Cancer Treatment Centers of America
Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) is a private, for-profit operator of cancer treatment hospitals and outpatient clinics which provide both conventional and alternative medical treatments. Critics have accused the centers of using anti-science treatments including homeopathy and acupuncture mixed with conventional chemotherapy and good eating habits to appear to be a science-based treatment center.
CTCA is headquartered in Schaumburg, Illinois. CTCA has five hospitals in the United States, Midwestern Regional Medical Center located in Zion, Illinois; Southwestern Regional Medical Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma; Eastern Regional Medical Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Western Regional Medical Center in Goodyear, Arizona; and Southeastern Regional Medical Center in Newnan, Georgia. CTCA also operates an outpatient oncology clinic, Seattle Cancer Treatment and Wellness Center in Seattle, Washington.
CTCA was founded by Richard J. Stephenson after his mother, who had cancer, died. Stephenson was unsatisfied with the treatment options available to his mother and opened the first CTCA hospital in 1988. The first hospital to open was Midwestern Regional Medical Center in Zion, Illinois.
Cancer Treatment Centers of America was the subject of a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) complaint in 1993. The FTC alleged that CTCA made false claims regarding the success rates of certain cancer treatments in CTCA's marketing and promotional materials. This claim was settled in March 1996, requiring CTCA to discontinue use of any unsubstantiated claims in their advertising. CTCA is also required to have proven, scientific evidence for all statements regarding the safety, success rates, endorsements, and benefits of their cancer treatments. CTCA was also required to follow various steps in order to report compliance to the FTC per the settlement.
A 2013 Reuters special report stated that CTCA continues to make misleading survival rate claims on its website. Reuters asked cancer experts to review CTCA's claims that their survival rates were better than national averages. CTCA compared their outcomes with the National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) database. The experts said that CTCA's patients and SEER's patients were not compatible, and that the comparison was biased in favor of CTCA. For example, CTCA's patients are younger, wealthier, beter-insured, and more likely to be diagnosed early. Reuters said that CTCA screens patients for income and ability to pay, and refuses those who are on Medicare, Medicaid, or uninsured.
According to the Washington Post, founder Stephenson is one of the primary funding sources for the conservative organization Freedom Works, which has typically aligned itself with tea party causes.
In 2013, oncologist David Gorski, writing for Science Blogs, published an article that criticized CTCA for using pseudoscientific treatments (e.g., homeopathy) in addition to mainstream treatments. He stated that some "otherwise talented doctors" are now "complicit in the blurring of the line between science and pseudoscience in medicine while believing that they are doing good for the patient by giving them 'holistic care'. "
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