How can you tell if a cancer cure that is advertised is real or not?

A cancer diagnosis can be a frightening thing, and it is true that many of the treatments can also inspire fear.

In many cases, patients and their families might look for alternative treatments. However, it is unfortunate that there are people who take advantage of this fear by selling fake cancer “cures,” mostly online.

Not only are these “cures” unproven, some are actually harmful. In June 2008, the Food and Drug Administration issued a press release citing fraudulent cancer cure claims found on the Internet.

The FDA sent 135 warning letters to companies who sell products that claim to prevent and/or cure cancer. You can view these companies on the FDA website at According to the FDA, these products have not been shown to cure, treat or prevent disease as the companies claim and have not been approved by the FDA.

The Internet provides a quick way to market fake claims, which is why “miraculous cancer cures” and various other phony claims and products circulate so quickly.

It is important to understand that cancer treatments and/or medications can only be marketed and sold if approved by the FDA. One way in making sure that a type of treatment has been approved is by visiting the FDA website or calling 1 (888) 463-6332 to inquire about a type of treatment.

The FDA lists the following as “red flag” phrases for easily detecting bogus claims:

  • “Treats all forms of cancer”
  • “Skin cancers disappear”
  • “Shrinks malignant tumors”
  • “Non-toxic”
  • “Doesn’t make you sick”
  • “Avoid painful surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, or other conventional treatments”
  • “Treat Non Melanoma Skin Cancers easily and safely”
  • “Scientific breakthrough”
  • “Miraculous cure”
  • “Secret ingredient”
  • “Ancient remedy”

Visit the FDA website or consult your doctor with questions about cancer treatments. If you are interested in complementary and alternative medicine, you may find information from the National Center of Complementary and Alternative Medicine in addition to consulting with your doctor.

For more information contact Courtney Britton, librarian at Cancer Services of Greater Baton Rouge at (225) 927-2273,, or visit the Education Center at 550 Lobdell Ave., Baton Rouge.

ä Internet Resources:

FDA: Fake Cancer Cures

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

This column is presented as a service by Cancer Services of Greater Baton Rouge, a United Way affiliate.