Case Studies

Kidney Cancer

In June 2001, I (Abram Hoffer, MD) was consulted by a patient who had inoperable kidney cancer. Her symptoms had started six months earlier, when she was found to have a large cancer of the kidney with metastases. A laparotomy had revealed a large, fixed renal mass, which had grown into the posterior abdominal wall and was surrounding the aorta and vena cava, and there was a huge nodal mass. The posterior lobe of her liver was firm and felt as if it had been infiltrated by tumor. It was inoperable and no treatment was offered.

I advised her to decrease her intake of sugar and to add the following supplements

  • Vitamin C, 2,000 mg in juice, taken six times spread over the day (12,000 mg total)
  • Niacin, 100 mg after each of three meals
  • B-complex vitamins, 100 mg once daily
  • Folic acid, 5 mg once daily
  • Selenium, 200 mcg once daily

Three months later, she was very pleased with her progress. In August 2003, she was deregistered from both hospice and home nursing care because she was doing so well. Her daughter noted how amazed the professional workers were. Six years after the first symptoms, she is free of symptoms and generally healthier than she was when I first saw her.


Patient no. 6, age seventy-two, was first seen in January 1980, and this patient died of heart disease in July 1989. He had a triple bypass a few years before. Stabbing pain in the left groin started in March 1978, and the following February a slow-growing neurofibrosarcoma of the left groin was discovered and partially removed. A course of palliative cobalt irradiation was applied to the left hip area during March 1979. The cancer clinic noted, “There is apparently residual tumor about the size of a grapefruit involving the left side of the pelvis and it was felt that it might be possible to give this man a course of cobalt irradiation on the off chance that this lesion might be radiosensitive, although we do not expect this histologically to be particularly radiosensitive.” Following radiotherapy, there was some improvement in the swelling of the left leg and left groin, but a persistent infection developed at the operative site. This was treated with antibiotics. The clinic noted in January 1980 that there been some increased extension in the inferior part of the left groin.

He was very depressed not only because of his cancer but because his wife had terminal cancer and she had just gone to the hospital. He had been looking after her for the previous three months by himself. He told his family doctor that he had a little money saved and that he would go to Mexico and blow it all if necessary. His family doctor then referred him to me. In the meantime, his wife died.

I advised him to start on an orthomolecular diet of fruits, vegetables, and a minimum of meat. His supplements included the following:

  • Vitamin C (4,000 mg three times daily)
  • Niacinamide (500 mg three times daily)
  • Pyridoxine (250 mg three times daily)
  • Zinc gluconate (100 mg daily)
  • A multi-mineral preparation

He could not increase his oral dose because he developed loose stools. His physician gave him sodium ascorbate (2,500 mg) intravenously three times a week, from February to September 1980. In May 1980, the patient wrote, “Throughout the period of treatment, I have felt exceptionally fit and vital. I have recently bought a new house, am going on a trip to Europe, and am looking forward to a new happy, healthful life.” He remarried in 1981. A subsequent radiology reported “marked improvement with some apparent bony reconstruction of the left superior pubic ramus. There has certainly been no further bony destruction in the interior.” The patient remained vigorously active until his death nine years later.


Patient no. 1039 was born in 1958 and first seen by me in March 1999. In 1984, while training in Canada for athletic competition, he developed pain in the left pubic area, later diagnosed as a stress fracture; subsequently, a cyst was found. He would often have a sensation of tightness in his left groin and would have to stretch prior to activities. For the following eighteen months, he had increasing left groin pain, which sometimes wakened him at night. Occasionally, he would have pain shooting down the anterior leg to his ankle. He also noticed some weakness in his hip. He was still training 8-12 hours per week for triathlons and also as a cycling coach in Japan and Canada.

An x-ray of the pelvis revealed a large bony mass (10 × 15 cm) arising from the left inferior and superior pubic rami. He was waiting further examination with a biopsy to determine exactly what kind of a growth he had. The tumor had not spread. The radiologist reported a large exophytic mass (approximately 8 × 5 cm) arising posteriorly from the left side of the pubis, displacing the bladder and rectum to the right. It looked like a large osteochondroma with malignant degeneration. The cancer clinic stated that it was most likely he would require a resection of the lesion, which might include an internal left hemipelvectomy and a hip arthrodesis.

