Dichloroacetate (DCA): Effective, Cheap & Accessible Drug to Fight Cancer


First, I will start this post by wishing all the readers a Happy New Year full of health for you and your family, and a lot of success in everything you do! I also like to specifically thank to Ann who was the first visitor/friend this year to post a wish to all of us on this website.

Dichloroacetate (DCA), is probably one of the first anti cancer drugs I came across when starting to search for new effective drugs that can help fight cancer. After all these years, I believe even more in the potential behind DCA. This is because, I do know personally two people/friends who benefited from DCA treatment and are alive today due to DCA. And they used no other major treatments such as chemo. One of them is a man diagnosed >10 years ago with stage IV colon cancer and the other is a man diagnosed >5 years ago with stage IV lung cancer. And both of them are alive today.

It is true, after about >5 years their cancer came back and they succeeded to manage that with various elements including 3BP. Below I also intend to shortly discuss the mechanism through which some cancers responding may become resistant to DCA and possible routes to overcome that.

DCA has been extensively discussed, investigated and used in both alternative cancer treatment and academic world. With this post, I do not intend to consolidate all the extensive research on DCA. Instead, I will make a short summary with the most relevant points I am aware of and that need to be considered when DCA is used as an anti cancer treatment. Next to this post, a lot of relevant discussions on the use of DCA can be found at the following website: http://www.thedcasite.com

DCA is a white powder, the salt version of Dichloroacetic acid. Outside the oncology field, DCA is a drug known for many decades that has been considered for treatment of lactic acidosis. (Ref.1, Ref.2) DCA as an anti-diabetic and lipid-lowering drug (Ref), with potential for treating these conditions as well as myocardial and cerebrovascular ischemia (Ref.).

While known for long time, the potential of DCA in oncology has only recently begun to receive attention after major publications from the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada where the scientists were concluding the following: “Here, we review the scientific and clinical rationale supporting the rapid translation of this promising metabolic modulator in early-phase cancer clinical trials.” (Ref.1, Ref.2), scientific publications that until today are cited by >100 other scientific publications. An explosion of press coverage followed that: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oq-oT8-2tC8https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8nTg53izwpEhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oq-oT8-2tC8; and so on …

Due to its mechanism of action DCA may be relevant to most types of cancers, including:

  • breast cancer (Ref.1, Ref.2, Ref.3)
  • colon and colorectal cancer (Ref.1, Ref.2)
  • prostate cancer (Ref.)
  • acute myeloid leukemia (Ref.)
  • oral squamous cell carcinoma (Ref.)
  • glioblastoma (Ref.)
  • Ovarian cancer (Ref.)
  • Neuroblastoma (Ref.)
  • Lung cancer (Ref.)
  • Non-Hodgkin’s Follicular Lymphoma (Ref.)
  • and most of the other cancers …

Other positive effects:

  • reduces pain in cancer (due to acidity lowering effects) (Ref.)
  • reduced massive ascites in 50% of the patients without adjuvant chemotherapy (Ref.)

That next to the fact that is a low cost, low side effects and accessible to all people, makes DCA one of the drugs that can be tried by all cancer patients.

Even more, due to its mechanism of action, DCA supports chemotheraphy and radiotheraphy (increases Reactive Oxygen Species in cancer cells and reduces acidity around the tumors) (Ref.1, Ref.2). And even more, because the acidity around the tumor is reduced, the immune system can increase its activity in those specific areas.

But as you will see if you read the rest of this post, there are some more tricks that we need to use in order to increase the chance of DCA for effectiveness against cancer.

Anecdotal stories:

See http://www.thedcasite.com/

Case reports in humans:

Long-term stabilization of stage 4 colon cancer using sodium dichloroacetate therapyhttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27803917

A case is presented in which oral DCA therapy resulted in tumour stabilization of stage 4 colon cancer in a 57 years old female for a period of nearly 4 years, with no serious toxicity. Since the natural history of stage 4 colon cancer consists of steady progression leading to disability and death, this case highlights a novel use of DCA as a cytostatic agent with a potential to maintain long-term stability of advanced-stage cancer.

