produce hopeful testimonials, mainly because they’re dead.) Also, as in the case of Ms. Bradley, often these patients have undergone significant courses of “conventional” treatment with chemotherapy, radiation, etc., that could impact how long they survive their cancers.

So what is Tasha Kann’s story?

Brain cancer vs. abortion: How Tasha Kann’s story has been framed

Let’s start with the Fox News story, because it is the most recent:

“We recommend that you get an abortion.”

That was the advice Tasha Kann received from doctors in Michigan shortly after she learned that she had brain cancer in 2022.

The young mother, who was 20 weeks pregnant with her second child, had just been diagnosed with anaplastic astrocytoma grade III, a rare and aggressive malignant tumor. Her doctors urged her to end her pregnancy so that she could receive chemotherapy and radiation.

“I told them absolutely not,” Kann shared with Fox News Digital in an interview.

As is the case for so many patients seduced by the promise of the Burzynski Clinic, Kann’s story is heartbreaking. She was young. She was pregnant. To treat her cancer, her doctors recommended that she terminate her pregnancy. I can only imagine what a harrowing situation that was to be in and how terrible the decision that had to be made was. Let’s see how Fox News portrayed her situation and decision:

Kann’s cancer battle began in 2021, with what she thought was a migraine.

As she was lying in bed waiting for the headache to pass, she started to feel tingling in her arms and legs, and was suddenly unable to move or stand.

Assuming she was having a stroke, Kann yelled for help and managed to call 911.

At the hospital, a CT scan revealed a large brain mass.

“I was a little scared, but I never lost hope,” Kann said of her diagnosis. “I knew I had to be strong for my baby.”

Kann said she still vividly recalls the moment that a group of three doctors entered her hospital room and stood at the foot of her bed.

“They all looked at me and told me my best chances of survival would be to get an abortion and start treatment immediately — which might give me five to eight years of survival,” she told Fox News Digital.

As a breast cancer surgeon, I wondered about this recommendation. Although it is not common, a diagnosis of breast cancer requiring chemotherapy made while a woman is pregnant is not that uncommon anymore. For such women, termination of pregnancy is presented as one option but generally not pushed. Why? We now have a long experience administering chemotherapy during pregnancy for breast cancer patients in their second and third trimesters. It can be done, and the outcomes after birth have been generally good. For example, here is what the National Cancer Institute has to say about breast cancer during pregnancy on its PDQ page for patients:


Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping the cells from dividing. When chemotherapy is taken by mouth or injected into a vein or muscle, the drugs enter the bloodstream and can reach cancer cells throughout the body (systemic chemotherapy).

Chemotherapy is usually not given during the first 3 months of pregnancy. Chemotherapy given after this time does not usually harm the fetus but may cause early labor or low birth weight.

Ending the pregnancy does not seem to improve the mother’s chance of survival.

Because ending the pregnancy is not likely to improve the mother’s chance of survival, it is not usually a treatment option.

Here’s what the American Cancer Society says about it:

For many years, it was thought that all chemo would harm an unborn baby no matter when it was given. But studies have shown that certain chemo drugs (such as doxorubicin, cyclophosphamide, fluorouracil, and the taxanes) used during the second and third trimesters (months 4 through 9 of pregnancy) don’t raise the risk of birth defects, stillbirths, or health problems shortly after birth, though they may increase the risk of early delivery. Researchers still don’t know if these children will have any long-term effects.

If you have early breast cancer and you need chemo after surgery (adjuvant chemo), it will usually be delayed until at least your second trimester. If you are already in the third trimester when the cancer is found, chemo may be delayed until after birth. The birth may be induced (brought on) a few weeks early in some women. These same treatment plans may also be used for women with more advanced cancer.

Chemo is generally not recommended after 35 weeks of pregnancy or within 3 weeks of delivery because it can lower the mother’s blood cell counts. This could cause bleeding and increase the chances of infection during birth. Holding off on chemo for the last few weeks before delivery allows the mother’s blood counts to return to normal before childbirth.

