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Tuesday, 3 July, 2007

DCA users don't want docs' help

My about two Toronto physicians who've begun prescribing cancer patients dichloroacetate (DCA) -- a neurotoxic drug that's untested for either safety or efficacy -- has some members of the discussion forum at (sister site of a site where cancer patients can buy DCA to self-medicate) .

Says one commenter, writing under the name "Steven":

"It's kind of foolish that these ‘experts; Dr.'s’ [sic] poke their noses into everything. I mean, it's your life and you are an adult so you can do what you want. Be it experimenting with dichloroacetate or anything else."
But when I spoke with Dr Akbar Khan, the medical director of the Toronto clinic in the article and one of the two doctors who is prescribing DCA (the other is his wife, Humaira Khan), he told me physician supervision is of the utmost importance to him. Here's an excerpt of the transcript:
NRM: Do you worry that people out there are trying DCA on their own?
Dr Akbar Khan: The concern is that patients are having side effects and not reporting it, and the drug is not stopped. I don’t recommend anybody take it without a doctor’s supervision, at least a family doctor to monitor it and do some tests. We do weekly blood tests, very comprehensive looks at organ function, kidneys, salt balance in bloodstream, and we are looking for improvement on those tests... The availability is not what worries me, I think it should be available. But it’s patients who use it on their own, without doctor supervision, that worry me.
NRM: Have you seen patients who’ve tried self-treatment?
AK: Yes, I saw one patient with lung cancer who had purchased it on the internet and tried it on his own. He had developed side effects -- vomiting and heartburn. We learned the patient was taking it in powder form, mixed into water. But that is not right way to take it. It is very acidic and it can cause burning in the mouth and throat and cause nausea and vomiting. We advised him the correct way of taking it in capsule form.


  1. Find out more about dca at

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