From Gareth Cook at New York Times:
Grace’s case became the subject of intense scientific scrutiny. How could such a notoriously recalcitrant cancer simply collapse? Why had she alone responded so extremely? Nobody was claiming that she was cured. But by the end of 2011, Grace felt this much was sure: Having asked for a sign, she had become a walking miracle.
What happened to Grace is sometimes called by another biblical name: the Lazarus effect, after the story in which Jesus stands outside the tomb of Lazarus of Bethany and summons him back to life. Many veteran oncologists have seen cases like Grace’s, and the stories of these unlikely recoveries, shared online or by word of mouth, have become a source of hope for patients. Yet for the field itself, the Lazarus effect has been a source of persistent frustration.
In 2014, the institute started the Exceptional Responders Initiative, and since then the case reports have come in, each a tantalizing mystery. What explains the patient with a Stage 4 esophageal cancer that spread to the liver but then disappeared three years ago? Or the Stage 4 adenocarcinoma patient who experienced a complete remission? What can we learn, from each Lazarus, about how to save the lives of others? More.
It’s difficult to research things for which the field does not provide a ready explanation, but that’s probably where the future lives.
See also: Alarming spin in medical research claims
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