Fenbendazole is a broad-spectrum antiparasitic agent that is used to treat parasitic infections such as pinworm, giardia, hookworm, roundworm, Taenia solium, and pulmonary paragonimiasis. It is also known to have antitumor effects in colorectal cancer (CRC) cells. However, the 2020 fenbendazole scandal caused by unlicensed veterinarian videos on TikTok and Facebook, in which Joe Tippens, an alternative medicine practitioner, claims that taking fenbendazole cures his small-cell lung cancer, has drawn concern over patients obtaining and ingesting false information about complementary alternative medicine.
To understand the acquisition channel and perception of fenbendazole for cancer among patients, we conducted focus group interviews with 21 lung cancer patients. The semi-structured questionnaire included three sections: (1) the information acquisition process, (2) the quality of obtained information, and (3) the perceptions of fenbendazole for their cancer.
We found that most patients acquired fenbendazole for their CRC using online videos posted by unlicensed practitioners. Although these videos have been debunked, the videos continue to circulate on social media platforms. In vitro experiments showed that fenbendazole inhibits the proliferation of CRC cells. The antiproliferative effect of fenbendazole is related to its polymerization inhibitory effects against tubulin, which form microtubules in cells. Furthermore, fenbendazole induces apoptosis in 5-fluorouracil-resistant SNU-C5 and SNU-C5/5-FUR cells by p53-dependent and caspase-8-dependent pathways. It also triggers autophagy and ferroptosis through decreased GPX4 expression and Beclin-1 activation in these cells. Therefore, we suggest that fenbendazole may be an effective substitute for cytotoxic anticancer agents in 5-fluorouracil-resistant CRC cells. fenbendazole for cancer