The Burzynski Therapy
for Cancer


Stanislaw Burzynski M.D. Ph.D. has a clinic in Houston Texas where he treats various kinds of cancer. Although he has employed this therapy with patients since 1976, his treatment is still not FDA approved and is therefore only available to those patients who meet rigid FDA criteria.

We Encourage You to Do Your Own Research

The information in this document is intended to share our experience and convey our knowledge of this innovative treatment. However, we encourage parents with children with brain tumors to do their own research. The address for the Burzynski website is In addition, the Burzynski Patient Group website provides case histories of children who are doing well on his therapy. If you're interested in this therapy, we encourage you to contact Dr. Burzynski directly.

Our Experience

On August 10th, 1998 our only child, Alexander, was diagnosed with the most common pediatric brain cancer, medulloblastoma. He was two years old. Our lives were shattered. The next six months became a race against time to try to understand the disease, find the appropriate treatment, and save Alexander.

After two brain operations, we wanted to give our son the most effective non-toxic cancer therapy possible. After weeks of research, many conversations with parents who had children with brain cancer, and conversations with doctors from all over the world, we selected the Burzynski Clinic. We arrived there on September 21, 1998 and incredibly we were turned away. Dr. Burzynski said he was not allowed to accept Alexander. I will never forget it. We sat in an examining room. Alexander was smiling at the doctor.

"Why can't you take Alexander?" I asked Burzynski.

"I am sorry Mrs. Horwin, but the FDA dictates who I can and can't accept," Burzynski said in a heavy Polish accent.

Burzynski explained to us that the FDA would only allow him to accept children who had suffered through chemotherapy and/or radiation and still had "measurable tumor" left in their brains. Alexander hadn't had either of these "world class treatments" but already endured two brain operations (16 hours of surgery in total) and was tumor free for the moment. He had paid a dear price to be tumor free. His optic nerves had been injured so that his big brown eyes were stuck pointing in opposite directions, he lost the ability to cry and laugh and he temporarily lost the ability to walk.

"Please accept my son. He's only two years old. His whole life is in front of him. I know your treatment works. I've spoken to several parents whose children are here. They had malignant brain tumors like Alexander but now they're alive and well. You have to treat my son," I begged.

Dr. Burzynski said simply, "I am sorry but I can't." Burzynski was saddened but he was powerless. The FDA had made him turn away many children just like Alexander.

Chemotherapy was started soon after and Alexander died in my arms three months later.

Why the Therapy Works

Burzynski's therapy is neither a silver bullet nor a cure-all but it has been successful in the treatment of some patients, especially children, with primary brain tumors. (Primary brain tumors are those cancers that originate in the brain.) In addition, it is dramatically less toxic than chemotherapy. Burzynski has not saved every child that has come to him for treatment. One reason for this is that the FDA requires that children first be treated with chemotherapy and/or radiation and have the cancer return before they can qualify for therapy. Then it is nearly impossible to save these children because their immune systems are destroyed and the cancer that returns is usually more aggressive than the original one the child was diagnosed with.

Orthodox oncologists are adamantly opposed to Burzynski therapy and they react strongly and emotionally when his name is mentioned. Why are the oncologists up in arms? One reason is that if Burzynski has a better and safer treatment for pediatric brain tumors then these oncologists could be out of business. Why would anyone choose a less effective and more toxic treatment over one that offers a better chance of survival and a higher quality of life? Another reason is that Burzynski's approach represents something new and strange to oncologists — something they were not taught in medical school.

The greatest testaments to Burzynski's therapy are the children with brain tumors who are alive because of his treatment. There are children who had some of the most malignant brain tumors — brain stem gliomas, anaplastic astrocytomas, glioblastomas, and medulloblastomas. (To see these children, please see the Burzynski website at

Another testament to the sound scientific basis of his therapy is the fact that some of the constituent ingredients (i.e. phenylbutyrate, phenylacetate) used in his treatment can be found in nearly every cancer laboratory and pathology department in this country. These labs all have various forms of "differentiating agents" that they keep on their shelves. These agents are added to cancer cells in vitro (e.g. in a test tube) to help the pathologist or researcher determine what kind of cancer cell they are working with.

Cancer cells are generally cells that are more primitive and have not yet "grown up" to become fully functioning normal body cells. This process of growing up is called "differentiation" because the primitive cancer cell "differentiates" or "grows up" into a mature cell. Many years ago, biochemists discovered that there are substances that can be added to cancer cells to make them differentiate. These substances are primarily peptides and hormones (natural chemicals found in the human body). Examples include butyric acid, thyroid hormone, and phenylbutyrate. Using a microscope, researchers take cancer cells, add a small amount of differentiating agent, and watch as the primitive cell matures — brain cancer cells metamorphosize into brain cells, liver cancer cells turn into liver cells, breast cancer cells turn into breast cells, etc. This scientific process is well known and is a useful tool for scientists who want to pinpoint the cell type of a particular cancer. After the cancer cells differentiate they soon die because unlike cancer cells, normal cells are not immortal. As a biochemist, Burzynski was aware of this phenomenon and the use of this common laboratory tool. He began to wonder if these peptides would do the same job in vivo (in the human body) that they do in vitro (in the test tube).

At Baylor University in Houston, Texas, Burzynski tested the blood and urine of cancer patients and healthy patients and found that healthy human beings carry these differentiating peptides in minute but steady and predictable amounts. However, cancer patients often had none of these peptides. Burzynski asked the logical question — what would happen if a person with cancer were given these peptides? Would the peptides differentiate and cause the cancer cells in the patient's body to die the same way they differentiate and cause the cancers cells to die in test tubes across America? Burzynski began his studies in terminal patients and found that indeed the theory worked.