When I first saw this story, I wondered if the chemotherapy for this particular form of brain cancer was sufficiently different that these recommendations during pregnancy don’t apply. However, I then saw that the Fox News story features a physician relating more or less the same things, in particular that chemotherapy shouldn’t be given within three weeks of delivery for the very reasons mentioned above and who also noted, “”Pregnancy termination in a woman with a central nervous system malignancy may necessarily be a choice pending the clinical situation,” In general, though, although a number of chemotherapy regimens can be safely administered during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy, we avoid radiation therapy, endocrine therapy (treatments that block estrogen), and certain targeted therapies until after delivery.

I also wondered what hospital Kann went to. They live in Oscoda County, Michigan. Because I live in Michigan, I knew right away that the family lives in the northern lower Peninsula in a pretty rural part of the state. Even Bay City or Saginaw, neither of which are large cities, would be a pretty long drive (an hour to an hour and a half or more). There are a number of hospitals in Oscoda County, but they are generally small to medium-sized community hospitals unlikely to have the specialized capabilities necessary to optimize treatment outcomes in patients with brain cancers and even these hospitals could be a haul, depending upon where in the county the family lives. The only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centers in the state are in Ann Arbor (the University of Michigan) and Detroit (Karmanos Cancer Center), both in the southeast corner of the state. As I found out later, Kann was initially treated at U. of M. at least a two hour drive away.

But what about astrocytomas? What might have been Kann’s prognosis when she was identified? As is the case with most brain cancers, her prognosis wasn’t great, but it was actually better than a lot of patients with other kinds of brain cancer who went to the Burzynski Clinic. The Brain Tumour Charity notes for a grade III Astrocytomas that about “27% of people diagnosed with a high grade astrocytoma live for five years or more,” which, as we have seen, is actually significantly better than for most brain cancers that have been discussed on this blog in the context of cancer quackery. On the other hand, such prognoses generally assume beginning therapy expeditiously. In the case of a grade III anaplastic astrocytoma, generally the treatment recommendations include surgery (if the tumor is resectable), followed by radiation and chemotherapy.

As we know from the story, Kann did not undergo any of this upon diagnosis:

When making the decision about her care, Kann said her faith was the biggest factor.

“Aborting my baby was never an option to me because it goes against God’s will,” she said.

“I had many deep conversations with Jesus that week in the hospital, and knew that if I held onto the Lord and his promises, he would keep my baby safe.”

Kann said she was determined to keep her baby alive and deliver her safely — after that, she would worry about saving herself.

Even as her scans remained stable for the remainder of her pregnancy, Kann said she was “disgusted” that the doctors continued to recommend an abortion.

“If the cancer was already as bad as they said, killing my baby wouldn’t have saved me anyway,” she noted.

This is not an entirely unreasonable rationale for choosing not to treat the cancer until after the child was delivered, although clearly it was a risky choice for her and her fetus, although probably more so for the mother. Kann clearly knew this, as this local news story from June indicates:

She says she was told her best option for survival was to abort her baby and to start chemo and radiation right away. Tasha says giving up her child was never an option.

“I was going to keep her and fight and go home and fight it,” said Tasha.

Tasha says being a hospice nurse, she knows the odds are against her. She wants to beat them and watch her baby grow up. She gave birth to a healthy baby girl named Gracey back in October.

Now here’s where the story gets confusing. Kann delivered Gracey nearly a year ago. Now here’s where the story is unclear to me. You would think that, as soon as Kann had recovered from delivering her baby, she would have begun treatment for her brain cancer. It’s not at all clear to me that she actually did that. In fact, I did find a GoFundMe page dated June 2022that told a somewhat different story; it also told me that Kann had gone to the Rogel Cancer Center at the University of Michigan, which (as you recall) is an NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center. This early GoFundMe only asked for funds because Tasha Kann was unable to work:

I’m Emma Tasha’s sister. With the encouragement of so many individuals looking to assist Tasha and her family we decided to start a gofundme.

Tasha was sent to the hospital on June 4, 2022 with stoke like symptoms. After multiple MRIs and CT scans she was diagnosed with an inoperable, incurable astrocytoma brain tumor.