A Novel Form of Dichloroacetate Therapy for Patients With Advanced Cancer: A Report of 3 Cases http://alternative-therapies.com/at/web_pdfs/s202khan.pdf

Oral dichloroacetate sodium (DCA) is currently under investigation as a single agent and as an adjuvant for treatment of various cancers. One of the factors limiting its clinical use in a continuous oral regimen is a doserelated, reversible neurotoxicity, including peripheral neuropathy and encephalopathy. The intravenous (IV) route has a number of potential advantages, including (1) pulsed dosing to achieve higher concentrations than feasible with oral use, (2) a longer washout period to reduce the potential for neurotoxicity, and (3) a bypassing of the digestive system, which is particularly significant for advanced-stage cancer patients. Data were available on high-dose IV DCA (up to 100 mg/kg/dose) that have confirmed its safety, both in healthy volunteers and in critically ill patients, allowing the authors to begin offlabel treatment of cancer patients. In several of their patients treated with IV DCA, the authors observed clinical, hematological, or radiological responses. This article presents 3 cases with patients who had recurrent cancers and for whom all conventional therapies had failed: (1) a 79-y-old male patient with colon cancer who had liver metastases, (2) a 43-y-old male patient with angiosarcoma who had pancreatic and bone metastases, and (3) a 10-y-old male patient with pancreatic neuroendocrine carcinoma who had liver metastases.

Co-treatment of dichloroacetate, omeprazole and tamoxifen exhibited synergistically antiproliferative effect on malignant tumors: in vivo experiments and a case report. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22580646?dopt=Abstract&holding=npg

DCA combined with OPZ and TAM exhibited more potent antitumor activity than DCA alone in HT1080 fibrosarcoma cells, but did not influence proliferation of WI-38 human fibroblasts. All these drugs induce caspase-dependent cell growth inhibition through superoxide production. Since they can be taken orally and have been used clinically without major side effects, it was thought that this combination therapy would be a readily translated strategy to treat malignant tumors. Under the patient’s consent these three drugs were prescribed to a 51-year old female cholangiocarcinoma patient to whom neither gemcitabine+S-1 nor adoptive immunotherapy with natural killer cells was effective. Disease progression was successfully blocked (the rise of serum CA19-9 value) for three months, also confirmed by CT.

Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Reversal with Dichloroacetate https://www.hindawi.com/journals/jo/2010/414726/

In June 2007, a 48-year-old male patient, diagnosed with Stage 4 Non-Hodgkin’s Follicular Lymphoma (NHL), was treated for 3 months with conventional chemotherapy resulting in a complete remission. Almost one year later tumors returned in the nasopharynx and neck lymph glands. Refusing all suggested chemotherapies, the patient began self-administering dichloroacetate (DCA) 900 mg daily with a PET scan showing complete remission four months later. Since his last PET scan, May, 2009, he remains tumor-free from continuous DCA usage.

Prolonged Survival After Dichloroacetate Treatment of Non-Small-Cell Lung Carcinoma-Related Leptomeningeal Carcinomatosis http://www.journalmc.org/index.php/JMC/article/view/2456/1816

Here we present an observational case report of a 49-year-old female, non-smoker, having a poor performance status with non-small-cell lung cancer and leptomeningeal carcinomatosis (LMC), who upon introduction of oral dichloroacetate (DCA) survived approximately 64 weeks (454 days) following palliative whole brain radiation without the need for chemotherapy or further targeted therapy to specifically address the LMC. To our knowledge, this is the first case report incorporating the use of DCA in LMC. Our findings are discussed in the context of previously reported applications of DCA in malignancies of the central nervous system.


For those familiar with the cellular metabolism, the mechanism behind DCA’s anti cancer effect is relatively straight forward. At least the main one as we understand today. Here is in a few words how DCA works:

Source photo: (Ref.)

  • Pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH), is a complex of enzymes that converts cytosolic pyruvate to mitochondrial acetyl-CoA, the substrate for the Krebs’ cycle.
  • However, in most cancers, another enzyme called Pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase (PDK) (a mitochondrial enzyme) is activated and results in the selective inhibition of PDH.
  • As a result, instead of entering mitochondria, because PDH is inhibited, pyruvate can not go in so that it goes further down the glycolisis (fermentation) pathway and is finally converted in lactic acid
  • DCA has the potential to inhibit PDK, so that PDH can function again
  • When PDH works, pyruvate can be processed by mitochondria, so that the cell engine produces again energy (ATP) in a normal way and not via fermentation
  • When mitochondria works it produces Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) as well. And it is known that high levels of ROS (such as H2O2) can inhibit tumor growth and result in apoptosis.
  • This is also the reason why, DCA helps chemo and radio therapy, since both of these treatment routes lead to increase of ROS. Normally, cancer cells produce a high level of anto oxidants to cope with the intracellular ROS, but once the ROS levell is to high (due to e.g. chemo and/or DCA) tumor cells will be killed.

Here are more details on how DCA works: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2567082/

Indeed, it has been shown that Dichloroacetate treatment improves mitochondrial metabolism, and the pyruvate dehydrogenase activity and the amount of acetyl-CoA in mitochondria was significantly higher after DCA treatment (Ref.)

It has also been shown that DCA induces autophagy in cancer cells accompanied by ROS production and mTOR inhibition, reduced lactate excretion, reduced k(PL) and increased NAD(+)/NADH ratio. The observed cellular and metabolic changes recover on cessation of treatment. (Ref.)

B1 vitamin and Alpha Lipoic Acid may act against cancer via similar mechanism as Dichloroacetate (Ref.1, Ref.2). However, I would not combine ALA with DCA. At least not in the IV form. Please read this comment to understand why https://www.cancertreatmentsresearch.com/dichloroacetate-dca-treatment-strategy/#comment-4502

As discussed shortly above cancer cells may become resistant to DCA. Two of the major reasons for resistance (and how to address them) are discussed in the next section below. Another reason for Resistance suggested by some of the most relevant scientist in the field may be the fact that in time, due to increase alkalinity of cancer cell, mitochondria may become totally dysfunctional or non-existent, in which case no matter how much DCA we would use, there will be no way for it to work (Ref: private communications).

Even when DCA can not effectively activate oxidative respiration via the mechanism described above, it may be able to kill cancer cells via a different mechanism that leads to accumulation inside the cytoplasm of high levels of citrate which in turn leads to the inhibition of glycolysis and inactivation of P-glycoprotein (Ref.). Inactivation of P-glycoprotein means that the cancer cells will not be able to push out chemotherapy and as a result, this also means that DCA can nicely support chemotherapy. Having this mechanism in mind, we can also argue that DCA theraphy works hand in hand with the Citric Acid therapy I discussed in another post: Citric Acid

How to increase the chance DCA will do its job? This is the most interesting part of the post to me.

Transport of DCA inside the cancer cells is essential … and not always there:

Dichloroacetate-induced apoptosis in cancer cells requires sodium-coupled monocarboxylates transporter SLC5A8 (SMCT1).  If the transporter is not expressed, cells may not accumulate the compound to levels sufficient enough to cause apoptosis. (Ref.)

Note that SMCT1 is the same transporter that is required for the anti-cancer effects of Butyrate supplements or Pyruvate.

However, SMCT1 it is epigenetically silenced in most tumour cells (Ref.), which could explain why high DCA concentrations should be used to achieve cytotoxicity in cancer cells. So, this is the reason why DCA doesn’t work for all cancers or if it works it is required at a high dose.

So the question is, how to reactivate SLC5A8 when that is inactive? Inhibitors of DNA methylation induce reactivation of SLC5A8. (Ref.) This means we need Inhibitors of DNA methylation. Fortunately, procaine is a DNA-demethylating agent with growth-inhibitory effects in human cancer cells. (Ref.) This is great, since procaine is accessible (easy to find in German pharmacies), cheap and safe. Procaine is used in alternative cancer treatment clinics in combination with Natrium Bicarbonate IVs and is also the main component in the well known anti aging drug Gerovital.

Now it becomes very interesting to me. I just found this paper stating the following “Knowledge on the regulation of SMCT1 at the intestinal level is very scarce. SMCT1 has been found to be inhibited by some NSAIDs (ibuprofen, ketoprofen, fenoprofen, naproxen and indomethacin), phytochemicals (resveratrol and quercetin), TNF-α, oxidative stress, chenodeoxycholic acid and by the absence of gut commensal bacteria. On the contrary, SMCT1 was found to be stimulated by some other NSAIDs (diclofenac, meclofenamate and sulindac), by activin A and by the probiotic Lactobacillus plantarum.” (Ref.)

