Dr Karol Sikora (born 17 June 1948) is a British physician specialising in oncology. He is currently Medical Director of Proton Partners International, Director of Medical Oncology at the Bahamas Cancer Centre, a partner in and dean of the University of Buckingham's medical school.
Karol Sikora was born in 1948. His father was a Captain in the Polish Army who arrived in Great Britain during World War II. He was brought up in Edinburgh, Stafford and London. He had a London County Council scholarship to Dulwich College before going to Corpus Christi College, Cambridge where he became a Foundation Scholar and obtained a double first. He received his PhD at Stanford University where he also served a clinical fellowship.
After leaving Stanford, Dr. Sikora returned to Cambridge to direct the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research. From 1985-1997, he served as the clinical director for cancer services at Hammersmith Hospital in London, where he established a cancer research laboratory. In 1997, he accepted a position as the Chief of the Cancer Program of the World Health Organization, which he held for two years. He served as the Vice President of Global Clinical Research in Oncology at the Pharmacia Corporation from 1999 to 2002. He has also been a member of the UK Health Department’s Expert Advisory Group on Cancer, as well as the Committee on the Safety of Medicines.
He is currently Medical Director of Proton Partners International and dean of the University of Buckingham's medical school; the only private medical school in the UK. He is an unpaid member of the Meat Advisory Panel, an industry-backed group of researchers, scientists and health care professionals that provide information and advice about meat as part of a balanced diet. He is a member of the Oncology Scientific Advisory Board at biopharmaceutical company Cyclacel Limited, and serves as an oncology consultant for AstraZeneca. Dr. Sikora will also serve as the Interim Director of Radiation Oncology for the newly constructed Cancer Centre Eastern Caribbean in Antigua, filling in after the original director, Dr. Arthur Porter, was diagnosed with cancer.
Sikora has co-authored or edited twenty books, including Treatment of Cancer and the Economics of Cancer Care. Sikora is known for his outspoken views, and has written for the Times, the Observer, the Daily Mail, the New Statesman, and other publications.
Criticism of National Health Service
Sikora is very critical of cancer care available on the National Health Service. During President Obama's campaign for healthcare reform, he appeared in a Republican Party attack ad in the United States criticizing the NHS. Sikora told The Guardian that he did not know he would be used in the ad campaign, and that he agreed with Obama about the American health care system.
In the attack ad, Sikora was referred to as professor of oncology at Imperial College. This led Imperial to seek legal advice to stop Sikora from claiming to be a professor of cancer medicine at Imperial; a claim that he had made repeatedly over the previous five years.
Promotion of Alternative Medicine
Sikora and the School of medicine at Buckingham have in the past been supportive of alternative medicine. Buckingham for a short time offered a diploma in "integrated medicine" (a relatively recent euphemism for alternative medicine). Sikora was a Foundation Fellow of Prince Charles' now-defunct alternative medicine lobby group The Prince's Foundation for Integrated Health and Chair of the Faculty of Integrated Medicine, which is unaffiliated with any university and also includes Drs Rosy Daniel and Mark Atkinson, who led Buckingham's "integrated medicine" course. Sikora is also a "professional member" of the The College of Medicine, a patient-oriented healthcare lobby group also linked to the Prince of Wales that appeared shortly after the collapse of the Prince's Foundation. The College has been criticised extensively in the British Medical Journal for its promotion of alternative medicine. These claims have been contested by the College. He is on the advisory panel of complementary cancer care charity Penny Brohn Cancer Care, formerly the Bristol Cancer Help Centre of whom the Prince of Wales is patron, and is a patron of the Ian Rennie Hospice at Home. Statements by Sikora have been critical of unproven methods of alternative medicine, after Parliament member Lord Maurice Saatchi proposed a bill allowing doctors to use unproven experimental therapies, and he has spoken out against claims that an alkaline diet can cure cancer.
Release of Lockerbie bomber
In September 2009, the convicted Lockerbie bomber, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was released from a Scottish prison on compassionate grounds. The Daily Telegraph revealed that Sikora was one of three different doctors hired by the Libyan government to report to them about Megrahi's condition. Sikora's report concluded that Megrahi had only 3 months to live due to terminal prostate cancer. Sikora has since admitted that the "3 months" timescale was suggested to him by the Libyans. According to the Daily Telegraph, this was not the first time that Sikora had been economical with the truth. Sikora's medical diagnosis was not used by the Scottish Justice Minister since it had been paid for by Libya, but his diagnosis did agree with the medical evidence that was used. Once released, Megrahi returned to Libya and far outlived the 3-month prognosis. In July 2010, in an interview with the Sunday Times, Sikora said that "it was 'embarrassing' that Megrahi has lived much longer than expected." and "There was always a chance he could live for ten years, 20 years . . . But it's very unusual." This quote was then used first by the UK press and then by a group of USA Senators  to undermine the Scottish decision to release Megrahi on compassionate grounds, and then to link the release instead with BP contracts in Libya. In reply, the Scottish Government stated categorically that Sikora's medical opinion was not used by the Scottish Justice Minister. Sikora has since complained about the way journalists have reported his views and stated that there was probably a less than 1% chance of Megrahi living 10 years.
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- Clinical Physiology (with Campbell, Dickinson, Slater and Edwards), 1984
- Endocrine Problems in Cancer (with Roland T. Jung), 1984
- Monoclonal Antibodies (with Howard Smedley), 1984
- Molecular Biology and Human Disease (with Sandy McCleod), 1984
- Cancer – what it is and how it’s treated (with Rob Stepney and Howard Smedley), 1985
- Cancer – a study guide (with Howard Smedley), 1985
- Cancer (with Howard Smedley), 1988
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- Professor Karol Sikora: this isn’t the Lockerbie doctor’s first PR disaster by Will Heaven, The Telegraph, September 6th, 2009
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