714-X (PDQ®)–Patient Version
NOTE: The information in this summary is no longer being updated and is provided for reference purposes only.
- The main ingredient of 714-X is camphor, which comes from the wood and bark of the camphor tree (see Question 1).
- It is claimed that 714-X helps the immune system fight cancer (see Question 3).
- No study of 714-X has been published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal to show it is safe or effective in treating cancer (see Question 6).
- 714-X is not approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for use in the United States (see Question 8).
Questions and Answers About 714-X
- What is 714-X?
The main ingredient in 714-X is made by combining chemicals with camphor, a natural substance that comes from the wood and bark of the camphor tree. Ammonia and salt are added to camphor to make 714-X.
- What is the history of the discovery and use of 714-X as a complementary and alternative treatment for cancer?
714-X was developed in the 1960s in Canada, where it is still being made. Patients in Canada can get 714-X only from a doctor, for compassionate use (giving a treatment to patients before it is approved, because they have a life-threatening disease and there is no drug or other therapy to treat the disease). 714-X is used in Mexico and some western European countries. It is not approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in the United States (see Question 8).
- What is the theory behind the claim that 714-X is useful in treating cancer?
The development of 714-X was based on the theory that there are tiny living things in the blood called somatids. According to this theory, some types of somatids are found only in the blood of people who have cancer or other serious diseases. These types of somatids are said to make growth hormones that cause cells to grow without control. The makers of 714-X state that by looking at the number and type of somatids in the blood, doctors can see if cancer is starting to form or can diagnose cancer and predict where the cancer will spread.
The theory states that cancer cells trap nitrogen needed by normal cells and make a toxic substance that weakens the immune system. 714-X is reported to help the body fight cancer cells in these ways:
Some research studies are published in scientific journals. Most scientific journals have experts who review research reports before they are published, to make sure that the evidence and conclusions are sound. This is called peer review. Studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals are considered to be better evidence. No studies have been published in peer-reviewed scientific journals to support the theory of somatids in the development of cancer. Research on the use of 714-X as a cancer treatment is discussed in Question 5 and Question 6.
- How is 714-X administered?
714-X is usually given by injection near the lymph nodes in the groin. In some patients with lung or oral cancer, 714-X can be sprayed into the nose using a nebulizer (a device that turns liquid into a fine spray). The makers of 714-X do not recommend injecting it into a vein (intravenously) or taking it by mouth.
The makers of 714-X suggest the following:
- Have any preclinical (laboratory or animal) studies been conducted using 714-X?
Research in a laboratory or using animals is done to find out if a drug, procedure, or treatment is likely to be useful in humans. Animal tumor models are used to learn how a cancer may progress and to test new treatments. These preclinical studies are done before any testing in humans is begun.
No laboratory studies of the safety and/or effectiveness of 714-X have been published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. A few animal experiments have been done, but the results of these experiments have not been reported in scientific journals. The animal studies used a lymphosarcoma tumor model in rats and lymphoma tumor models in dogs and cows. 714-X was not found to be effective against cancer in these studies.
- Have any clinical trials (research studies with people) of 714-X been conducted?
No clinical trials or other studies with cancer patients have been published in peer-reviewed scientific journals to support the safety or effectiveness of 714-X. A number of anecdotal reports (incomplete descriptions of the medical and treatment history of one or more patients) and testimonials (personal reports from people who claim to have been helped or cured by the product) have been published in newspapers and other nonmedical literature. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) reviewed the records of some cancer patients who used 714-X. This review was done to decide if NCI should begin a clinical trial of the product. Not enough information was available to support recommending a trial.
- Have any side effects or risks been reported from 714-X?
The makers of 714-X claim that it is not harmful to humans. The reported side effects of treatment with 714-X are redness, tenderness, and swelling at the injection site.
- Is 714-X approved by the FDA as a cancer treatment in the United States?
The FDA has not approved 714-X for use in the United States.
About This PDQ Summary
Physician Data Query (PDQ) is the National Cancer Institute's (NCI's) comprehensive cancer information database. The PDQ database contains summaries of the latest published information on cancer prevention, detection, genetics, treatment, supportive care, and complementary and alternative medicine. Most summaries come in two versions. The health professional versions have detailed information written in technical language. The patient versions are written in easy-to-understand, nontechnical language. Both versions have cancer information that is accurate and up to date and most versions are also available in Spanish.
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Purpose of This Summary
This PDQ cancer information summary has current information about the use of 714-X in the treatment of people with cancer. It is meant to inform and help patients, families, and caregivers. It does not give formal guidelines or recommendations for making decisions about health care.
Reviewers and Updates
Editorial Boards write the PDQ cancer information summaries and keep them up to date. These Boards are made up of experts in cancer treatment and other specialties related to cancer. The summaries are reviewed regularly and changes are made when there is new information. The date on each summary ("Updated") is the date of the most recent change.
The information in this patient summary was taken from the health professional version, which is reviewed regularly and updated as needed, by the PDQ Integrative, Alternative, and Complementary Therapies Editorial Board.