Why is this so interesting to me? That is because the paper indicates that Diclofenac increases SMCT1 … and here is a funny story: My friend, stage IV cancer patient that saw his lung cancer gone when using DCA, once said to me that long time ago he had so much pain from his cancer … but he did not wanted to take Morphine. Instead, he used a lot of Diclofenac. I remember he said he took so much Diclofenac every day, like candies. And this was probably the key for such a good response to DCA he had. Unfortunately, not everyone can take a lot of Diclofenac due to the side effects related to the stomach, known to be characteristic to NSAIDs.

As you can see from above, Quercetin, Resveratrol and Ibuprofen should be avoided while on DCA.

It has been previously shown that Sulindac can indeed support DCA treatment, but the mechanism was explained in a different way (Ref.). However, possibly the main reason for the synergy between the two is actually explained above.

Not only transporters but also GSTZ1 expression and chloride concentrations are relevant for DCA effectivness:

Here is a paper published in 2016 that I find very relevant for understanding how to further improve DCA effectivness: “GSTZ1 expression and chloride concentrations modulate sensitivity of cancer cells to dichloroacetate” (Ref.). This paper indicates the following.

  • DCA is metabolized in the liver by the glutathione transferase zeta 1 enzyme (GSTZ1)
  • During metabolism of DCA, a portion of the GSTZ1 can be irreversibly inhibited by DCA
    slowing the clearance of subsequent doses of DCA
  • However, chloride anions can inhibit DCA-induced GSTZ1 inactivation
  • Some cancer cells (such as in breast cancer) over express GSTZ1 and confer resistance to the anti cancer effects of DCA
  • In addition in tumors chloride anions level is often abnormally high compared to the surrounding tissue
  • On this line, if the tumor expresses GSTZ1 and contains a high chloride anions level, the GSTZ1 will be stable, maintaining the resistance to DCA
  • As a result, co-treatment with compounds to reduce GSTZ1 expression or chloride anions level will reduce the resistance to DCA

This means that now we are in search for GSTZ1 an/or chloride anion trasnport inhibitors. Here are a few of those:

Well, now I understand why previous studies have shown synergy between DCA and Omeprazole (Ref.1, Ref.2). But this mechanism was not known in those studies.

On the other hand Bromide, iodide and sulfite also protected GSTZ1 from inactivation by DCA (Ref.). So we want to avoid them. Same counts for Quercetin that may increase chloride anion level in the cytosol (Ref.). Thus, while Quercetin has its own anti cancer effects, when using DCA is good to avoid its use.

Safety and Toxicity:

DCA can cause a reversible peripheral neuropathy that may be related to thiamine deficiency and may be ameliorated or prevented with thiamine supplementation. This is the main potential side effect.
In the majority of patients using it, DCA is well tolerated. Side effects are mild but can include fatigue, confusion, memory loss, sedation, tremors, hallucination, agitation, depression, heartburn (oral), and nausea (oral) (Ref.)
DCA is metabolized in the liver and as a result caution is required when administering DCA in cases of compromised liver function.


Absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract and less than 1% of the total given dose is excreted in the urine; Metabolism of DCA occurs in the liver; DCA inhibits its own metabolism resulting in slower clearance from the body after multiple doses, which increases the potential for toxic effects; Although the halflife with the initial dose is less than one hour, this half-life increases to several hours with successive doses. There appears to be a plateau of this effect and DCA serum levels do not continue to rise with ongoing use (Ref.).


Oral administration:

  • Start with 10mg/kg/day and increase slowly to about 25mg/kg/day (others are going to higher doses but I prefer safety instead – 25mg/kg/day is well tolerated (Ref.)). If neurophathy is emerging, reduce the dose slightly to below that level where it occurred. Here you can calculate the dosage depending on your weight http://www.thedcasite.com/dca_dosage.html
  • Use half of the dose in the morning and half in the evening
  • To avoid neurophathy use DCA during 5days/week and stop for the other two (others are using 2 weeks ON and one week OFF scheme)
    Update 12-March-2017: According to this article (Ref.) it is best to use the two weeks On and one week off scheme.
  • Use DCA until no evidence of disease
  • Preferably to drink by mixing the powder from capsule in water: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EbLqAFD7HaI. This is for better absorption.

