The People's Perspective on Medicine

780 Cancer and the Immune System (Archive)

Tune in to our radio show on your local public radio station, or sign up for the podcast and listen at your leisure. Here’s what it’s about:

More than 100 years ago, a New York surgeon named William Coley developed an unusual cancer treatment that produced a high fever in his patients. Although the treatment was unconventional, it turned out to be successful surprisingly often. Should Coley’s treatment be revived today? How else might we jump-start the immune system? Find out about the hope for vaccine treatments for cancer, as well as the status of Coley’s fluid. This is the second in a three-part series on unconventional approaches to cancer.

Guests: Don MacAdam, CEO of MBVax Bioscience in Ancaster, Ontario, Canada. Online at

Jonathan Serody, MD, Elizabeth Thomas Professor of Medicine, Microbiology and Immunology in the Program in Stem Cell Transplantation. He is Director of the LCCC Program in Malignant Hematology and Co-leader of the LCCC Immunology Program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The photo is of Dr. Serody.

The podcast of this program will be available the Monday after the broadcast date. Podcasts can be downloaded for free for six weeks after the date of broadcast. After that time has passed, digital downloads are available for $2.99. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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After listening to Dr. Polly Matzinger’s “Danger” theory, I was wondering if you know of any treatments or therapies to prevent flares of autoimmune disease are being researched that are based in this theory. I have a mixed connective tissue disorder that mostly shows up as flares of RA like symptoms in my finger and toe joints, as well as cutaneous eruptions in those same areas. Thanks!

Hi Barb,
I think you are so right. Actually, it is the double whammy of declining nutrition and increasing toxicity that is the driving force behind most modern illness. Modern medicine often contributes to the toxicity.

Redox signaling molecules have been researched for 17 years. We lose 10% a year. These molecules are a natural antioxidant booster that exist in cells- glutathione and superoxide dismutase – as well repairing and replacing cells. Prevention and healing at the cellular level! The product is already out there. PL

Wow! That was a most interesting, thought provoking interview. I had breast cancer 20 yrs. ago-was told it was the beginning stages as only scattered cells were found. Had 18 lymph nodes removed & none were involved. I was scheduled to start radiation right away after surgery, but couldn’t because I developed a fever & had infection & it wasn’t until 6 wks. after surgery that I did 35 radiation treatments.
Could that infection & fever have been a good thing? Sure makes me wonder. The docs tried me on tamoxofin, but I was allergic to it & they stopped that treatment. I have taken turmeric for arthritis, along with Pau’d arco & grapes seed extract for 17 years & to date have had no recurrence.
Breast cancers are on both sides of my family & I am going to see the gene counselors in our area. I found this to be a fascinating interview & full of excellent info & it also underscores how the FDA wants their finger in the pie & the medical profession is so slow to pick up on something good & helpful: ie. (My surgeon knew this Dr. & I have read this in print) there was a Dr. in South America who found he could detect breast tumors through x-ray inn 1937 he traveled around the world trying to get the medical field to pick up on the idea & it was greeted with a thumbs down approval. It wasn’t until the late 60’s-early 70’s that mammograms became the norm for women.
My surgeon said he felt very sad about this as so many women’s lives were lost unnecessarily. I’m most thankful for the mammograms & get annoyed when I hear all the stuff how is shouldn’t be done till a certain age. It needs to be done. Thanks!

To think the medical establishment would suppress simple treatments at the expense of patient lives for the purpose of making money is cynical. Prove the case before making the charge, please.

Has Coley’s Toxin shown any efficacy against brain tumours such as GBM? A close friend was diagnosed with inoperable stage IV last June, given 6 weeks with no treatment, 50:50 to Christmas with treatment and 1 in a 100 to make it a year. He is still with us! The tumour growth has been checked by radiation (completed) and chemo (in progress). Steroids are still required to control edema as the mass is still insinuated into the brain tissue. I would like to give him some additional hope, or at least some information to discuss with his oncologist.
PEOPLE’S PHARMACY RESPONSE: We doubt it has been tested, but we urge you to contact Mr. MacAdam at


I clicked the link and it was very inspirational … a great airport interview with a woman who had to take treatment outside the us border and FINALLY got healed of her cancer with gerson and coley . great link!