Clinical Trial Information
A clinical trial is a study to answer a scientific question, such as whether one treatment is better than another. Trials are based on past studies and what has been learned in the laboratory. Each trial answers certain scientific questions in order to find new and better ways to help cancer patients. During treatment clinical trials, information is collected about the effects of a new treatment and how well it works. If a clinical trial shows that a new treatment is better than one currently being used, the new treatment may become "standard." Patients may want to think about taking part in a clinical trial. Some clinical trials are open only to patients who have not started treatment.
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The best way to cite this PDQ summary is:
PDQ® Integrative, Alternative, and Complementary Therapies Editorial Board. PDQ 714-X. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute. Updated <MM/DD/YYYY>. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/cam/patient/714-x-pdq. Accessed <MM/DD/YYYY>. [PMID: 26389214]
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General CAM Information
Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM)—also called integrative medicine—includes a broad range of healing philosophies, approaches, and therapies. A therapy is generally called complementary when it is used in addition to conventional treatments; it is often called alternative when it is used instead of conventional treatment. (Conventional treatments are those that are widely accepted and practiced by the mainstream medical community.) Depending on how they are used, some therapies can be considered either complementary or alternative. Complementary and alternative therapies are used in an effort to prevent illness, reduce stress, prevent or reduce side effects and symptoms, or control or cure disease.
Unlike conventional treatments for cancer, complementary and alternative therapies are often not covered by insurance companies. Patients should check with their insurance provider to find out about coverage for complementary and alternative therapies.
Cancer patients considering complementary and alternative therapies should discuss this decision with their doctor, nurse, or pharmacist as they would any type of treatment. Some complementary and alternative therapies may affect their standard treatment or may be harmful when used with conventional treatment.
Evaluation of CAM Therapies
It is important that the same scientific methods used to test conventional therapies are used to test CAM therapies. The National Cancer Institute and the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) are sponsoring a number of clinical trials (research studies) at medical centers to test CAM therapies for use in cancer.
Conventional approaches to cancer treatment have generally been studied for safety and effectiveness through a scientific process that includes clinical trials with large numbers of patients. Less is known about the safety and effectiveness of complementary and alternative methods. Few CAM therapies have been tested using demanding scientific methods. A small number of CAM therapies that were thought to be purely alternative approaches are now being used in cancer treatment—not as cures, but as complementary therapies that may help patients feel better and recover faster. One example is acupuncture. According to a panel of experts at a National Institutes of Health (NIH) meeting in November 1997, acupuncture has been found to help control nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy and pain related to surgery. However, some approaches, such as the use of laetrile, have been studied and found not to work and to possibly cause harm.
The NCI Best Case Series Program which was started in 1991, is one way CAM approaches that are being used in practice are being studied. The program is overseen by the NCI’s Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine (OCCAM). Health care professionals who offer alternative cancer therapies submit their patients’ medical records and related materials to OCCAM. OCCAM carefully reviews these materials to see if any seem worth further research.
Questions to Ask Your Health Care Provider About CAM
When considering complementary and alternative therapies, patients should ask their health care provider the following questions:
- What side effects can be expected?
- What are the risks related to this therapy?
- What benefits can be expected from this therapy?
- Do the known benefits outweigh the risks?
- Will the therapy affect conventional treatment?
- Is this therapy part of a clinical trial?
- If so, who is the sponsor of the trial?
- Will the therapy be covered by health insurance?
To Learn More About CAM
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) facilitates research and evaluation of complementary and alternative practices, and provides information about a variety of approaches to health professionals and the public.
- NCCIH Clearinghouse
- Post Office Box 7923 Gaithersburg, MD 20898–7923
- Telephone: 1-888-644-6226 (toll free)
- TTY (for deaf and hard of hearing callers): 1-866-464-3615
- E-mail: email@example.com
- Website: https://nccih.nih.gov
CAM on PubMed
NCCIH and the NIH National Library of Medicine (NLM) jointly developed CAM on PubMed, a free and easy-to-use search tool for finding CAM-related journal citations. As a subset of the NLM's PubMed bibliographic database, CAM on PubMed features more than 230,000 references and abstracts for CAM-related articles from scientific journals. This database also provides links to the websites of over 1,800 journals, allowing users to view full-text articles. (A subscription or other fee may be required to access full-text articles.)
Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine
The NCI Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine (OCCAM) coordinates the activities of the NCI in the area of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). OCCAM supports CAM cancer research and provides information about cancer-related CAM to health providers and the general public via the NCI website.
National Cancer Institute (NCI) Cancer Information Service
U.S. residents may call the Cancer Information Service (CIS), NCI's contact center, toll free at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237) Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm. A trained Cancer Information Specialist is available to answer your questions.
Food and Drug Administration
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates drugs and medical devices to ensure that they are safe and effective.
- Food and Drug Administration
- 10903 New Hampshire Avenue
- Silver Spring, MD 20993
- Telephone: 1-888-463-6332 (toll free)
- Website: http://www.fda.gov
Federal Trade Commission
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) enforces consumer protection laws. Publications available from the FTC include:
- Who Cares: Sources of Information About Health Care Products and Services
- Fraudulent Health Claims: Don’t Be Fooled
- Consumer Response Center
- Federal Trade Commission
- 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
- Washington, DC 20580
- Telephone: 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357) (toll free)
- TTY (for deaf and hard of hearing callers): 202-326-2502
- Website: http://www.ftc.gov