IV administration

  • Up to 100mg/kg can be well tolerated (Ref.) I would however never jump to that high dose and start from 20mg/kg and best stop around max 70mg/kg max (Ref.). We used this dose with no issues but others may react differently.
  • Injected in 250ml NaCl bag, administered during 45 to 60 min
  • Administered 2x/week

DCA effect is dose dependent but there is a saturation level beyond which increasing the dose has no extra benefit (Ref.).

Additions to increase effectiveness or address potential side effects:

  • Caffeine: anecdotally, caffeine would increase effectiveness – I do not understand the mechanism behind this other than improving the micro vessel circulation
  • B1 Vitamine (thiamine) to reduce chance for neurophaty – some take 500mg/day, others up to 2500mg/day (Ref.). In addition B1 vitamin has its own anti cancer effect similar to that of DCA (Ref.1)
  • Procaine, Diclofenac or Sulindac to increase SMCT1  (see above)
  • Omeprazole 80mg/day to increase DCA effectiveness (see above)
  • Scorpion venom to increase DCA effectiveness (see above)
  • Metformin 1000mg to 1500mg/day (see above)


Buyers should be aware that some companies may be selling fake DCA. One owner of a web-based company has already been convicted of internet fraud for selling counterfeit DCA http://www.cbc.ca/news/story/2010/06/01/con-dca-gaber.html As a result take care where you are ordering your DCA. One reader of this website (Emad) seeing positive results with his mom while using DCA and chemo wrote the following: “I tried this www.puredca.com, and this www.dcalab.com but the best results i had is when using this one www.dcacancer.org“.

IV form can be purchased from compounding pharmacies such as those listed here https://www.cancertreatmentsresearch.com/?page_id=945. However, it may be too expensive compared to the self made version. Because DCA is water soluble it can be easily prepared in IV form in the same way as 3BP (see 3BP IV section here https://www.cancertreatmentsresearch.com/?p=47). Depending on the dose used, self made version will cost <10 euro / dose.


Role of SLC5A8, a plasma membrane transporter and a tumor suppressor, in the antitumor activity of dichloroacetate. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=SLC5A8+dca

There has been growing interest among the public and scientists in dichloroacetate (DCA) as a potential anticancer drug. Credible evidence exists for the antitumor activity of this compound, but high concentrations are needed for significant therapeutic effect. Unfortunately, these high concentrations produce detrimental side effects involving the nervous system, thereby precluding its use for cancer treatment. The mechanistic basis of the compound’s antitumor activity is its ability to activate the pyruvate dehydrogenase complex through inhibition of pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase. As the compound inhibits the kinase at micromolar concentrations, it is not known why therapeutically prohibitive high doses are needed for suppression of tumor growth. We hypothesized that lack of effective mechanisms for the entry of DCA into tumor cells may underlie this phenomenon. Here we show that SLC5A8 transports DCA very effectively with high affinity. This transporter is expressed in normal cells, but expression is silenced in tumor cells by epigenetic mechanisms. The lack of the transporter makes tumor cells resistant to the antitumor activity of DCA. However, if the transporter is expressed in tumor cells ectopically, the cells become sensitive to the drug at low concentrations. This is evident in breast cancer cells, colon cancer cells and prostate cancer cells. Normal cells, which constitutively express the transporter, are however not affected by the compound, indicating tumor cell-selective therapeutic activity. The mechanism of the compound’s antitumor activity still remains its ability to inhibit pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase and force mitochondrial oxidation of pyruvate. As silencing of SLC5A8 in tumors involves DNA methylation and its expression can be induced by treatment with DNA methylation inhibitors, our findings suggest that combining DCA with a DNA methylation inhibitor would offer a means to reduce the doses of DCA to avoid detrimental effects associated with high doses but without compromising antitumor activity.