As of now the only approach the doctors have is chemotherapy and radiation. Given Tasha is 20 weeks pregnant the doctors at U of M are hoping to wait until 28 weeks before starting treatment so they can deliver the baby but only time will tell.

Given the circumstances, Tasha will be unable to work. Please continue to lift up and pray for Tasha and her family.

Notice how different this is from the stories being told now. The doctors at U. of M. apparently did not tell her that she had to get an abortion to begin treatment. We do learn, however, that the tumor was apparently inoperable at the time of diagnosis last year. There’s also a discrepancy between the Fox News story, which says that her battle with cancer began in 2021, and all the other stories that say she wasn’t diagnosed until June 2022. Regardless of the discrepancy, reading between the lines I would speculate that the oncologists likely presented abortion as one option to consider, the other option being to delay treatments until at least 28 weeks gestation, when they could induce delivery and then begin treatment, a perfectly reasonable option. Given that she did not deliver until October, presumably Kann waited for her pregnancy to go to term and then delivered naturally.

Enter Stanislaw Burzynski

Again, nowhere could I find an account that indicated whether or not Tasha Kann underwent evidence-based treatment of her cancer between the delivery of her baby in October 2022 and around June 2023, when the appeals for funding to go to Houston (where the Burzynski Clinic is located) began, starting with this GoFundMe dated June 2, 2023. Unfortunately, it takes a form with which I’ve become all too familiar, and it tore my heart in half to read another one of these stories. Before I quote the GoFundMe, you need to know that apparently in May an MRI showed progression of her cancer. Again, it isn’t clear to me whether Kann had undergone any evidence-based cancer treatment from October 2022 to June 2023, but at this point it no longer matters, because at this point she fell into Burzynski’s clutches due to the false hope he offers, which led the family to withdraw a bunch of money from their retirement fund to begin treatment:

***UPDATE*** Tasha began treatment on 06/13/23 at the Burzynski Clinic in Texas. The initial payment of $22,000 was due on this date. These funds were from a 100% withdrawal from the family’s retirement and savings accounts. We are seeking donations to continue the treatment! Doctors are confident the treatment will be successful and we will be getting MRIs regularly to check the progress. Tasha Kann is 30 years old and from Northern Michigan. She is a wife and a mother to two beautiful children (Deklan,2 and Gracey, 8 months). Tasha is a registered nurse and has dedicated her life to helping others. During Tasha’s second pregnancy, she discovered the following: Almost a year ago Tasha was diagnosed with Anaplastic Astrosytoma Grade lll. Tasha was told the best chance of survival and to buy more time would be getting an abortion and starting radiation and chemo immediately. After much research and many prayers, Tasha decided her best outcome from this disease would be to continue her pregnancy and fight it as naturally as possible, refusing chemo and radiation. Tasha could get into details with statistics, but I will just say she made the right decision. Last week the Kann family received a call from the oncologist with some devastating news. The doctor informed the Kann family after reviewing her scans from the last year all together and looking at the entire picture, the cancer is growing from her central nervous system and is diffused deep, invading 3 lobes of her brain. Tasha no longer has a formal dx and they consider this Gliomatosis Cerebri. The prognosis is 12 months. With this, there are no treatment options. The doctors also told the family radiation to the CNS is never a treatment option and the new doctor was unsure why the doctors gave this as an option in the beginning. For the Kann family, this goes to show the Lord hears us! All of us. Tasha, refusing their treatment, inevitability saved her life. Jesus has carried her this far and I know he isn’t done yet. Most patients with this disease are bedridden and die within months. Tasha is here for the fight and she hopes she has made that clear to everyone. The Lord’s report over her health speaks volumes over the doctors’ reports and she is here to testify!! Tasha will continue to stand firm in her faith and in His promises! Over the last year, with the support of her family, friends and community, she has been able to continue with alternative treatments that have kept her strong, and healthy and have kept the cancer from growing/ spreading or forming additional tumors. Western medicine may have sent her home to die, but she is going to keep pushing on and living her life! Tasha and all of us refuse to give up, that’s something that doesn’t live in her. This is going to be a long journey ahead and we are so thankful for the gift of community and everyone’s support thus far. Tasha is in need of taking massive action which will involve seeking treatment from the Burzynski Clinic in Texas. Tasha was deemed a qualified candidate to be treated at the Burzynski Clinic in Houston Texas. The cost of the clinic is $17,000 a month for 12+ continuous months totaling well over $200,000. Insurance will not pay for this treatment.  Thank you for your time and consideration!

