Crowd Sourced cure?

From: The Star

In a few weeks, a team of surgeons will slice open Salvatore Iaconesi’s head and attempt to remove the tumour growing inside his brain. But on the Internet, Iaconesi has already opened up his head — and his private medical records — for the world to see.

In early September, Iaconesi “hacked” his own medical information and posted his CT scans, MRI images and health records on his website La Cura.

“Anyone can give me a cure,” he wrote in an open invitation.

By publishing his medical information online, Iaconesi is crowd-sourcing a cure for his cancer. But for the 39-year-old Italian artist, hacker and engineer, the “cure” he seeks is not strictly a medical one.

“There are cures for the body, for spirit, for communication,” he wrote on his website, which went live on Sept. 10. “Grab the information about my disease, if you want, and give me a cure: create a video, an artwork, a map, a text, a poem, a game, or try to find a solution for my health problem.”

Tens of thousands have since answered Iaconesi’s call and he has received more than 600 poems, dozens of videos and countless testimonials from patients around the world. Artists have also found inspiration in Iaconesi’s brain scans and medical data, creating everything from drawings and visual performances to an online model of his tumour that can be printed using a 3-D printer.

Approximately 60 doctors from around the world — Italy, Germany, Brazil, Britain, the United States — have also been in touch, offering medical opinions, expertise and even their own services at a discount. Some are also now in conversation with each other, discussing best strategies and techniques for Iaconesi to beat his cancer.

The story seems an uplifting one as it details how one man has harnessed technology to take control of their health and to get the best advice on combating their disease.

It is however also a cautionary tale. As you can see by glancing at his website the majority of treatments or cures suggested are non-evidence based nonsense. Acupuncture, Burzynski and Laetrile all make an appearance and someone advocates ammonia on the basis that shepards don’t get cancer:

“The best known shepherds are they who went off to find the newborn Jesus. Their journey changed the course of history. They found what was to become the centre and the goal; the heavenly community with Christ. Shepherds seemed to be the chosen ones from an early stage. In the jews` exodus from Egypt, they played a crucial role, and both Moses and King David were shepherds before they got chosen as leaders. In this society, cancer was rare.”

Which is effectively the same fallacious nonsense that leads many to believe that sharks don’t get cancer.

Another dubious treatment mentioned is Biodescodificación which is a therapy supposedly based upon how emotions affect human biology. It claims that by addressing psychological conflicts physical problems, like cancer, can be cured.

Chinese medicine, homeopathy, Reiki, Quantum healing, Gerson therapy and Miracle Mineral Solution are all also put forward as suggestions.

It should be clear to any skeptic the pitfalls of Iaconesi’s endeavour. There are many out there who believe they have a cure for cancer who do not. Doctors and scientists receive training that allows them to filter this information and determine the best possible course of treatment.

Quacks on the internet do not.

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