A miracle cancer drug in the era of social media: A survey of Brazilian oncologists' opinions and experience with phosphoethanolamine

Juliana Florinda M. RêGo, Gilberto Lopes, Rachel P. Riechelmann, Cinthya Sternberg, Claudio Ferrari, Gustavo Fernandes

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Introduction: Patients who are treating cancer have often used alternative therapies. In the internet era, information can be broadcasted widely, and this happened with phosphoethanolamine in Brazil, where this substance was claimed by the population to be the "cure for cancer." Method: This is a cross-sectional study developed by the Brazilian Society of Clinical Oncology (SBOC). An objectively structured questionnaire was sent by e-mail and SMS to active MDs members of the SBOC. Descriptive statistics was used to evaluate the data. Statistical signifcance between the variables was tested by Pearson's Chi-squared test (p<0.05 was considered signifcance). Results: The survey was sent to 1,072 oncologists, and 398 (37.1%) answered at least part of it. One hundred and ffteen (28.9%) had followed patients who had used phosphoethanolamine. Among these, 14 (12.2%) observed adverse events and four (3.5%) attributed clinical beneft to the substance. Most of the oncologists (n=331; 83.2%) believe that it should only be used as part of a clinical trial protocol. Most physicians did not recommend this drug to their patients (n=311; 78.1%). Oncologists in Southeast, South and Midwest Brazil were more likely to have patients taking the drug compared to the Northern and Northeastern regions. Conclusion: This is the frst survey to assess the opinion and experience of oncologists about this alternative therapy. Most oncologists in Brazil do not believe that synthetic phosphoethanolamine is active in cancer treatment, do not recommend its use without proper evaluation, and state that it should only be available to patients in the context of clinical trials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)70-77
Number of pages8
JournalRevista da Associacao Medica Brasileira
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Alternative therapies
  • Brazil
  • Cancer
  • Phosphoethanolamine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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