Talk:William Coley

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References and a bit of Rigour please[edit]

This is historically interesting, but where are the references? I worry that it strikes the tone of Coleys toxins being a miracle cancer treatment which has been marginalised by the medical establishment. This would be quite wrong.

Many of the statements must be regarded as unsound eg:

"He found that surgery had been much more effective in the past, before the use of antiseptics when infection was a normal side effect of surgery." Complete nonsense, surely.

"For example, one surgeon in the 1770s purportedly cured six out of every seven patients." Purportedly? Please!

"Coley also learned of the case of a patient at his own hospital seven years earlier, who had throat and tonsil cancer. After surgery, there was not much hope for him. Then he came down with erysipelas, a bacterial infection caused by Streptococcus pyogenes. His cancer disappeared, and Coley found that he was still alive, seven years later." Anecdote.

Anecdotal evidence but substantiated: "During a review of the records of New York Hospital, Coley learned about a patient who, seven years previously, had had an inoperable malignant tumor in his neck that seemed to disappear after he developed erysipelas. The patient was discharged, apparently without evidence of a residual tumor. Coley personally searched for this patient by combing the tenements of Lower Manhattan. After weeks, he finally found the patient, a German immigrant named Stein, and he had no evidence of residual cancer. Mr. Stein's seemingly miraculous cure contrasted with Bessie Dashiell's rapid death and inspired Coley to scour the literature looking for other patients who had cancer remission due to a concurrent bacterial infection." Graywriter (talk) 03:47, 25 June 2013 (UTC)

"The first patient to receive Coley Vaccine was a sixteen-year-old boy with a massive abdominal tumor. Every few days, Coley injected his vaccine directly into the tumor mass and produced the symptoms of an infectious disease, but did not produce the disease itself. On each injection, there was a dramatic rise in body temperature and chills. The tumour gradually diminished in size. By May 1893, after four months of intensive treatment, the tumour was a fifth its original size. By August, the remains of the growth were barely perceptible."

Anecdote. Did he actually do any controlled trials?

Yes, but his methodology was challenged. Other physicians using his "toxins" did not follow his methods and received poor results, leading them to name him a charlatan. Later reviews of his work suggested a 50% survival rate. See For survival rates using "modern" treatments, see Graywriter (talk) 03:47, 25 June 2013 (UTC)

"According to Stephen Hoption Cann of the University of British Columbia, "He had successes you simply couldn't hope for today, curing even extensive metastatic disease." (New Scientist, 2 Nov., 2002)" Hoption Cann is not an oncologist. New Scientist, whilst being an excellent journal, is not a peer-reviewed immunology or oncology journal. This statement is pure journalese. The New Scientist article should not form the basis of this whole piece.


Agreed that a single pop-science piece should not underpin the article, but what makes you think only oncologists can contribute to cancer study? Stephen Hoption Cann, PhD, is Clinical Associate Professor at the University of British Columbia (Canada) School of Population and Public Health. He is also Associate Chair, UBC Clinical Research Ethics Board. One of his specialties is the study of spontaneous disease remission in association with acute febrile infections. See Graywriter (talk) 03:47, 25 June 2013 (UTC)

"Even so, every published study has reached the same conclusion: Coley Vaccine therapy is as good, or better, than modern therapies." References please. This is bollocks until someone can demonstrate otherwise. Jellytussle 23:22, 22 June 2006 (UTC)

Cancer Research Institute[edit]

Hello- I am an employee of the Cancer Research Institute. As a non-profit organization founded on the premise of Dr. Coley's research, we believe CRI should have a Wikipedia page. We would like to stay neutral and are requesting that someone who has interest in the field of immunology write the article. We have biographical photos we may be able to provide for this page. Also, I suggest using "A commotion in the blood" by Stephen S. Hall as a source for more information on Dr. Coley's research and the immunology field. Thank you for your time - —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:21, 13 January 2009 (UTC)

There are lots of Cancer Research Institutes. Do you have a proper campus/address/website? Do you do original research? How are you funded? etc etc and etc. Jellytussle (talk) 15:54, 16 January 2009 (UTC)

We are the Cancer Research Institute located in NYC. Our website is Please visit our website to find our more information about or organization. If you cannot find what you are looking for, please do not hesitate to ask me.

The majority of our donations come from both large and small gifts from our donors. We generally do not organize regional or national campaigns. To see our charity ratings please visit

For more information on our research programs and on our funded scientists please visit the programs section of our website.

I hope these links help and thank you for your reply.--CancerResearchInstitute (talk) 17:33, 16 January 2009 (UTC)

Coley Overview References[edit]

I have added new references to the overview section, but they do not seem to show up as separate entities even though they are from different journals. Is this because Coley is the author of both? I don't think they should both be referred to as reference number 1 when they are not the same... -CancerResearchInstitute (talk) 17:41, 27 January 2009 (UTC)

MJA InSight[edit]

This source does not qualify for WP:MEDRS. I looked at the website, I cannot see what, if any, editorial control covers it. It looks like a newsletter, not a journal, and appears to be little better than letters to the editor. Does not deserve weight, especially to "correct" the mainstream understanding of the efficacy. Yobol (talk) 11:18, 11 April 2014 (UTC)

Agree. The problematic material (and more) was also at Paul Sanderson and The Emperor of All Maladies. Alexbrn talk|contribs|COI 22:20, 11 April 2014 (UTC)