Where do you get the information you provide?
We rely on US government databases including PubMed (Medline), PDQ, Clinicaltrials.gov, PreMedline, and others.
Doesn’t my doctor have all this information?
Not necessarily. Few doctors are able to keep up with the latest developments for all of their patients. Even those who are up-to-date on the latest developments often disagree with other equally qualified doctors as to the best treatment options. What’s more, in today’s medical environment, doctors are under pressure to spend less and less time with each patient. Few doctors have time to research treatment developments for each individual patient. We believe that patients should be making their own medical choices based on the best information available.
I’m at a top medical center. Don’t they know what the best treatment is?
Medical treatment is complex. Different hospitals have different opinions and policies as to how various illnesses should be treated. Awhile ago, we got a call from a nurse at Mayo Clinic who ordered a report for her lymphoma. She said, “I know I’m at one of the best medical facilities in the world, and I know how they will treat me here. But I want to know what Johns Hopkins, MD Anderson, Sloan Kettering, and others would do for me and how it would differ from Mayo’s approach.”
Can I do the searching myself?
Yes you can, but we can do it much faster and much better. We have been doing it for years, been trained by the National Library of Medicine, and developed sophisticated software to enhance and perfect our searches. The software we developed is based on many years of experience searching the databases and producing several thousand reports. The medical database interfaces are not intuitive nor user-friendly to anyone who doesn’t know the syntax and the controlled vocabulary. Our proprietary TWU software does something that no other software can do (see next FAQ).
What is Treatment Weekly Update (TWU)?
TWU is the software that we developed with skilled software engineers. We use it primarily for regular updates. It searches the medical databases for new clinical trials and treatment reports specific to each client’s illness. Perhaps its most important feature is that it uses a unique and proprietary search algorithm to search the PreMedline database. PreMedline is where new treatment reports are first made available; it can be months before they are moved from PreMedline to the main PubMed (Medline) database. But items in PreMedline are not indexed, so searching for treatment articles that can make a difference is difficult and time consuming. TWU software is designed to pinpoint treatment articles that might be helpful to each of our clients. TWU is the only available software that can search PreMedline in this targeted manner.
What is a clinical trial?
A clinical trial is the introduction of a new treatment to humans on a restricted basis. Before a new treatment is fully approved by the FDA, developers must demonstrate its safety and effectiveness via rigorous and structured testing through a clinical trial. In nearly all instances, clinical trials are divided into phases:
In this phase, a new drug is first administered to humans. Because the drug is new to humans, the risks are highest at this stage. Part of the researcher’s job is to determine the best way to administer the drug and appropriate dosage, and to carefully monitor side effects. Only people with advanced-stage disease who could not be helped by other known treatment are typically allowed to participate in this potentially dangerous phase.
More patients have access to the trial in this phase, since the treatment has successfully passed through phase I, and safety and efficacy has been indicated (though not necessarily proven).
The key to this phase is comparing the new treatment with other treatments. The group getting the new treatment is called the treatment group and the group that receives the standard treatment is called the control group. Where there is no existing treatment, some patients get the treatment, and the control group gets a placebo — no treatment at all. This is typically done double blind and through randomization, meaning patients are randomly assigned to the treatment or control group, and neither the researcher nor the patient knows who gets the new treatment and who is in the control group; a computer safely keeps track of who received each treatment. While this is good science, it unfortunately means that some patients get a treatment that may not be as effective as the one other patients are receiving. For this reason, the FDA sometimes permits developers to skip this phase for promising treatments if there is clear evidence that the investigational treatment is better than the existing alternatives or no treatment at all.
A treatment that makes it into phase IV has essentially proven its value. Although the FDA continues to monitor its benefits and toxicity, it becomes a standard treatment option unless and until new data uncovers unforeseen problems. In essence, a treatment in phase IV is provisionally approved.
Do you search for alternative cures or traditional cures?
Alternative to what? Call it traditional, alternative, Western, Eastern, or something else entirely. The real question is: What works best? We search for the treatment options that work the best, regardless of the category or label. Our reports, including TWU follow-up reports, are compiled exclusively from medical and scientific databases. For more information on our policy regarding alternative treatment searches, see the page Alternative Treatments.
How long does it take to complete a report?
In most instances, you will receive your report within two days of ordering it. Your weekly TWU follow-up search will arrive each week (usually Monday) that it finds something in the databases that may offer a new treatment possibility worth exploring or may be otherwise helpful to your treatment plans.
How much does a report cost?
Currently, a report for any illness is US$179.00, payable via major credit card. This price includes one month of TWU (weekly follow-up) searching. After that, follow-up reports will continue for $10 per month. You can cancel anytime. Order a report here.
How is my report sent to me?
Your initial and weekly follow-up reports will be sent via email. The initial report is in PDF format. Reports include links to some of the original sources.
Are your reports off the shelf or individualized to each client?
We individually search each report when it is ordered. An elderly person with recurred colon cancer, for example, will get a very different report from a young person with newly diagnosed stage II colon cancer. In fact, someone ordering a report today will get a different report from the one they would have received had they ordered a month ago. We are looking for the most current information possible. The same holds true for TWU updates; every one is customized according to illness, stage (if applicable), age, and more.
Do your reports include foreign medical information and treatments?
Absolutely! We are more concerned with how well the treatment works than with what country it comes from. The databases we use include articles from well over 100 countries worldwide. Your report will be entirely in English because non-English article summaries are translated before they are entered in the databases.
Several of our clients have found treatments based on research from outside the US. In some cases they were able to receive the foreign-developed treatment within the United States. In other instances they have traveled to Europe, Canada, and Japan.
Can you do specialized searches?
Yes. We have been called upon many times to find further specific information for clients, including patients, doctors, researchers, and others. If you have a need for any type of medical information that may be beyond the scope of our described reports, contact us, or take a look at our Specialized Research page.
Do you provide a guarantee?
Our only guarantee is that we will do the best we can to find whatever information is available for your particular situation. If it’s out there, we and/or TWU will find it. We cannot guarantee that we will find a better treatment than the one your doctor is currently using or proposing. At the very least, you will gain peace of mind of knowing that you are apprised of all your treatment options. The continuing TWU reports will give you the assurance that you will learn about new treatment options as soon as the information becomes available.
How long have you been in business?
Cancer survivor Gary Schine founded Schine Online Services in 1994 after he found a curative treatment for his leukemia after his oncologist told him that no cure existed. Since then, we have produced several thousand treatment development reports for people with cancer and other serious illnesses throughout the world. Our TWU software app was developed in 2017 to search weekly for new treatment developments as soon as they are reported.