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Revici's Guided Chemotherapy

Other common name(s): biologically guided chemotherapy, Revici cancer control, lipid therapy, Revici's method

Scientific/medical name(s): none

Description

Revici's guided chemotherapy is a chemical therapy promoted as an alternative cancer treatment. The therapy varies for every patient but can include a chemical formula made of varying amounts of lipid alcohols, caffeine, zinc, lithium, and iron or a formula that contains fatty acids, selenium, magnesium, and sulfur. Despite its name, Revici's guided chemotherapy is entirely different from mainstream chemotherapy or the new targeted therapies that are an increasingly important part of standard cancer treatment.

Overview

Available scientific evidence does not support claims that Revici's guided chemotherapy is effective in treating cancer or any other disease. It may also cause potentially serious side effects.

How is it promoted for use?

Revici's guided chemotherapy is promoted for the treatment of various types of cancer, including colon, bone, lung, and brain cancer, as well as heart disease, arthritis, AIDS, chronic pain, drug addiction, injury from radiation, and schizophrenia. Emanuel Revici, MD, the inventor of the therapy, claimed that even advanced cancer could be treated with his method.

The therapy is based on the theory that cancer and other diseases result from an imbalance of lipids (fats or fat-like substances) in the body that is thought to cause abnormal metabolism. Revici believed that the imbalance led to diseases that could be classified as either "anabolic" (meaning constructive) or "catabolic" (meaning destructive). The type of imbalance was determined mainly by looking a patient's urine, and from that determination, a lipid-based remedy could be designed to restore the proper balance.

What does it involve?

Revici's therapy uses urine and blood tests to detect lipid imbalances. A chemical formula of lipids and lipid-based substances is then developed that is unique to each patient. The substances may include alcohols (such as glycerol, butanol, and octanol), sterols (such as cholesterol and steroid hormones), compounds containing certain elements (iodine, mercury, lithium, selenium, zinc, iron), nicotinic acid derivatives, and other substances.

Revici's guided chemotherapy is given by mouth or injection in dosages tailored to each patient. After the first treatment, patients are taught to test their urine at home and monitor the lipid imbalance. If there are changes, the patient is given a new formula. This therapy is available at a few clinics started by Revici associates.

What is the history behind it?

According to a 1989 review article in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, Emanuel Revici was born in Romania in 1896 and received a medical degree from the University of Bucharest in 1920. After graduation, he taught internal medicine and practiced in Bucharest. In the 1920s, he began research into lipids and cellular metabolism. From 1935 to 1941, he conducted clinical research and practiced medicine in Paris, and from 1941 to 1946 in Mexico City. He began experimenting with a variety of drugs and compounds to treat cancer in 1941.

In 1947, he moved to Brooklyn, New York, and started the Institute of Applied Biology to conduct research into cancer and other diseases. In 1955, he moved the Institute to Manhattan along with his medical practice. According to the information in the CA article, New York State has challenged Revici's medical license on a number of occasions since 1983. In 1984, the Board of Regents restricted his medical practice, and tightened the restrictions 4 years later, when they found him guilty of professional misconduct. Stephen Barrett and Victor Herbert, who investigate medical fraud, report that Revici's license was revoked in 1993.

Revici died in 1998 at the age of 101, but his therapy is still offered by some of his associates in New York City.

What is the evidence?

Most of the cases Revici treated were not well documented. In his 1961 book, Revici listed a large number of case histories of patients whose tumors he claimed had shrunk or disappeared completely. Some of his patients also testified at a congressional hearing in New York that Revici's treatment caused their cancer to go into remission.

The only published clinical study of Revici's guided chemotherapy appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1965. It was done by a group of 9 doctors known as the Clinical Appraisal Group. They studied 33 cancer patients referred to Revici for treatment after conventional treatment failed. Twenty-two of the patients died of cancer while on Revici's therapy, 8 showed no improvement, and the remaining 3 showed signs of cancer growth. The group concluded that Revici's method was without value. Revici countered that the original protocol he had agreed to had not been followed.

Studies of Revici's chemotherapy are hampered by the fact that each formula is different. According to the 1989 CA review article, a number of scientists who have offered to evaluate his methods were not able to reach agreement with Revici about a study protocol. The same article reports that, in 1945, a group of American doctors studied Revici's treatment methods in Mexico and found no positive evidence to support their value in treating cancer. In 1988, the American Cancer Society requested that Revici provide documentation of his work, but never received a reply.

Are there any possible problems or complications?

These substances may have not been thoroughly tested to find out how they interact with medicines, foods, or dietary supplements. Even though some reports of interactions and harmful effects may be published, full studies of interactions and effects are not often available. Because of these limitations, any information on ill effects and interactions below should be considered incomplete.

Revici's guided chemotherapy for cancer has never been proven to be safe or effective. Revici himself said that his treatment might cause the area around a cancerous tumor to become inflamed and the tumor itself to grow larger and more painful before it shrank or disappeared. Selenium compounds, which are sometimes used in this therapy, can be toxic at high doses (see also Selenium).

This treatment should be avoided by women who are pregnant or breast-feeding. Relying on this type of treatment alone and avoiding or delaying conventional medical care for cancer, may have serious health consequences.

Additional resources

More information from your American Cancer Society

The following information on complementary and alternative therapies may also be helpful to you. These materials may be found on our Web site (www.cancer.org) or ordered from our toll-free number (1-800-ACS-2345).

Dietary Supplements: What Is Safe?

The ACS Operational Statement on Complementary and Alternative Methods of Cancer Management

Complementary and Alternative Methods and Cancer

Placebo Effect

Learning About New Ways to Treat Cancer

Learning About New Ways to Prevent Cancer

References

Alternative Medicine: Expanding Medical Horizons. A Report to the National Institutes of Health on Alternative Medical Systems and Practices in the United States. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office; 1994. NIH publication 94-066.

American Cancer Society. Unproven methods of cancer management: Revici method. CA Cancer J Clin. 1989;39:119-122.

Lyall D, Schwartz M, Herter FP, et al. Treatment of cancer by the method of Revici. JAMA. 1965;194:279-280.

Barrett S, Herbert V. Questionable cancer therapies. Accessed at: http://www.quackwatch.org/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/cancer.html on June 11, 2008.

Revici E. Research in Physiopathology as a Basis of Guided Chemotherapy with Special Application to Cancer. Princeton, NJ: D Van Nostrand, Inc: 1961.

University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. Revici Guided Chemotherapy: Detailed Scientific Review. 2007. Accessed at:

www.mdanderson.org/departments/cimer/display.cfm?id=DDB1CCA0-1711-11D5-811000508B603A14&method=displayFull&pn=6EB86A59-EBD9-11D4-810100508B603A14 on June 11, 2008.

US Congress, Office of Technology Assessment. Unconventional Cancer Treatments. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office; 1990. Publication OTA-H-405.

Note: This information may not cover all possible claims, uses, actions, precautions, side effects or interactions. It is not intended as medical advice, and should not be relied upon as a substitute for consultation with your doctor, who is familiar with your medical situation.

Last Medical Review: 11/01/2008
Last Revised: 11/01/2008