The modern world is full of scams, lies, untruths, and junk science. Indeed, for a lung cancer survivor or caregiver, finding truth about lung cancer in our Internet world of mis-information is extremely difficult. How do we know what to believe? Perhaps you've heard of Belle Gibson, the health food purveyor and wellness guru, who spent years convincing us she had a cure for cancer. Don't know the story? Read it here. How did we buy into Gibson's claims? How do we avoid another scam trap? Here is my list for sniffing out a phony lung cancer cure scam.
1. Ignore anyone who broadcast-messages a cure for cancer. No one discovering a cure to cancer will announce it on a daytime TV show, or a TV infomercial. The person discussing the "cure" will more likely act and talk like a nerdy scientist rather than a TV or movie personality. The announcement language will be hyper-technical, interspersed with statistical terms comparing this to that under a given circumstance. The announcement could be televised but the audience will be filled with scientists and physicians. But before the telecast, there will be a series of journal articles discussing and critiquing the findings. The announcement will likely follow the form and tenor of the CERN Higgs Boson "god particle" discovery. Watch that coverage and mentally compare it to an episode of The Chew. If you don't hear words like "the combined difference of five standard deviations", you are listening to a hoax.
2. The cure announcement won't be a sales pitch. Think of the biggest news event you've ever seen, say the announcement of 9-11. Discovery of a cure to cancer will be bigger -- much, much bigger! It will be a world-wide-headline-news story and will be announced by a government. Following the announcement, there won't be a 1-800 number or world wide web address to buy the cure! It won't be a pharmaceutical company announcement. Yes, new drugs showing progression free survival improvement are announced in pharmaceutical company news releases, but these are clinical trial results for a new therapy, not a "cure" announcement. And recall what a new lung cancer treatment drug commercial looks and sounds like. There are all these legal disclaimers, side-effect disclosures, and restrictions on taking the drug. A lung cancer or any cancer cure won't be a commercial advertisement of a drug or treatment. It will be a celebration and the biggest news event of your lifetime!
3. Be very wary of a dietary supplement touted as a cure. Cancer is a disease of the human genome. Each of us has the genetic predisposition to have every kind and type of cancer ever discovered. Science understands the genetic nature of the disease and a changes in diet or taking a dietary supplement does not change or effect our genetic make-up. A change in diet to lose weight, avoid diabetes, or improve cardiovascular health is a good thing, but no one claims taking a dietary supplement or a change in diet cures diabetes or heart disease, except scam artists. A healthy diet has many benefits; curing cancer is not one of them.
4. Self-promoters touting heroic cancer survival stories are scammers. If you want to read and believe heroic survival stories, they are in forums such as this one. Our survival stories sell hope; they don't sell product. No one here is seeking fame for surviving lung cancer. Certainly, no one here is getting rich surviving this awful disease. Real lung cancer patients know that cancer sucks, treatment sucks, scans suck, the whole process sucks. No one here sits for a TV interview claiming to beat lung cancer by taking this, that or the other thing. While the first rule to being successful in sales is to sell yourself, we are not selling anything.
5. Social media promotion is a scam in the making. Who is going to offer a product or treatment that cures cancer on social media -- a scam artist! Social media likes and shares are not scientific peer reviews. The Super Bowl Justin Timberlake selfie boy achieved overnight fame, but for what? Perhaps he could use that fame to sell tee shirts, but a lung cancer cure? Seriously? And be wary of news outlets who publicize these miracle cure announcements. TV and newspapers sell scam promoters also. They publicize sensationalism so a 30 second report on your 5 o'clock news of a wellness guru who discovered a cancer cure is what -- a scam! Do you know of TV reporters with a PhDs in Microbiology or Pharmacology? Where do they get the competency to evaluate scientific claims? Here's the point; they don't care about scientific authenticity; they want to generate sensationalism. Media sensationalism sells media, not cancer cures. Social media clicks sell social media, not cancer treatments.
Lung cancer is a horrible disease. Sadly, there are horrible people in this world who take advantage of our misfortune to rob us of time and money. Only our vigilance and common sense can protect us. Remember, there is no such thing as a cancer cure, yet! When one is announced, the world will know and celebrate.
Stay the course.