From Fox News:

After visiting the clinic in person, Kann had a port installed in her chest so she can administer the immunotherapy treatments at home in Michigan.

Around the clock, she gets 12-minute infusions every four hours.

As of now, the Kanns said they cannot find an oncologist in Michigan who will work with them and the integrative clinic, so they will most likely have to go back to Texas every couple of weeks. Meanwhile, they are continuing scans in Michigan.

Longtime readers will recall how much this sounds like the case of Laura Hymas over a decade ago, in which the family couldn’t find an NHS oncologist in the UK willing to “work with them” administering Burzynski’s quackery. Their laments were captured in one of the two hagiographic propaganda films made about Burzynski by Eric Merola. At the time, I really felt for the oncologist and his ethical dilemma as he tried to explain to Hymas why he thought that Burzynski’s treatments didn’t work and therefore why he couldn’t administer them for her. Also, wow. I don’t recall Burzynski requiring infusions every four hours around the clock back in the day and wonder what the “rationale” for that is.

As is frequently the case, her husband’s coworkers are getting involved, as is the whole community:

I hate how quacks harness the goodness of people in the service of their grift.

Unfortunately, Burzynski’s still being Burzynski, still offering his bogus unproven (and disproven) treatments to desperate cancer patients like Tasha Kann, leading them to do the sorts of things that Kann and her family have done: Drain the family retirement account and start fundraising, which has thus far been very successful, so much so that the family has raised over $304K of the $350K goal from over 3,300 donors, likely as a result of all the news coverage her story has gotten, including this appearance on Wednesday morning on Fox And Friends.

It was also from video of the Fox and Friends appearance that I finally learned whether Kann accepted any treatment after the birth of her daughter Gracey. At about 1:58 in the video, the interviewer asks Tasha and her husband Taylor Kann what treatments she did after her baby was born. She doesn’t answer, exactly, but states that she’s now taking “alternative treatments” at the Burzynski Clinic after her doctors told her that they didn’t have anything that could help her anymore, an answer that makes me think that she probably didn’t undergo any chemotherapy or radiation after her baby was born. But, again, who knows?

From the Fox And Friends article accompanying the video:

Kann researched holistic approaches to help her fight the cancer while pregnant — including sticking to a Keto-like diet, exercising and taking supplements, she said.

Now, nearly a year later, doctors have changed her diagnosis as they discovered the cancer had spread — giving her less than a year to live.

This passage suggested to me that Kann stuck with the “holistic” treatments after she had given birth and that eight months later her tumor ha spread. In any event, gliomatosis cerebri is a subtype of astrocytoma and can result as an astrocytoma progresses. This progression led to a spate of stories in June about how “Western medicine” had “sent her home to die” but how the Burzynski Clinic was giving her hope.

At this point, I’m not going to relitigate the evidence showing that Burzynski’s antineoplastons, which he “discovered” in the mid-1970s, do not work against cancer, which I have discussed in great detail over the course of several years. You can click on some of the embedded links if you wish to learn more. Ditto Burzynski’s “personalized gene-targeted cancer therapy,” which is basically an “everything but the kitchen sink” parody of real precision oncology seeking to target driver mutations in an individual patient’s cancer. (I note once again that Burzynski is so arrogant that he claims to have invented precision oncology before renowned cancer centers like M.D. Anderson and Memorial Sloan-Kettering.) Instead, before I update the Burzynski story, I want to quote an update to Tasha Kann’s story, for instance August 3, 2023:

On Sunday afternoon, Tasha lost vision in her right eye which came back gradually shortly after. We have hope that this is the treatment making something happen or change in her brain.

