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One Patient's Recovery from Lymphoma

by A. Hoffer, MD, PhD

Mr. M. A.
(predicted survival 3 months)
January 1982 - M.A. complained that his memory had been fluctuating for the past two years. He had come to Canada as a refugee five years earlier having spent two years in labor camp in Chile. There he was subjected to great stress, torture and poor diet which was very low in protein and in vitamin-rich foods. While in his native country he had achieved a high rank, both as an engineer and in the government. After arriving in Canada he worked as a laborer for five years. He came to Victoria because he could not stand the cold of Canada's prairies. He was also very worried about the state of his marriage. He and his wife appeared to be incompatible and were in the midst of a separation settlement. He complained he had been depressed for two years with a lot of anxiety, sleeplessness and fatigue. I started him on niacin 3 grams daily and ascorbic acid 3 grams daily. Because of his prison experience I concluded he had developed a vitamin B-3 deficiency.

Personal History
    He prepared the following personal history: "I was very healthy and strong as a child. The only illness I had was nosebleeds. One doctor recommended vitamin K and this solved the problem. My life in Canada has been very different from that in my country, clinically as well as professionally. From being a political advisor and public service employee of the government, to being a sewage system worker in Canada. In 1973 military rule was established. I was apprehended, tortured, put in jail and condemned to 8 years in prison. I spent two years, and then with the help of the Red Cross, the Catholic Church and Amnesty International I came to this country.
"Without friends and with no knowledge of the language, life was very difficult. I needed to work with heavy equipment such as concrete drills and jackhammers. These machines are made for tall men, but as I am short, I had to hold the tools against my stomach. As a result I got the vibration of the machine in my stomach. Later on, the first cancer was discovered in the same place. For five years I suffered from terrible pain in my stomach and was hospitalized, but the doctors were of the opinion that it was the change of lifestyle, family problems and the change of food from fish and fresh vegetables to a diet of a lot of meat and canned foods.

    "When I visited my father I went with incredible pain. The medicines helped for awhile but the pain always came back. A doctor friend who had been in prison with me asked me if I was ill. He examined me and said,'You have a malignant tumor.' When I came back to Victoria I was examined and was found to have a small cell diffuse lymphocytic lymphoma."


    After two months he was still very depressed, cried a lot but was better. He had more energy and was sleeping better. He was surprised that he no longer needed his glasses which he had worn for 7 years. He told me he had increased his intake of milk over the previous month. To test him for milk allergy I had him eliminate all dairy products. He was allergic to dairy. I also added amitriptyline 25 mg and perphenazine 2 mg at bedtime. April 7th he reported he had been able to feel good for up to one week. By the end ofthe year he had gone through the stress of a divorce action, a few infections, and having started English classes, and he was generally very much better. He was still troubled by recurrent nightmares. At the end of the year he had a lesion removed from his back. There was a lot ofbleeding and he required further surgery to repair the damage.

Possible Relation Between Sex and Response to Treatment Alive
Number 2 years 4 years 5 years
Male 13 10 8 6*
Female 6 1 0 0
*Two have not yet reached the five year level.


    Early in the year he visited his elderly father. He came back suffering from severe pain inhis back. He had not taken any of the vitamins on leaving Canada. In July he went back on the program. He was depressed because he could not find work and still had abdominal pain. In June a biopsy revealed a large mass, a lymphoma. After the biopsy he was started on chemotherapy. I increased his ascorbic acid to 12 grams daily plus selenium 400 meg, vitamin E 400 iu and magnesium oxide 840 mg daily. For awhile he took 2000 micrograms of selenium.
The surgeon reported that he had a large mass in the upper central abdomen which appeared to arise from the mesentery of the small bowel, just at the lower margin of the pancreas and completely encircling the superior mesenteric artery. It was diagnosed as a small cell lymphocytic malignant lymphoma. The oncologist thought his cancer was controllable, but not curable. In July it was concluded that only palliative treatment would be offered as there was small chance of cure. He was started on chemotherapy using adriamycin, cyclophosphamide, vincristine and prednisone.
During August the intra-abdominal mass was no longer palpable. The oncologist recorded in his notes, "Unfortunately he started large doses of vitamin C and B vitamins prior to therapy and he is convinced that these are responsible for his good response rather than the chemotherapy... He would like me to sign for these so that he can get them paid for and I have refused to do so. I could not in all intellectual honesty do this when there has never been a study showing them to be any benefit."'
In October the oncologist recorded, ...referred back pain strikingly improved following institution of CHOP regimen. His appetite improved and he gained weight. He felt well except for apathy and mild muscular weakness.
    By December he had completed his sixth and last chemotherapy session. He felt well but the CT scan showed some residual disease from the previous large mass. M.A. told me that he was very ill after each chemotherapy session. He added that the doctors at the cancer clinic could not understand why he was still alive after such a serious cancer and why his hair came back so quickly. They told him that the vitamins had nothing to do with it. Psychologically he was concerned about his wife and son who were moving to Victoria and wanted me to see them both.


