Specific Systems of Treatment
Reporters sent reports to newspapers all over America, describing the remarkable improvement of some of the patients. Pain decreased, health seemed to generally improve, and cancers were disappearing. Records and comments by patients and staff were printed.
There was a rising ovation for Dr. Coffey, from over 1,200 California physicians at their 1930 con- vention. Besieged by cancer victims, Coffey an- nounced in the press that he would only accept those whose cases had been diagnosed, through approved laboratory procedures, as malignant by a physician, and then referred to him—along with a letter that the case could not be helped further by surgery or radiation.
That was a wise move, since it provided docu- mentation for the genuineness of each case, and did not conflict with the ongoing, brisk activity in surgery and radiation. He would only accept in- operable cases.
In addition, those accepted for treatment had to agree in advance in writing to an autopsy re- port, if they died during treatment.
Everything seemed to be doing well, but then Morris Fishbein, editor of the Journal of the AMA, heard about Coffey’s activities. He wrote:
“Pathologists and surgeons who have inves- tigated the method express nothing but pro- found disappointment with both the clinical and pathological results. These experts indicate that post-mortem examinations which have been made in at least 30 cases do not reveal any defi- nite specific destruction of cancer tissue or evi- dence that the spread of cancer in the bodies of the afflicted patients has been retarded.”
In view of Coffey’s very thorough method of case documentation, it is remarkable that Fishbein would dare oppose him publicly in the pages of the Journal. At their next annual meeting, mem- bers of the California State Medical Society issued a public criticism of Fishbein for his “unethical and unscientific” remarks. As for Coffey, he had some remarks to make also: “It appears highly unjust and unethical if Dr. Fishbein has employed pathologists working in secret. Such investigations could have been car- ried on openly at any of our clinics with our utmost cooperation. Secret investigations such as he implies remind one of the secret tribu- nals of medieval days when the accused was tried and sentenced without opportunity to de- fend himself at open trial.”
Patients by the thousands flocked to the Coffey- Humber Cancer Clinic in San Francisco, to receive the Coffey-Humber extract, as it came to be known.
A branch was opened in Los Angeles; and, in 1931, a wealthy widow of a railroad magnate, liv- ing on Long Island, offered to give her mansion as a third clinic in the chain. This would open the entire East Coast to the new anti-cancer method.
This resulted in a storm of opposition and pro- tests. On one side were the common masses, plus wealthy patrons and fabulously rich railroad ex- ecutives who sided with “their boys.” On the other was the New York City Welfare Board that, for some mysterious reason, saw fit to deny the people of New York the opportunity to obtain help.
The application was denied. Later that same year (1931), Dr. Rowland H. Harris reported in the Journal of the AMA that he had investigated the extract and found it to be worthless, and even harmful. He said that, in some instances, it accel- erated the growth of tumors.
Fired with anger, Dr. R.W. Starr, director of the Los Angeles Coffey-Humber Cancer Clinic, de- clared that Harris was giving a false report.
The anger and accusations continued. Dr. Balfour, a Mayo Clinic surgeon, was quoted by Time magazine as saying that “cancer is curable if [surgically] removed while it is a local disease. Cures by advertised serums, extracts, etc., are myths.”
Shortly afterward, Dr. Garland, a radiologist, stated that he was well-acquainted with the ex- tract, that it relieved no pain, and he had seen the patients “die like flies.”
In March 1936, Coffey and Humber published their results, to date: 7,513 presumably hopeless cancer patients. Of these, 3,872 died before they could receive 30 injections (the minimum needed for a fair test). Of the 3,641 which received the full treatments, 1,040 recovered from cancer, which is about one-fourth. Of these, about 10% lived four or more years.
(It should again be noted here that the Coffey- Humber treatment neither included nor required any changes in diet or lifestyle. Without such changes, serums, extracts, etc., outstanding, long- term results could not be produced.)
In his report, Coffey also noted a statement by a well-known pathologist, Ewing, who said that not 5% of cancer patients recovered after receiv- ing surgery or radiation.
The contenders were identified, and the battle was joined. Thoughtful students of medical his- tory could recognize the final outcome.
In 1944, Dr. Coffey died. In later years, Dr. Humber decided to stop using the extract.
Oddly enough, the method never received any kind of scientific investigation by its opponents.