A mitochondria-K+ channel axis is suppressed in cancer and its normalization promotes apoptosis and inhibits cancer growth. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17222789

The unique metabolic profile of cancer (aerobic glycolysis) might confer apoptosis resistance and be therapeutically targeted. Compared to normal cells, several human cancers have high mitochondrial membrane potential (DeltaPsim) and low expression of the K+ channel Kv1.5, both contributing to apoptosis resistance. Dichloroacetate (DCA) inhibits mitochondrial pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase (PDK), shifts metabolism from glycolysis to glucose oxidation, decreases DeltaPsim, increases mitochondrial H2O2, and activates Kv channels in all cancer, but not normal, cells; DCA upregulates Kv1.5 by an NFAT1-dependent mechanism. DCA induces apoptosis, decreases proliferation, and inhibits tumor growth, without apparent toxicity. Molecular inhibition of PDK2 by siRNA mimics DCA. The mitochondria-NFAT-Kv axis and PDK are important therapeutic targets in cancer; the orally available DCA is a promising selective anticancer agent.

Differential inhibition of PDKs by phenylbutyrate and enhancement of pyruvate dehydrogenase complex activity by combination with dichloroacetate http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10545-014-9808-2/fulltext.html

Pyruvate dehydrogenase complex (PDHC) is a key enzyme in metabolism linking glycolysis to tricarboxylic acid cycle and its activity is tightly regulated by phosphorylation catalyzed by four pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase (PDK) isoforms. PDKs are pharmacological targets for several human diseases including cancer, diabetes, obesity, heart failure, and inherited PDHC deficiency. We investigated the inhibitory activity of phenylbutyrate toward PDKs and found that PDK isoforms 1-to-3 are inhibited whereas PDK4 is unaffected. Moreover, docking studies revealed putative binding sites of phenylbutyrate on PDK2 and 3 that are located on different sites compared to dichloroacetate (DCA), a previously known PDK inhibitor. Based on these findings, we showed both in cells and in mice that phenylbutyrate combined to DCA results in greater increase of PDHC activity compared to each drug alone. These results suggest that therapeutic efficacy can be enhanced by combination of drugs increasing PDHC enzyme activity.

Metabolic plasticity in cancer cells : involvement in the processes of proliferation and response to radiotherapy http://dial.uclouvain.be/handle/boreal:171100 http://dial.uclouvain.be/downloader/downloader.php?pid=boreal:171100&datastream=PDF_01

While pioneering studies suggested that enhanced glycolysis, a hallmark of cancer, was caused by an irreversible impairment in mitochondrial respiration, more recent data reported functional mitochondrial activity in many cancer cells. In this thesis, we thus intended to investigate whether metabolic modulations could improve the therapeutic outcome of cancer. We found that dichloroacetate, a new clinically tested compound, induced a switch of glycolytic cancer cells to a more oxidative phenotype, and decreased tumor cell proliferation through a decrease in the activity of the pentose phosphate pathway. In a second part of this work, we investigated whether targeting mitochondrial respiration with H2S, the last gaseous transmitter identified in mammals, improved tumor response to radiotherapy. By rapidly alleviating hypoxia inside solid tumors, the single injection of a H2S donor increased the radioresponse of cancer in mice. Overall, our thesis work emphasizes the ability of cancer cells to remodel their energetic metabolism in response to external stimuli and supports that both glycolysis and oxidative phosphorylation are attractive targets for cancer therapy.

Metabolic Modulation of Glioblastoma with Dichloroacetate http://stm.sciencemag.org/content/2/31/31ra34.abstract

Solid tumors, including the aggressive primary brain cancer glioblastoma multiforme, develop resistance to cell death, in part as a result of a switch from mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation to cytoplasmic glycolysis. This metabolic remodeling is accompanied by mitochondrial hyperpolarization. We tested whether the small-molecule and orphan drug dichloroacetate (DCA) can reverse this cancer-specific metabolic and mitochondrial remodeling in glioblastoma. Freshly isolated glioblastomas from 49 patients showed mitochondrial hyperpolarization, which was rapidly reversed by DCA. In a separate experiment with five patients who had glioblastoma, we prospectively secured baseline and serial tumor tissue, developed patient-specific cell lines of glioblastoma and putative glioblastoma stem cells (CD133+, nestin+ cells), and treated each patient with oral DCA for up to 15 months. DCA depolarized mitochondria, increased mitochondrial reactive oxygen species, and induced apoptosis in GBM cells, as well as in putative GBM stem cells, both in vitro and in vivo. DCA therapy also inhibited the hypoxia-inducible factor–1α, promoted p53 activation, and suppressed angiogenesis both in vivo and in vitro. The dose-limiting toxicity was a dose-dependent, reversible peripheral neuropathy, and there was no hematologic, hepatic, renal, or cardiac toxicity. Indications of clinical efficacy were present at a dose that did not cause peripheral neuropathy and at serum concentrations of DCA sufficient to inhibit the target enzyme of DCA, pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase II, which was highly expressed in all glioblastomas. Metabolic modulation may be a viable therapeutic approach in the treatment of glioblastoma.