My 45 year old wife was diagnosed with metastatic melanoma in January 2010. To make a long story short, we have exhausted all conventionally acceptable treatments. Likewise, the mistakes and oversights made in her treatment over the last year are numerous. However, the point to be made is: I have learned many years ago that money can be a huge motivational factor for people, business or government.
This Coley’s Treatment is not “quackery”. Its both proven and been around for 100 + years! And, this should be offered, in the very least, to the terminally ill cancer patient. What irks me the most is that we live in Canada and the Coley’s Fluid is also manufactured here. Yet Canada Health itself ignores the science and refuses to offer this treatment.
It is suggested that money is needed to help move this forward. Why not think outside the box? Why not motivate the government to move forward with this treatment by hitting them where it hurts…?…lets take away some of their money, or better yet, a lot of their money. If every “terminally ill” cancer patient (or surviving family member) invested (lets say) $100.00, and we pooled this money together, we could easily find a solid reputable law firm that, in my opinion, would gladly start up a Class Action Law Suite against the government for withholding proven medical treatment options for the terminally ill.
It worked for the Residential Native School issue, amongst many other class actions. Who knows, maybe we could even hire the same law firm? If the government doesn’t want to listen to science and logic, then lets make them listen to their money disappearing! It is time to fight back – it is time to quit complaining and start doing something about it.
I am sick an tired of watching the Canadian Heath Care system treat the terminally ill without care. We need to bring back the “care” into Health”care”. Lets use the age old motivation: Money – or the lack thereof!
Anyone interested in this idea?

that link did not pan out–no discussion of Coley’s or a recipe. Did you get it wrong?

Sorry, not the same James I. I have never been to Canada. But would love it if you could answer the questions about the blood tests, etc. Also how long were you on the Coley’s? Thank you!

James I believe we have met at the Meeting with the Ministry of Health of Ontario? I believe you have an interest in this as per how and what you wrote?

Here is a youtube of a patient who used Coley’s!

First you say you went to Germany then you say you went to the Bahamas. Where were you treated with Coley’s. What blood tests did they use to determine the dose? I have not seen anything in the historical literature from Dr. Coley about using a blood test to determine the dose, rather the dose was based on the febrile response. Ongoing blood tests are recommended to monitor things such as hemaglobin. Perhaps since you had Crohn’s disease as well as cancer they were checking your blood closely to make sure you weren’t bleeding. How long did you use Coley’s before you determined that your cancer was gone?
As far as Don MacAdam the Canadian and his team not ever witnessing the actual treatment, what difference does that make? He is the manufacturer of the best Coley’s fluid ever made and thanks to HIM and his TEAM, people like yourself are able to go to a doctor like you found to give you this life saving treatment.
It is good to hear that you had such a great response with Coley’s and it sounds like perhaps it even helped your Crohn’s disease as well.

Allen, I am interested in cking Coley’s but having a hard time finding who and where. Can you tell me about that in Germany and the Bahamas?

First of all, Thank you Peoples Pharmacy for providing us with medical information that is rarely provided by physicians. And Thanks to Don McAdam and his company for agreeing to come forth with their latest research findings so we, the citizens and families of cancer victims, can be more informed.
I am so impressed with the discussion regarding treating cancer with Coley’s Toxic. It’s not too difficult to understand why the FDA has refused to approve its’ availability here in the U.S. It all boils down to the pharmaceutical companys, doctors who are not actively supporting the research and insisting on getting approval, and companys that manufacture equipment for administering chemotherapy and radiation, and our own government, working together for their own profit and greed.
Especially the National Cancer Foundation that brings in billions of dollars and yet no-one in the organization has knowledge of this research???? I find it hard to believe. We citizens need to take control and speak out. NOW.

My Story in short… I am an American who at age 30 was diagnosed with a squamous cell ca of the throat or as called a Head and Neck Cancer. After exhausting the system, I went to Germany. I wanted to live!
I met another Head and Neck patient, who directed me to contact a doctor who uses Coley’s. Coley’s treatment needs to be “custom designed” daily after your blood work is done. It is this blood work that showed the doctor what dose to use as it varied daily 6 out of 7 days. I also have Crohn’s Disease, and was told that I would have near no bowel by the time I was 40, also daily bouts of severe pain, diarrhea with blood and vomiting. I continued to work, to keep some routine in my life.
It is now a couple of years, and there is no sign of my head and neck cancer. This is also very interesting, WE do not know how or why, but my Crohn’s disease has not flared up, and also I had my first formed stool in 3 years!
Don MacAdam the Canadian may make this product, BUT he has never seen a human being injected with Coley’s nor the actual reaction(s) to it. HE is part of a TEAM, though many haven’t met one another but report via email or telephone! The bottom line there is NO VALUE ONE can place on their LIFE! And without the right PERSON doing the intricate calculations daily for the injection of Coley’s for YOUR particular cancer and YOUR particular situation, as I know as I am a testimonial for the doctor who treated me. I was told by every Oncologist I visited that I was done and go and get my “business in order.” That is why I was treated offshore in the Bahamas. I feel like a million dollars, better than ever, with both my cancer in check and even my Crohn’s Disease! I am happy to share my Success Story and Care and Treatment. Allen

Wonderful interviews – thank you.
I wonder why formal clinical trials for these treatments are not funded or explored…. so many lives are at stake. At least allow science to confirm if these treatments are valid. There are perhaps many reasons why this treatment is not taken seriously 1) If it’s too good to be true it must be – we should always question this assumption 2) There is no way to patent the treatment? 3) It runs counter to ‘in the box’ thinking 4) It cannot be that simple to cure late stage cancers 5) It’s not part of mainstream science 6) It was tried before – surely we would know by now 7) It’s dangerous …… even though the patients are set to die soon anyway!
I wish these researchers all the success in getting their clinical trials approved and appreciate The Peoples Pharmacy’s open-mindedness and sense of duty.