And August 8, 2023:

Tasha has been having numbness in her face and feet and a fairly consistent headache. Tasha tries to stay strong during these times but it is challenging. Tasha continues to take the medication from the Burzynski Clinic in Texas.

These developments do not sound good. I feel for the Kanns. I really do. That will not stop me from continuing to discuss why Burzynski is a quack, however.


Over the course of reading several of the news stories, blog posts, and propaganda pieces about Tasha Kann, I could not help but notice a recurring theme about how they describe Burzynski’s quackery. Specifically, here’s another passage from Fox News besides the one quoted above that describes Burzynski’s cocktail as “immunotherapy”:

She and her husband are seeking alternative immunotherapy at an integrative cancer treatment center in Houston, as Kann maintains her decision to not receive chemotherapy or radiation.

This reinforced to me just how much Burzynski labels what he is doing to be consistent with the latest trends in cancer treatment. For example, 10-15 years ago he rechristened his antineoplastons (plus other concoctions) as “gene-targeted therapy” in order to capitalize on the then-new wave of “precision oncology,” in which cancers were subjected to genetic and genomic analysis to try to identify what genes were driving their growth and spread and choose cocktails of targeted pharmaceuticals to treat them. Over the last 5 years or so, however, the latest wave in cancer treatment has been immunotherapy, including cancer vaccines but, more commonly, drugs that target regulators of the immune system, such as Keytruda (pembrolizumab). Indeed, the treatment of triple negative breast cancer (a particularly nasty subtype) has evolved so that the standard of care now includes for most patients Keytruda. So naturally, Burzynski has rechristened whatever it is that he’s doing these days at his clinic as “immunotherapy.”

Indeed, right there on the front page of the Burzynski Clinic website, I saw:

Our goal is to provide sophisticated cancer care utilizing a personalized and precision targeted immunotherapy approach.

Our personalized cancer therapy utilizes an understanding of each patient’s cancer genetic and immunotherapy make-up to unravel the biology of their cancer and to identify effective treatment strategies using targeted therapies and immunotherapies that are aimed at specific genes or proteins that are found only in cancer cells or their environment.

What, exactly, does this mean. Elsewhere on the website:

Personalized and precision cancer therapy utilizes an understanding of each patient’s genetic make-up to unravel the biology of their cancer. Using this information, our physicians attempt to identify treatment strategies that may be more effective and cause fewer side effects than would be expected with standard treatments. By performing genomic tests and analyses, our physicians customize treatment to each patient’s needs.

Personalized medicine may include the combination of targeted therapies and immunotherapies with conventional therapy. It may also involve the use of investigational agents (Antineoplastons), as approved by the law. Patients and/or their caretakers receive training for administering all therapies at home, as well as nutritional counseling.

So, as I rather expected when I started researching this post, Burzynski is still using his antineoplastons. He’s also still using his bogus brand of “personalized gene-targeted therapy.” To this he has added “targeted immunotherapies.” Because of course he has. Immunotherapy is one of the hottest areas of cancer research right now, and Burzynski has always been very talented at glomming onto the latest hot areas of cancer research. (In fairness, Stanislaw Burzynski far from the only cancer quack rebranding his quackery as “immunotherapy.”) The treatment options listed on the website are pretty vaguely described, as has traditionally been the case for Burzynski. As is also usually the case, the website is pretty short on actual scientific and clinical evidence, most being old publications (some of which I’ve discussed before) and case reports, but long on testimonials.

The saddest part

What I usually find to be the saddest part of stories like that of Tasha Kann is the realization that, while it’s true that the patient being lured by cancer quackery by someone like Burzynski or any other cancer quack generally has a high probability of dying of her cancer anyway even if she were to choose conventional therapy, quacks rob patients like her of two highly valuable things. The first is time spent pursuing ineffective treatment that could better have been spent on treatments to maintain quality of life so that the most can be made of whatever time is left with family and friends. The second is money. Although in this case, Kann’s family has successfully raised over $300K, that was only after a large withdrawal from the family retirement fund and in many other cases families end up draining their bank accounts and even selling their houses in order to pay the quack. Moreover, in this case, all the money raised by well-meaning family, friends, co-workers, and strangers on the Internet isn’t going to actually help Kann and her family. Instead, it will go to continue to enrich an already wealthy quack, so that he can continue to prey on patients just like Tasha Kann, as well as their families.

