Alternative therapies and the Di Bella affair in pediatrics. A questionnaire submitted to Italian pediatric oncologists and hematologists

G. Roberto Burgio, Franco Locatelli

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Background and Objectives. Over the last 2-3 years in particular, the so-called Di Bella therapy (DBT) become the most famous of alternative treatments applied to pediatric oncology and hematology in Italy. Many Italian oncologists and hematologists had to cope with the problems that it introduced and the treatment also elicited heated reactions all over Europe. We attempted to evaluate the impact of this treatment on children with cancer. Design and Methods. A questionnaire prepared with the aim of addressing the use of alternative therapies in pediatric hematology and oncology was circulated to the 48 centers (or divisions) belonging to AIEOP (Associazione Italiana di Oncoematologia Pediatrica) [Italian Pediatric Oncology and Hematology Association] and FONOP (Forza Operativa Nazionale di Oncologia Pediatrica) [National Pediatric Oncology Task Force]. The questionnaire consisted of 9 questions elaborated to give credit to the case- related and professional experiences of the colleagues we contacted. Results. Forty-three centers replied to the questionnaire. Request to switch to DBT represented a considerable problem, involving the vast majority of centers participating into this study; however, case quantification varied greatly from center to center. One of the most significant aspects is that children switched to DBT, abandoning conventional therapies, were often relapsing or had had multiple relapses (from solid tumor or leukemia), but some children abandoned conventional therapies at an early stage and/or without fully exploiting the curative potential of these therapies. Interpretation and Conclusions. This study allowed us to obtain an evaluation of the impact of DBT in children with oncologic or hematologic disorders. It also highlights the importance of cultivating physician-parent dialogue and provides an opportunity for a few pedagogic thoughts on the attitude and opinIons of pediatricians on this problem. (C) 2000 Ferrata Storti Foundation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-194
Number of pages6
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2000


  • Alternative therapies
  • Bioethics
  • Childhood neoplasia
  • Di Bella therapy
  • Leukemia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology


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