Two years ago my dad, 63, died of lung cancer. We were blessed in that he lived for six years after his diagnosis, and for much of that time he continued doing the things he loved — time with family, woodwork, and caring for his garden. While listening to Mr. MacAdam’s discussion of Dr. Conley’s treatment, all I could think was “Why didn’t Dad have the option of choosing this treatment.” Monitored chills and high fever — how much easier those would have been on him than the radiation that burned his esophagus, throat and tongue and ruined his enjoyment of eating Mom’s wonderful cooking and the chemo/radiation treatments combined that left him nauseous and weak for days and days.
And the cost! Dad was lucky. He had purchased cancer insurance years before it was a common practice, and it was an excellent policy. His health insurance covered most costs, but the cancer insurance paid in cash for each chemo and radiation treatment. This gave him the financial means to take care of my mother, but it also let us really see how expensive treatments were. $30,000 for one chemo treatment that lasted 45 minutes.
I agree with several of the statements above. The profits of big business and straight-out greed are the reasons this treatment isn’t allowed in the United States. I attended a lecture by Ralph Nader several years ago where he told us that there was a treatment for cancer, but it wouldn’t be approved in the United States because of the many companies and people who would be out of business. I didn’t believe him then. I do now. There has to be something we can do.

Joe or Terry – I had written a comment after show # 751 about a close friend’s experience using Coley’s Fluid, but cannot find my comment on either that show, or the latest show featuring Don MacAdam (where, perhaps, my comment more properly belongs).
It’s difficult making any recommendation to people in late stages of cancer, but having watched as Coley’s Fluid saved my partner, extending her life by over two years so far, I’m in the rare position of being able to point to something that has actually worked in our case.
I hope that my comment is found there and can be a source of confidence for some who might want life saving information that should be available through your program.
Thanks. I think your program is of a very high quality and will be recommending it, generally, to others.

Your best show(s) ever: your recent series on cancer treatment advances, specifically, the show on Coley’s Toxin. My father died of stomach cancer, and since then I’ve maintained that cancer was an immune problem. Your show’s guests confirmed my theories.
One day, we will look back on how we treat cancer with chemicals and radiation, suppressing the immune system, and say, “how barbaric.” Today’s cancer treatment is the medieval equivalent of blood-letting.
Keep up the excellent work on the cutting edge of medical advances.

EXCELLENT interview, thank you for shedding some light on this treatment. Wow! Even if we discount 50% of the “anecdotal” stats, this is an incredible;e treatment, and it should be available to ALL patients at ANY stage of their cancer journey. But let’s just start with compassionate cases – please, please please! Thank you Don MacAdam and MBVax for reviving this treatment. I find it unconscionable that the “traditional” (read: extremely expensive and damaging) treatments have full backing and financial support of our health care systems, YET relatively inexpensive and “old” treatments like Coleys are shunned by our administrators. Why? Inertia and ego, I suppose. One thing is for sure – if I ever get cancer I definitely will be chasing down Coley’s as my FIRST treatment option! I’d rather deal with a high fever than the slash-and-burn traditional treatments.
Dr. Polly Matzinger’s “Danger” theory ties in beautifully with this. She makes complete sense to a layperson like me. Thanks to “The People’s Pharmacy” for pulling this series together. I am really looking forward to Part 3!

You are right on Paul! If this turns out to be a very good cure the AMA and the drug companies will want it banned as it would put them out of business. Cancer in our country is a BIG money making business and they want to keep getting the BIG money! Please have Don MacAdam back on as a primary guest!!!!! Soon!!! Thank you!

In Germany fever therapy is available but also not paid for by insurance.
Coley’s Toxins can be made extremely cheaply, a recipe is on this blog (April 25, 2010 posting)
Read the paragraph that starts with
Another doctor, whom I’ll call Doctor Y, has added a new dimension to the treatment of cancer with Coley’s Toxins. …. self-medication and sends them home with a 20 cc bottle of Coley’s Toxins…
Surely a viable option if conditions are right.

Awesome show once again. Wish my MS would be tinkered this way.
FDA you’re horrible. Shame on you.

