Intended for healthcare professionals


Relatives warn of dangers of alternative treatments for cancer in BBC documentary

BMJ 2020; 370 doi: (Published 16 July 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;370:m2862
  1. Clare Dyer
  1. The BMJ

Families of people who died from cancer but who might have survived had they not turned to alternative therapies have warned of the risks of shunning conventional treatments in a new BBC documentary.1

Lorna Halliday, a senior research scientist at Cambridge University, said that her mother Linda was wary of conventional medicine and concealed her breast cancer diagnosis from her daughters. She had been given “really good” survival odds if treated by a mastectomy followed by chemotherapy and radiotherapy. But she rejected NHS treatment and instead was given questionable remedies such as mistletoe injections from a range of alternative practitioners. Treated by a herbalist with the caustic ointment black salve, she died in 2014 of septicaemia after her cancer became an ulcerating tumour.

In an emotional posting on Twitter in April, after US president Donald Trump suggested trying bleach as a treatment …

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