Oregon State UniversitySpecial Collections & Archives Research Center
Vitamin C and Cancer: A Personal Perspective
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I administered ascorbate very tentatively to a few near-moribund cancer patients commencing in November 1971, the route chosen being by continuous intravenous infusion of at first 5 grams every twenty-four hours, then ten grams a day, for an empirical total of ten days, followed by the same dose by mouth. In a few of these very early patients the effect was very dramatic indeed and almost unbelievable. One example will suffice to make the point.

Mrs. K., a lady of 64, was operated upon in September 1971 and was found to have a massive irresectable ovarian cancer. No treatment was possible, and she was sent home to die. She was readmitted in late November 1971, semi-conscious with massive ascites. This was drained, leaving a rock hard palpable tumor the size of a football, rising from the pelvis. Intravenous ascorbate was commenced and to everyone's surprise, and certainly to mine, the tumor began to steadily diminish in size, until it became quite impalpable over a period of some three weeks. This remarkable happening was confirmed by an initially highly skeptical colleague. This bedridden, moribund patient became ambulant, and I remember her yet, helping the nurses carry food trays to other patients.

Suddenly one evening about a month after admission she commenced profuse vomiting and died within hours despite our attempts at resuscitation. At autopsy, the pelvic organs looked remarkably normal, but small seeds of tumor were scattered through the abdominal cavity, particularly on the underside of the diaphragm, the actual cause of death being high intestinal obstruction from multiple adhesions. I sent the slides to the leading British cancer histopathologist, Professor Rupert Willis, who reported that the residual tumor seedlings still showed active mitosis, and the only difference between the original tumor biopsy of September, and the autopsy material, was a high level of inter-cellular calcification in the latter, usually a sign of high host resistance.

This dramatic patient only lived 28 days after "treatment" commenced, which to my mind demonstrates the futility of regarding increased survival times as the only yardstick of benefit, as convention requires.

However as our experience increased, I soon came to realize that not all cancer patients responded in such a dramatic manner, and I sometimes wonder whether, had our early patients presented in a different order, we might have lost interest quite early on.

I continued to prescribe supplemental ascorbate to many terminal cancer patients, and over the years we did encounter a small series of quite dramatic cases that sustained our continuing interest. I shall only mention one more, the only case of its kind on record, to the best of my knowledge.

This concerns a 40 year old man with widely disseminated reticulum cell sarcoma, confirmed by lymph node biopsy. Arrangements were in hand for him to be treated by the conventional methods of radiation and chemotherapy, but due to a purely administrative mistake, and not as the result of a deliberate clinical decision, this could not be commenced for two weeks. As a purely holding operation, he was started on intravenous vitamin C, and within two weeks all trace of his disease (hepatomegaly, splenomegaly, gross disseminated lymphadenopathy, mediastinal enlargement, and pleural effusion) had completely disappeared. He was released home without conventional treatment and on oral ascorbate. As the months went by, his continuing well-being raised understandable doubts about the correctness of the original diagnosis, despite the histological "proof," and his ascorbate was gradually reduced. After one month without any supplemental ascorbate his disease returned in all its original manifestations. He was given a further period on intravenous ascorbate, again with complete resolution of his illness. This man remains well more than 10 years later, still on supplemental ascorbate. Spontaneous remission of cancer has been recorded on quite a number of occasions, but this is the only case on record who has gotten better twice! I may add that the original slides have now been examined by quite a number of both British and American pathologists, and all agree with the correctness of the original diagnosis (16).