Bravo, Terry and Joe.
Along with your shows on vitamin D, this series on Cancer and the Immune System is at the top of my list of Most Important Shows. For those of your listeners who may have overlooked it, the bonus interview with Don MacAdam is very enlightening. I hope you will have Don MacAdam back as a primary guest, to enlighten your listeners who do not access your website.
For those of us guys who have BPH (which in my opinion is a precursor to prostate cancer) and gals with the breast cancer gene, how about Coley Fluid as a prophylactic?
To find out more about how vitamin D fits in to prevent cancer, I recommend: How Vitamin D Reduces Incidence of Cancer: DINOMIT: .
Sincerely, Russ

Coley’s is one of the best hopes for the future. It should be an option for any patient with late stage cancer. Thank you Don MacAdam for your hard work and keep it going! Let’s get these clinical trials off the ground! Everyone should hear this broadcast!

The last comment said it is a fatal mistake to ignore all the options, COLEY’S should be one of those options. It is criminal how this option has been withheld from the public.
When you are faced with cancer, especially late stages, I think a person should have the right to choose to use a therapy like this as an option. Even the “for compassionate use only” options available today in the USA are only available if you have done all the conventional use therapies FIRST. That is criminal! People wake up!
I wish EVERY one in the USA that has cancer or knows someone with cancer could hear this broadcast. To think that hundreds of thousands are dying and yet it is against the law to be able to choose to use something like Coley’s as a chance to save your life.
We can legalize marijuana but we can’t get a potential life saving vaccine legalized. We all need to get active in this WAR against CANCER! Have everyone you know listen to this broadcast! Thank you Don MacAdam for one of the most informative shows I have heard! Thank you!

As a cancer survivor that was sent home to die, I find it unbelievable and unethical that the bureaucrats in North America can stop dying patients from trying non-traditional therapies.
My personal research reveals that Coley Toxins have been treating people for years with impressive results, and when chemo and radiation failed. It is unconscionable that North Americans can not receive this life saving therapy.
Our ludite politicians need a good shake.

I have a question regarding the role that antibiotics might play in the
increase in cancers. Hearing about the Coley treatment today I looked back
on the heavy use of Antiboitics for any slight fever or threat of fever by
the medical establishment for many years. This led to the development of “super bugs” that we have today. Antibiotics and analgesics stopped fevers that our bodies created to fight viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens we came in contact with.
Could this have meant that our bodies lost the ability to fight invaders? When faced with a cancer invader our bodies do not know what to do. The Coley treatment from what I heard this morning stimulates our body to fight the cancer with fever etc. Every thing that the MD’s and the pharmacy companies prevented our body from doing in the past 50 or so years. Any thoughts on this would be welcome.

25 years ago when my mother was dying of breast cancer, my aunt (a doctor in the field of nuclear medicine) made the comment: “They are still basically treating breast cancer the same way they did 100 years ago; slash and burn. Cancer in America is big business [with big profits] they are not looking too hard for a cure.” Call me cynical, but I think she wasn’t all that wrong.
I agree with Mr. MacAdam. When traditional medicine is not working for terminal patients they should be allowed to try treatments such as Coley’s fluids. Unfortunately I doubt that will happen in the near future, as curing cancer would not be profitable enough for those who control medicine in America today.

Have found both shows of your 3-part series VERY interesting and want to share with a family member who has had cancer. Could you please make text transcripts available in addition to your audio offers? It is difficult to capture spellings of names and difficult medical and technical terminology from just listening. For instance, in my notes from the program I guessed, wrongly, the Professor’s name to be Dr. John Cerrodi.

speaking of induced fever to fight illness. My mother as I remember and myself use today to fight an infection or flu or cold or anything respiratory. The body ‘s immune system can be kick started (rebooted) to fight a wide range of infection.

Cancerous tumors often have very rudimentary, sluggish circulation systems. Blood circulates through them very slowly. Since blood circulation is the primary method used by the body to “ventilate” any tissue, including tumors, any increase in heat — by fever or by external radiation — in such tumors is often an effective way to cause the death of such tumors. As an example, the accidental introduction of measles into cancer situations deemed hopeless has, quite often, resulted in a “miracle” cures of the cancer, since measles, in an adult, causes very high temperature spikes.

If it turns out to be a cure the AMA & the DRUG companies will get it banned—too much money in cancer for the whole medical professional thieves.

Current research is also looking at heat applied directly on the affected tissue as a way to suppress cancer cells. Perhaps systemic heat could also have some effect.
But, as a cancer survivor who used both naturopathic and medical treatments and as a physiologist, I must emphasize that it could be a fatal mistake to ignore all the fabulous options modern research has developed to treat cancers.
And that’s a good thing, since the vast increase in cancer is largely the price we pay for other modern research that has given us an endless exposure to environmental toxins that severely challenge the immune system of many of us. It is my contention that without reducing the our chemical exposure most cancer research is missing the obvious best solution, closing the door after the horror has come in.

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