According to the book The Burzynski Breakthrough by Thomas D. Elias (ISBN 1-57544-018-0), Burzynski's first two cancer patients were Emma Avadassian and Billy Bryant. Both were treated in 1976. Emma was 55 years old and had renal (kidney) cancer. She had already undergone chemotherapy and radiation and had been sent home to die. Emma would pass away in 1977. An autopsy would reveal that she died from a kidney infection, not cancer. Billy was thirteen years old and had bone cancer. He had undergone months of chemo but the cancer had returned and spread. Oncologists at the University of Florida at Gainesville predicted that he would not live long enough to reach Burzynski. However, after starting Burzynski's treatment, Billy's cancer began to recede. When he stopped the treatment in mid-1977 the cancer returned. Oncologists insisted on restarting chemo warning Billy's family that Burzynski's therapy was unproven. The family agreed to put the child back on chemo and he died later that year. A third patient, Robert Steed, a Wichita Falls businessman was diagnosed with bladder cancer. He did not want to be treated with chemo or radiation and instead started on the Burzynski therapy. He lived normally until he died 10 years later of a heart attack at the age of 65.

The Burdick Report

Over the next 24 years, Dr. Burzynski has treated many patients. Robert E. Burdick, MD, a Seattle oncologist and faculty member of the University of Washington Medical School analyzed the results of some of these patients. Although he refuses to speak about the Burzynski therapy today, in 1997 he wrote:

"It is very rare, currently, to ever get a complete remission or cure in a patient who has a malignant brain tumor, using our standard modalities of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy…As a rough estimate, neurosurgeons do well to cure one in every 1,000 brain-cancer patients they operate on. Radiation therapy slows the growth of adult tumors, gaining perhaps one month of life, and again may result in a cure in only one in 500-1,000 patients…Similarly chemotherapy research, despite 30 years of clinical trials, has not resulted in the development of a single drug or drug combination that elicits more than an occasional transient response in primary brain tumors…The responses (with Burzynski's treatment) are far in excess of any prior series of patients published in the medical literature…a response rate here is an astounding 81%, with an equally astounding 35% complete remission rate. Such remission rates are far in excess of anything I or anyone else has seen since research work on brain tumors began."

The entire Burdick report can be seen at

Why the FDA Doesn't Allow Children Access to This Therapy

Burzynski's therapy is non-poisonous to the body and, as a biological agent and not a cytotoxic (cell-killing) agent, it represents a more sophisticated approach to cancer than either chemotherapy or radiation - the two post-surgical orthodox treatments offered by conventional medicine. However, because of the FDA, Burzynski has to turn away many terminal children like Alexander who come to him for help. Why is that? One possibility is that if Burzynski could accept Alexander and children like him who have not been pre-treated with chemo and radiation and who are currently tumor-free, then his cure rate would surely increase. According to oncologists, after a child with a malignant brain tumor has been injected with chemo and/or exposed to radiation the tumor returns with a vengeance and then nothing short of a miracle will save that child. When Alexander's cancer returned while he was on chemotherapy, his single tumor turned into 30 tumors that covered his brain and spine and he died within two weeks.

In other words, by only allowing Burzynski to treat children whose cancers have returned and spread, the FDA has cleverly and significantly decreased Burzynski's success rate. Why would the FDA want to do such a thing? Why would the FDA cost children their lives?

One of the reasons may be the inherent conflict of interest that exists within the FDA. For example, the FDA bureaucrat who said "no" to Alexander in 1998 was Dr. Robert DeLap. DeLap came from two large drug companies. The bureaucrat who has replaced him, Dr. Richard Pazdur, comes from one of the largest cancer hospitals in America - MD Anderson in Texas. MD Anderson has millions of dollars invested in treating patients with chemo and radiation. Recently, Pazdur told the parents of four-year old Thomas Navarro, a child diagnosed with exactly the same brain tumor as Alexander, that Burzynski cannot treat the boy. You can see Thomas Navarro website at

As a revenue producer, cancer is one of the largest industries in this country. (Multiply the number of victims per year, which is well over one million, by the average cost of treatment — tens and more often hundreds of thousands of dollars.) From a simply economic standpoint, Burzynski's therapy is a better product — it is not toxic to the body and it is probably a more effective treatment against cancer. But every year, chemotherapy and radiation gross tens of billions of dollars for the drug companies and the medical establishment. If Dr. Burzynski's treatment was accessible, consider the market share it would take from chemo and radiation. It would cost the drug companies, the cancer hospitals and the oncologists astounding amounts of income.


Burzynski's therapy is not a magic bullet and it certainly does not succeed in every patient. However, it has extended or saved the lives of many patients, many of them children with brain cancer. If you are a parent of a child with a brain tumor we encourage you to do your own research and come to your own conclusion regarding this innovative therapy. Consider visiting the clinic. Talk to the patients and their families, the nurses and doctors. The book The Burzynski Breakthrough is another source of information. Remember if your child has a "terminal" disease this means that orthodox medicine has labeled your child as one who will probably die despite their best efforts. In such a situation in makes sense to do your own research and come to your own conclusion about other options that may give your child a fighting chance. Be aware, however, that if you choose this therapy, the FDA may not allow your child to have access to it and the oncologists may want to use legal means if parents refuse to subject their children to the standard of care — chemotherapy and/or radiation..



© Raphaele and Michael Horwin, 1999 - 2002