    By February 1984 he had received 15 sessions ofradiation. March 26th he had developed a diffuse mass in the left posterior chest wall related to the ribs. I increased his ascorbic acid to 24 g daily. He was given 15 more radiation sessions to the left posterior chest wall. The mass was not attached to the ribs. The clinic reviewed the situation May 28. The oncologist wrote, "Unfortunately he had been documented to have a recurrence ofdisease in the form ofparaspinal mass of the lower left thoracic spine causing root irritation and reticular pain radiating from the ribs to the left upper quadrant. This mass appears entirely separate from the previously existing abdominal mass which responded very well to CHOP therapy and subsequently to radiotherapy for residual disease. The pain is coming under control quite nicely after four radiotherapy treatments to the paraspinal mass. The patient appears to have a clear awareness ofthe disease and its eventual prognosis."
He was started on more chemotherapy using chlorambucil and prednisone. May 29 he had a left-sided effusion which was aspirated and was consistent with lymphoma infiltrate. In June the clinic reported he had progressive symptoms including more pain, swelling under the right mandible and a scalp nodule. He was given additional chemotherapy with CHOP and the masses resolved. He continued to receive chemotherapy In August his oncologist recorded, "I can definitely state that this man has persistent incurable malignant disease - is receiving continuous chemotherapy and to all intents and purposes should have medical disability and be considered unfit for employment."
By the end of this year he was well. He continued to see me regularly. He remained on his vitamin and mineral program. His mood was good but he was having difficulty with his wife.


    January 23rd a CT scan showed a large right pelvic mass measuring 10 cm in diameter. The superior margin was at the level oflumbar 4. There was a second smaller mass. He was given cobalt irradiation to his right lower abdomen over 24 days. He had some nausea but otherwise had few side effects. By March 11 he had recovered. By May 8 a small mass only was still present. By year's end he still was concerned about his family and he had episodes of depression.


    A.M. still saw me every month or two. There had been no recurrence of his tumor, his mood was good. His English improved dramatically and he was much more confident about the future he was building for himself. He and his wife divorced. His son was living on his own. His main concern was his son, who was having difficulty finding and holding onto work. The last examination at the cancer clinic showed he was clear. The oncologist wrote on July 10, 1989, "The patient has been on mega-vitamins, selenium and niacin, more or less ever since his diagnosis was made and as a result of his anxiety - his symptoms were indicative ofrecurrence ofhis lymphoma - he increased his vitamin C to 15 grams from 12 grams (Incidentally he had been taking 40 grams a day at one time). His general condition remains the same. He has no palpable lymphadenopathy, his chest is clear to asucultation, no abdominal masses were felt."
The last time he was seen by the clinic, September 30, 1991 he was well. The oncologist recorded, "He has no evidence oflymphadenopathy. There are no abdominal masses to be felt. I was not able to feel any evidence of any masses over his sacrum. He is taking his vitamins under Dr, Hoffer's supervision. I don't think there is any need for us to do anything for him at the present time." A CT scan found nothing abnormal. He is now taking ascorbic acid 3 grams, niacin 2 grams, selenium 50 meg, zinc citrate 50 mg and vitamin A 50,000 iu, all daily. April 1996 he was normal.
This case illustrates what can happen to a patient with severe lymphoma. From the outset he was not expected to survive very long. This is amply evident from the comments made about him by his oncologist. He was told that he would not live three months. He was also told he had one of the worst types of lymphoma, a rare type. But he did survive 14 years after he first saw me, 13 years after he was diagnosed.

    I think he recovered because of the following factors: (1) He is a tough, determined individual who has survived extreme hardship, torture, and malnutrition, and he was determined to remain alive. A few months ago he told me that when he was on the highest dose vitamin C he had continuous loose bowels and he had to sit on the toilet most ofthe time. When I asked him how he was able to cope with that he replied, 'Considering the alternative it was no problem. I sat and read.' He was a good patient in that he followed any direction given to him with dedication. (2) He was given excellent treatment by the cancer clinic including chemotherapy and radiation as needed. They only failed in not giving him any psychological support, but he got that by coming to see me regularly; (3) The megavitamin therapy of which ascorbic acid was the main and most important component.

    This is one case only, an anecdote, and is provided only to illustrate the treatment approach. I have seen 19 patients with lymphoma between March 1984 and December 1993 who were treated by the same cancer clinic, and by me, using the orthomolecular program. The outcome after five years is shown in the table which follows. Out of 13 male patients, six are alive after five years and two more will probably make it. An 80% five year cure rate is pretty good. One patient did not start the program. He lived 1.5 years. The six female lymphoma cases did not do nearly as well. Only one lived one year. The starting time was always from the date they first saw me. This is a small series and indicates a trend. I have not been able to find any factor which distinguished the two sexes. They received similar orthodox treatment and the same orthomolecular treatment.
In an earlier report with Linus Pauling, we showed that in general every group of cancer patients given megavitamin treatment lived much longer than did their comparison group who were not given the benefit of these vitamins.2

A, Hoffer, MD, PhD


1. He was unaware of the medical literature showing the usefulness of large dose vitamin C therapy. Had he said, 'I am not aware of these studies' he would have been accurate. As it was, his statement was not true.
2. Hoffer A & Pauling L: Hardin Jones Biostatistical Analysis of Mortality Data for Cohorts of Cancer Patients with a Large Fraction Surviving at the Termination of the Study and a Comparison of Survival Times of Cancer Patients Receiving Large Regular Oral Doses of Vitamin C and Other Nutrients with Similar Patients not Receiving those Doses. J Orthomolecular Medicine 5:143-154, 1990.
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