A Cure for Cancer?
The doctor many believe can cure cancer
9 August 2004
Reporter: Ray Martin
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Over a period of 30 years, highly qualified Perth-based surgeon Dr John Holt has had some startling successes with a radio-wave therapy treatment for cancer patients.
However, this radical treatment has polarised the medical community in Australia. His supporters say he's been vilified, while his detractors point out there is no scientific basis for his claims.
Elvina Johnson had a lot of living to do when she was told she had an aggressive form of bone cancer. At 18, doctors discovered she had a "galaxy of tumours". She lost her leg and underwent intensive chemo treatment to try and stop it spreading. Her cancer was so severe that she relapsed soon after.
"It was through both of my lungs and by that stage it was pretty terminal," she told Ray Martin.
Elvina was desperate. Quite by chance she heard about a cancer specialist with a highly controversial procedure.
"By taking the chance and finding this man, I am here six years later and probably feeling better than ever, so I have had a rebirth," she said.
Dr Holt's controversial treatment works, in layperson's terms, by giving the patient an injection of a glucose-blocking agent. He then shines "radio waves" into the body at a specific frequency. Dr Holt doesn't guarantee it will cure every cancer, but it's not expensive and there's no quackery about it.
Born in Bristol 80 years ago and a member of the Royal Colleges, Dr Holt has 26 medical letters after his name. For more than a decade he was in charge of Western Australia's main cancer institute, until the late '70s, when he was blacklisted by his medical colleagues and politicians.
"The doctors took up such an action initially, they said the treatment was fake and useless," said former WA Premier John Tonkin. But Tonkin added, "There is no doubt whatsoever in my mind that this is the most advanced form of cancer treatment in the world today."
The polarisation of the medical and scientific community in Perth over Dr Holt's treatment has been evident since the mid-'70s.
"It is an unproven form of cancer treatment and it's not part of the armoury of orthodox ways of treating cancer in Australia," said Clive Deverill, the former boss of WA's Cancer Council. "Equally, there are legions of patients who have been down that track who can't say anything about their position because they're dead."
While the medical community continues to argue the merits of Dr Holt's unorthodox measures, the families of his successes feel they owe everything to this gentle man.
After two brain tumours and a tumour on her spine, Sophia Rosa was sent by pre-eminent brain surgeon Dr Charlie Teo for the radical treatment. Two years later, the only sign Sophia had cancer are the side-effects from the massive doses of chemotherapy given in Sydney.
"Sometimes I think maybe Sophia's reason for getting sick was so people would know about Doctor Holt," said Louisa Raso, Sophia's mum.
* Dr John Holt (08) 9322 3544
* Dr John Holt support group
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