The doctor many believe can cure cancer
9 August 2004
Reporter: Ray Martin
Over a period of 30 years, highly qualified Perth-based surgeon Dr
John Holt has had some startling successes with a radio-wave therapy
treatment for cancer patients.
However, this radical treatment has polarised the medical community
in Australia. His supporters say he's been vilified, while his
detractors point out there is no scientific basis for his claims.
Elvina Johnson had a lot of living to do when she was told she had an
aggressive form of bone cancer. At 18, doctors discovered she had
a "galaxy of tumours". She lost her leg and underwent intensive chemo
treatment to try and stop it spreading. Her cancer was so severe that
she relapsed soon after.
"It was through both of my lungs and by that stage it was pretty
terminal," she told Ray Martin.
Elvina was desperate. Quite by chance she heard about a cancer
specialist with a highly controversial procedure.
"By taking the chance and finding this man, I am here six years later
and probably feeling better than ever, so I have had a rebirth," she
Dr Holt's controversial treatment works, in layperson's terms, by
giving the patient an injection of a glucose-blocking agent. He then
shines "radio waves" into the body at a specific frequency. Dr Holt
doesn't guarantee it will cure every cancer, but it's not expensive
and there's no quackery about it.
Born in Bristol 80 years ago and a member of the Royal Colleges, Dr
Holt has 26 medical letters after his name. For more than a decade he
was in charge of Western Australia's main cancer institute, until the
late '70s, when he was blacklisted by his medical colleagues and
"The doctors took up such an action initially, they said the
treatment was fake and useless," said former WA Premier John Tonkin.
But Tonkin added, "There is no doubt whatsoever in my mind that this
is the most advanced form of cancer treatment in the world today."
The polarisation of the medical and scientific community in Perth
over Dr Holt's treatment has been evident since the mid-'70s.
"It is an unproven form of cancer treatment and it's not part of the
armoury of orthodox ways of treating cancer in Australia," said Clive
Deverill, the former boss of WA's Cancer Council. "Equally, there are
legions of patients who have been down that track who can't say
anything about their position because they're dead."
While the medical community continues to argue the merits of Dr
Holt's unorthodox measures, the families of his successes feel they
owe everything to this gentle man.
After two brain tumours and a tumour on her spine, Sophia Rosa was
sent by pre-eminent brain surgeon Dr Charlie Teo for the radical
treatment. Two years later, the only sign Sophia had cancer are the
side-effects from the massive doses of chemotherapy given in Sydney.
"Sometimes I think maybe Sophia's reason for getting sick was so
people would know about Doctor Holt," said Louisa Raso, Sophia's mum.