It’s worse in this particular case, too. Whenever a patient like Tasha Kann chooses quackery over medicine, the story is always portrayed as one of bravery, of free thinking, of daring to do the hard thing and go for a cure. However, Kann’s case has the additional overlay of her being portrayed as the most heroic of mothers, someone who chose to risk her life rather than kill her baby:

Gracey, Tasha and her husband Taylor’s second child, was born last October. She is now thriving, even as her mother continues to battle brain cancer.

“Every single day, I look at my beautiful baby and think about how easy it was for them to tell me to abort — like she was nothing,”

“If I had listened – like most patients do, because they trust their doctors and don’t do their own research – my baby wouldn’t be here,” she reflected. “It’s a miracle from God that we are both here.”

There is clearly an element of truth to the idea that it is brave for a mother to sacrifice for her children, even though this narrative seems somewhat at odds with the early narrative that Kann was apparently given the option of delivering her baby early versus, as far as I can tell, terminating the pregnancy and beginning chemotherapy eight weeks sooner. Here’s the problem. If you Google Tasha Kann’s name plus “cancer” you will find article after article on antiabortion websites proclaiming her as a hero and proclaiming how Guod convinced her to keep her baby. Unfortunately, if and when Tasha Kann succumbs to her brain tumor, the narrative will be seamlessly updated to portray her as a martyr, which is an even more compelling story to propagandists.

Whatever the ultimate outcome of the story ends up being, Stanislaw Burzynski will still have profited enormously from the suffering of Kann and her family and what is, in essence, free advertising provided by Fox News, which likely greatly increased the largess from the public that allows the Kann family to continue to pay him. It’s what he’s been doing for nearly five decades now. I fear that he will never retire and won’t stop until the inevitability of death finally takes him, as it eventually does all of us. Unfortunately, even though Burzynski is now 80 years old, he shows no signs that I’ve been able to see of slowing down. He could potentially continue to prey on desperate cancer patients like Tasha Kann for another decade. Certainly, neither the Texas Medical Board nor the FDA has been able to stop him since he first got started in the 1970s, and, I fear, they won’t be able to stop him in the future either.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

32 replies on “How is it that cancer quack Stanislaw Burzynski is still grifting in 2023?”

The easy answer for the US is that our health care system, comprised of a rapacious middle-man payment system that is egregiously overpriced in comparison to every other developed nation (detailed quite nicely in a recent post from Your Local Epidemiologist 9/19), cultivates an environment of distrust, skepticism, paranoia, and a long list of other attributes that make for very fertile soil supporting all manner of grifting and quackery. That doesn’t explain the large number of UK people signing up, but I’m sure there’s a good answer for that.

Well, I get the impression the love for quackery is more or less universal, regardless of healthsystem.

In the UK, while there is still quackery, its far less pervasive. Also the NHS will not be part of any of this nonsense, so those who get told conventional treatment has gone as far as possible often have to look overseas to find a cancer quack willing to fleece them.

In The Netherlands this is more or less the same, but we see people starting crowdfunding actions to get some treatment, that isn’t covered by insurance, either because it is very experimental, or because it is plain quackery. Mostly these treatments are in foreign clinics. We have a mandatory health insurance, which covers most treatments, exept physiotherapy and dental care, exept for children under 18. And there are additional insurances, one that covers things not covered in the mandatory insurance, including physiotherapy, but also some quackery, and one for dental care. These insurances are mostly limited to a certain amount of money, or number of treatments.
Don’t know how things in Germany are, though I get the impression that quackery is pretty populair, regardless whether is is covered or not. On television one can see a lot of advertisements for health products and I suppose a lot of it is quackery. And I remember staying in a small hotel in Traben-Trabach, where there was some Ayurvedian clinic at the other side of the road.

