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If you or someone you care about has cancer, the last thing you need is the phony promise of a treatment. While it may be hard to believe, there are scammers who hawk un-proven and sometimes even harmful products to cancer patients.

Find out the warning signs of a cancer treatment scam and get more information on spotting scams offering misleading or bogus treatments, cures and services.


No, I’m not a doctor and I don’t even play one on TV. I’m actually an actor, hired by the Federal Trade Commission,to show you why it’s best to use a healthy dose of skepticism when you see ads for cancer cures.

Scary and cruel as it is, there are companies set up to take advantage of people with cancer, promising cures that aren’t proven to work and may even be harmful. If you or someone you care about has cancer, the last thing you need is a scam.

What’s the first thing you need?  To talk to your doctor. He or she can tell you about any risks of the product and how it might affect your on-going treatment or any medications you might be taking.

Next, be skeptical of claims for cancer treatment products you see on the Internet. You’ll hear about supposedly hot products like Black Salve, laetrile (LAY-uh-trill), and Essiac tea -- and how they can provide relief for your symptoms -- or even a cure for the disease.  

Other things to be aware of: -- The word “Natural.”  Now it doesn’t necessarily mean safe and effective. “Natural” can be harmful and ineffective.

One size doesn’t fit all – all cancers are different, and no one treatment works for everybody. Even two people with the same diagnosis may need different treatments.  

Now, exactly how do these scams work to earn your trust? They use testimonials. They seem real, but testimonials can be completely fake. I looked like a doctor, right? And those “patients” you see? Often, actors paid to endorse the product. They use technical jargon – a lot of it.  But “scientific talk” doesn’t guarantee scientific proof. Big words from a medical dictionary are no substitute for the plain facts from your doctor.

The bottom line about treatment is  — always talk to your doctor.

For more information on how to spot phony cancer treatments and supposed cancer cures, visit FTC.GOV/CURIOUS. You’ll also find sources of information that you and your doctor can trust.

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