Following this diagnosis, he was advised to have surgery immediately and a bed was booked for him. He refused, since losing half his pelvis would destroy his career and leave him with a quality of life he did not want to endure. He flew to Toronto to see another surgeon, who promptly gave him the same advice. He rejected that too, and came back to Victoria to start an orthomolecular program.

I recommended the following program:

  • Ascorbic acid (4,000 mg taken four times daily, to be increased to sublaxative levels)
  • Niacinamide (500 mg three times daily)
  • Selenium (1,000 mcg daily)
  • B-complex (100 mg daily)
  • Zinc citrate (50 mg daily)
  • Vitamin E succinate (800 IU daily)

In April 1999, most of the pain was gone and he could run again with no discomfort. His appetite was good and weight and energy levels were normal. He still hoped to avoid surgery and would decide after his next computerized tomography (CT) scan and other examinations. In December 1999, he wrote to say that his latest magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan (December 15th) showed some good results-the tumor had shrunk and the volume had decreased 36 percent. Even a sarcoma specialist he had seen suggested carrying on with the current treatment.

He felt very positively about these results. As he stated, “Without our initial meeting, I could very well be living with a fused hip.” He added some Chinese herbs to the treatment and found that any pain had abated. In June 2003, he reported that the tumor, after a long period of quiescence, had started to shrink again. In April 2007, he is alive and well and fully employed in his profession as an athlete.

From: Hoffer A and Saul AW. Orthomolecular Medicine for Everyone. Laguna Beach, CA: Basic Health Pub, 2008.

“In a 1982 letter, Irwin Stone tells Albert Szent-Gyorgyi of a friend of his who, was diagnosed with prostate cancer at age 44 and then treated with surgery and radiation. A few years later, the cancer had metastasized to the pelvic bone and the patient was declared terminal and given about a year to live. However, Stone writes:

‘Since he began taking 80 grams a day in 1979, his well-being has been excellent. He says he feels great most of the time, has also been able to continue working every day and lives a fairly normal life of the years since November 1978 when orthodox medicine said he would be dead. Visually he looks more like an athlete than a terminal cancer patient. . . In the last few weeks he has been able to improve his well-being by increasing his ascorbate intake to 130 to 150 grams per day! He has been taking oral doses every hour of 5 to 10 grams of a mixture of nine parts sodium ascorbate plus one part ascorbic acid dissolved in water. These doses are well tolerated and within “bowel tolerance” and he has had no trouble from diarrhea except just lately when he had to reduce the 150 grams a day to 130 grams. I believe his case is a classic and a good demonstration that if sufficient ascorbate is given to fully counteract all the incident stresses, then the cancer can be controlled. If given early enough in this disease, then cancer may no longer be a problem. Up to now we just haven’t realized how big these daily controlling doses have to be.’

“An acquaintance of mine took Stone’s point very seriously. He had terminal lung cancer, and was constantly coughing up blood such that he had a mostly-red handkerchief in his hand anytime you spoke with him. He was too sick to get out of his recliner. In was in this chair that his life played out, day and night. He could not walk. He was in too much pain to even lie down. He spent the night in his chair. He did not want to eat. But he was more than willing to try what Dr. Stone’s friend had tried, and did. He took a level teaspoon of ascorbic acid crystals, about 4,000 mg, every half hour he was awake, day or night. His total daily intake approached 100,000 mg. Within days, he stopped coughing up the blood. If ascorbate had done nothing else, this alone would have been more than enough benefit. But there was more good news within the week. His appetite returned, and he was now able to lie down in the bed. He reported that he was sleeping much better and was in much less pain. Within two weeks, he was able to walk around the house with a cane, and even go out into the yard. His quality of life was extraordinarily enhanced by the vitamin C. He never got diarrhea.”

From: Saul AW. Taking the cure: Irwin Stone: Orthomolecular educator and innovator. J Orthomolecular Med, 2005. Vol 20, No 4, p 230-236.