Texas seems to be an extremely lasseiz-faire state. Also, their state senate just acquitted their Attorney General Ken Paxton of fraud, even though the Assembly had voted overwhelmingly to impeach him. I don’t know if he could find a more suitable (i.e., more lax) regulatory environment anywhere in the first world.

Right. Over the past few years, several cranks have relocated to Texas: Wakefield first, then Adams, Null & friends and Bigtree. Obviously, they love the tax situation but as Null observes, the state doesn’t interfere with your activities- which is useful when you advise/ treat seriously ill patents… I mean run natural health retreats on your estate several times a year- testimonials by participants list vegan meals, juicing, exercise classes, mediation and energy healings by the host- laying on of hands and reports of tumours and symptoms disappearing.
In addition, Texas like Florida, won’t have vaccine mandates, masking or mandatory closing for pandemics.

“nor the FDA has been able to stop him …” – Why the heck not? If he’s administering this stuff in a clinical study under an IND, he’s obligated to file annual safety reports. By now, surely, the agency has seen sufficient evidence to either require an independent external data safety board to review his outcomes, or to simply shut the show down. In the 90’s and early 2000s, there was a flurry of FDA activity. The last FDA action I can find evidence of was in 2013, when FDA sent him a letter detailing observations from an inspection (, listing (my synopsis): non-compliance with protocol procedures, overstatement of results, and inadequate disclosures in the informed consent forms. As best I can tell, there was no followup.

My guess is that it is not under IND and that he’s probably carefully crafting his claims to make sure that his “treatment” falls under the category of “supplements”. Thanks to DSHEA, it is almost impossible to remove a supplement from the market or regulate the administration of supplements.

I wonder if he is taking advantage of some of the relaxation of access for terminal patients in past years. 

Regardless of when Burzynski retires or shuffles off this mortal coil, it doesn’t necessarily mean the end of the Burzynski Clinic.

Burzynski’s son Gregory is an internist who did a fellowship in integrative/functional medicine, has worked at the Burzynski Clinic, and is reportedly qualified to do immigration physicals for the Dept. of Homeland Security, though he also has a practice of his own. Quoting from its website:

“Dr. Gregory Burzynski feels medicine should be predictive, personalized, preemptive, and participatory and this was his focus when forming Houston Concierge Medicine & Wellness Center.”

Getting the four Ps is not cheap. At the highest tier (Platinum, $750/month) you get benefits including a monthly in-person appointment, four house calls a year and a free DEXA scan, which is typically used to measure bone density and various soft tissue parameters including one’s visceral fat deposition pattern and android/gynoid ratio.

The clinic also sells Tru Niagen, a supplement that’s supposed to “nourish” your cells and boost NAD+ levels. A steal at only $119 for a month’s supply.

He seems like a natural to carry on the Burzynski tradition.

A monthly in person appointment? What’s the use of that, exept making the doctor rich? I can’t remember when was the last time I had an in person appointment with my gp. Yes, at my yearly flu vaccination, I might see him, together with his assistents, but really in person? I think the last time was when my dad was alive and that was with my dad, because was fallen in front of a bus. Nothing serious, but still I considered it a good idea to let the doctor take a look at him.

There are two statements (or.cliches) which never fail to depress me.
‘Lessons will be learned’ (invariably referring to a repeated screw up) and; ‘Do your research’.

Like everything that is “faith-based,” you can’t lose. If you pray to be cured and recover, God saved you. If you pray and succumb, it’s God’s will. Once you’ve hooked your mark, you win. Like Carl Sagan said:

One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.

Nobody here was bamboozled igor, they understand things. Your lies are attempts to mislead and misrepresent the facts: perhaps you’re simply upset that readers here see through the lies that your clowns who subscribe to your subcrap swallow without thought?

Well, it appears that the nature of evidence, certainty, humility and logic bamboozles Igor daily. Luckily, he has a mirror and a black belt in preening to keep him grounded.

Bamboozled. What a dumbass. I saw an 83 y/o copd’r in clinic today who would have been DEAD MEAT without the vaccine. Instead, she gets paxlovid and an extra-long stay from her daughters from out of town.

