This treatment modality is used in place of conventional therapies to treat cancer. Seek advice from a qualified physician before replacing standard cancer therapy with Coley toxin therapy.
What does Coley toxin therapy involve?
Coley toxins were developed by William B. Coley, MD, in 1890 and fall within the realm of immunotherapy. According to available historical background literature, after reviewing one hundred cases of sarcoma treated in his hospital, Dr. Coley noted that patients who developed infections fared better than those who did not. Dr. Coley mixed toxins of the streptococcus and bacillus prodigious bacteria and administered them to patients. Regressions of cancer were noted by Dr. Coley, but the treatment fell out of disuse with the advent of chemotherapy. Currently Coley toxins are administered intravenously and now include exotoxins, enzymes, proteins and endotoxin from both S. pyogenes and S. marcescens. The combined toxins are only legal in the U.S. if prepared and administered in a physician's office.
How are Coley toxins thought to treat cancer?
Coley toxins are designed to stimulate the immune system to better fight existing malignant cells and enhance survival.
What has been proven about the benefit of Coley toxins?
The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center conducted an extensive human studies literature review and found thirty studies applicable to cancer. Used in conjunction with chemotherapy, radiation and surgery, Coley toxins appear to have a greater response than when used alone. Mechanisms of antitumor effects are reported to include the induction of interferon, augmentation of natural killer cell activity, stimulation of lymphoid tissues, activation of macrophages, induction of serum factors that cause necrosis of tumors and increased release of IL-2.
What is the potential risk or harm of Coley toxin therapy?
Side effects to Coley toxins include fever and nausea and, less commonly, headache, back pain, chills, angina and shock-like reactions. Overwhelming the immune system with Coley toxins might cause a serious infection.
How much does Coley toxin therapy cost?
An adaptation of Coley toxins is administered to patients at the Waisbren Clinic in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Dose schedules and costs vary with individual patients, but recently one injection of mixed bacterial vaccine cost $75. The cost per year is between $3,000 and $8,000.
For additional information:
The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
1515 Holcombe Boulevard
Houston, TX 77030
Telephone: (800) 392-1611
Web site: www.mdanderson.org/departments/CIMER/
Web site: www.waisbrenclinic.com/
Note: Information about therapies is intended to help you make informed choices, not to endorse any particular therapy. The information is courtesy of "Integrating Complementary and Alternative Therapies for Cancer Patients," a handbook written as an independent study project by Heather Morein. For more information, see the full text of the handbook (PDF), including all references and appendices.