Dichloroacetate and cancer: New home for an orphan drug? http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25157892

We reviewed the anti-cancer effects of DCA, an orphan drug long used as an investigational treatment for various acquired and congenital disorders of mitochondrial intermediary metabolism. Inhibition by DCA of mitochondrial pyruvate dehydrogenase kinases and subsequent reactivation of the pyruvate dehydrogenase complex and oxidative phosphorylation is the common mechanism accounting for the drug’s anti-neoplastic effects. At least two fundamental changes in tumor metabolism are induced by DCA that antagonize tumor growth, metastases and survival: the first is the redirection of glucose metabolism from glycolysis to oxidation (reversal of the Warburg effect), leading to inhibition of proliferation and induction of caspase-mediated apoptosis. These effects have been replicated in both human cancer cell lines and in tumor implants of diverse germ line origin. The second fundamental change is the oxidative removal of lactate, via pyruvate, and the co-incident buffering of hydrogen ions by dehydrogenases located in the mitochondrial matrix. Preclinical studies demonstrate that DCA has additive or synergistic effects when used in combination with standard agents designed to modify tumor oxidative stress, vascular remodeling, DNA integrity or immunity. These findings and limited clinical results suggest that potentially fruitful areas for additional clinical trials include 1) adult and pediatric high grade astrocytomas; 2) BRAF-mutant cancers, such as melanoma, perhaps combined with other pro-oxidants; 3) in which resistance to standard platinum-class drugs alone may be overcome with combination therapy; and 4) tumors of endodermal origin, in which extensive experimental research has demonstrated significant anti-proliferative, pro-apoptotic effects of DCA, leading to improved host survival.

Sensitization of breast cancer cells to paclitaxel by dichloroacetate through inhibiting autophagy http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006291X17309786

Chemotherapy is still the main adjuvant strategy in the treatment of cancer, however, chemoresistance is also frequently encountered. Autophagy inhibition has been widely accepted as a promising therapeutic strategy in cancer, while the lack of effective and specific autophagy inhibitors hinders its application. Here we found that dichloroacetate (DCA), a small molecule compound, could significantly inhibit the autophagy induced by Doxorubicin in breast cancer cells. And DCA markedly enhances Doxorubicin-induced breast cancer cell death and anti-proliferation in vitro. But the sensitization to Dox of DCA was significantly reduced through induction of autophagy by rapamycin. Moreover, the combined therapy of Dox and DCA could significantly inhibit tumor growth in vivo and prolong mouse survival time. Taken together, we demonstrate that DCA could inhibit doxorubicin-inducing autophagy and provide a novel strategy for improving the anti-cancer efficacy of chemotherapy.


This site is not designed to and does not provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion, treatment or services to you or to any other individual. Through this site and linkages to other sites, I provide general information for educational purposes only. The information provided in this site, or through linkages to other sites, is not a substitute for medical or professional care, and you should not use the information in place of a visit, call consultation or the advice of your physician or other healthcare provider. I am not liable or responsible for any advice, course of treatment, diagnosis or any other information, services or product you obtain through this site. This is just my own personal opinion regarding what we have learned on this road.

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358 Comments on "Dichloroacetate (DCA): Effective, Cheap & Accessible Drug to Fight Cancer"

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What of a combination of DCA with LDN?