Funny thing that “faith based” people rely on evidence andd yiu rely on faitth (there must be a world wide consproracy).

Just because something is confusing for you doesn’t mean that no one can understand it.

Also, I’ve been giving some thought to your theories about the weird control/depopulation agenda you think is behind all of the things you don’t understand and again and again I keep coming up against the same problem – if what you say is true the evil conspiracies are too large to maintain.

For your theories about covid and vaccines to be true there’d need to be so many people involved acting in ways that they know are immoral and saying things that they know to be untrue that there wouldn’t a scattered handful of people speaking out, there’d be hundreds of thousands of ’em. And they wouldn’t just have vague allegations and insinuations, they’d have receipts and solid proof.

There’d be lists of not just names and dates, but signatures attached to statements proving some sort of agenda. You’d have tens of thousands of doctors speaking out and showing hard facts backed by hard data. You’d have investors turning on the heads of companies and organizations backing the conspiracy because those investors know that if it all falls down they’ll be left with nothing.

And remember how in my one flight of fancy there was my henchman Nick? The one who turned against me because he knew that happy hour at his favorite bar would be part of the collateral if my plan went through? There’d be people like him too, people with friends, families and things they like about the world as it is now.

You can tell me that there are people speaking out, people who are posting data, but not on the scale that matches the scale of the conspiracy you’ve come up with.

These are all people who have nothing to lose by speaking out and everything to lose by keeping quiet. They will lose friends, family members, their very livelihoods and way of life if they go along with the plan, so why are they going along with it?

And if you go back to your handwave of ‘there’s no knowing how these people think’ then you’re placing a not insignificant of the world’s population into the category of ‘these people’. Do you truly believe that so very many people are so very evil?


You’re exactly right. You make perfect sense and can easily show mountains of evidence
a long time ago, on RI, I tried repeatedly to enlighten a young anti-vaxxer about why his convoluted CTs about vaccines causing autism and a grand cover-up by entrenched operatives (a la RFKjr/ Wakefield)
were crap AND how his on-line writing would ruin his chance for a career in PH despite his MPH ( albeit based on dodgy material)
of course, he scoffed and said I was misinformed, an agent of The Establishment and, possibly, a Nazi
BUT I learned recently he got a job at the FLORIDA Dept Of PH!

So, not everyone makes sense and listens to evidence and some officials/ depts are completely loony.

Speaking of quackiness, does the mRNA vax remain in the arm of pregnant women or end up in the breast milk?

Breastfeeding infants benefit from their vaccinated moms’ protection. The horror.

“Antibodies and T-cells that neutralize the SARS-CoV-2 virus appear in the milk after maternal vaccination. Neutralizing capacity may increase even while antibody levels drop…
Mothers who receive an mRNA vaccine have marked increases in milk antibodies that are similar to or higher than after a COVID-19 infection.”

More evidence for LaGlurge to ponder:

That’s the funny things about antibodies – they need to spread throughout the body to be effective.

Biology’s a trip, isn’t it?

The voices in his head said that (in fact, there’s a bit of an echo in there).

Everyone knows you really aren’t here to learn john, whether you’re too lazy to try or simply incapable, I can’t say [although I make it 50/50] but:





No evidence of the massive harm you anti-science [or is it science-ignorant?] clowns keep claiming. [No doubt to the massive payouts to the researchers you also keep asserting exist, right?]

Don’t you ever get tired of misrepresenting and ignoring reality?

Thanks, John, for the flashback to 2020 when I had an AMA pregnant diabetic mom on life support after we for forced to do a crash section because she came down with Delta and was in respiratory failure. You guys really are ignoramus-revisionist-historian, self-congratulatory bottom-feeders.

Speaking of breastfeeding, could it be you were weaned prematurely? Have you explored this possibility?

Over the last year, with the support of her family, friends and community, she has been able to continue with alternative treatments that have kept her strong, and healthy and have kept the cancer from growing/ spreading or forming additional tumors.
Well, clearly that’s not the case if it has spread & is now affecting multiple lobes of her brain.

Such a sad, sad story.

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