I wanted to use it before , until now I didn’t find any information about possible interference between both of them

not sure really

Thanks Emad I found it interesting, and it offers hope?! Yet another “thing” on a growing list. So far there are MANY things that are scientifically backed more or less to be anti-cancer by some way of doing so. The questions that come to me now are, how many should be incorporated? As many as possible right? Would the disease have a chance to progress? Very slim it looks to me. So i think that perhaps we should make a BIG list of everything we read, heard about and try to put together the strongest most effective treatment, but first… Read more »

hey Alex,
looking at how LDN is supposed to work, i dont think there is any interference with DCA.


Thank you very much


Emad, glad I found you here, I have been thinking about you.

Brain mets!
There are so many things to be worried about and brain mets are another to add to the list.
Brain mets would probably even top the biomarkers in terms of importance.

After reading about POH and the success they have had with brain mets, it might be a good idea to have them on a shelf.
Perhaps you could ask Medicor about them, see if they have the combo of POH and temzo or others.
This POH angle might even be a good one to try preventatively.

Best Wishes

Reporting in on DCA. It would seem that my mom’s response to DCA is good. Perhaps too good. As pain levels only lower with DCA dose lowering. I sense a major risk so we will lower to 1500mg/day. This is to prevent any possible short/long term issues, heart attack, stroke etc. The other pills and things she takes and does only worsen the pain instead of making it go away as they once did. I attribute the response this time after 1 week of DCA at 2000mg/day to removing Citric Acid and chance… if there’s such a thing. Lacking any… Read more »

Did a bit of testing from day to day. Now that she didn’t take her Diner time DCA, she still feels great pain but not like yesterday.
Obviously if this is true that the pain is caused by an impressive response to DCA, the dose should be lowered in order to also lower the risks involved with tumor shrinkage. (being optimistic here – no tests made yet – tests may also prove inconclusive).
I am glad that you also find this interesting.
Many Thanks


Hi Alex

my mother had some pain when she started on DCA for the first 2 weeks , at that time she had a very very good respond to the chemo + DCA combination


Very interesting this association of pain, good response, results.
Perhaps returning in some way to those same conditions and sustaining it, may bring consistent results once more.
Thank you


hi Alex

i stopped DCA for a few days now and my back pain is clearly better. might be a coincidence. 🙂


Has someone readed about this ? Both of them under hipoxic condition:


La différence entre DCA et ALA c’est que DCA augmente la production de ROS déjà surexprimé dans les cellules cancéreuses, comme la chimiotherapie pour déclencher soit l’apoptose, l’autophagie ou la nécrose des cellules cancéreuses. ALA au contraire aura tendance à ramener la production de ROS à son seuil normal comme dans une cellule saine, avec donc déclenchement d’apoptose si la cellule détecte une corruption de son DNA. En fait la surproduction de ROS , au premier palier va entraîner une corruption de DNA (état cancéreux), au palier suivant on a l’apoptose, puis l’autophagie et ensuite la nécrose. Donc avec la… Read more »

thanks Malypaet. where is this text coming from? from you?
if this is true these 2 compounds are not synergistic at all…


Merci malypaet.

Hi Daniel, I have advanced ovarian cancer. I had carboplatin treatment late last year, but became resistant half way through. My CA125 came down to 90 (from 3500) but now it is back up again and I am being offered weekly Taxol and Avastin which I am considering. I have been taking LDN, DCA, Metformin and Lovastatin for a few months, but it doesn’t seem to have worked. I have also been taking ibuprofen and quercetin at night but I have read on your site that is wrong – plus HBOT. Can you tell me what drugs you think I… Read more »

Hi Hectoria,

I remember ovca was mentioned as a responder to low dose naltrexone. I also remember that dca resentizes cells to cisplatin and carbopl.


Reporting that we have restarted the dca focused treatment after about 3 days of break
During that 3 days interval, the pain levels dropped significantly overall.
Now that we restarted, levels went up again, diclofenac is able to kill the pain, not unlike the recent past when it did “nothing”.
the thing on my mother’s arm is changing from day to day in size less,but in fullness the most, hard, soft.


Reporting in.
Marker values are increased sadly.
However the rate of growth is decreased. About 50% slower.
Pain persists and diclofenac works to take it away.


Our first Neuropathy day has come. That took a while. DCA was restarted on the 24’th last month.
We decided in the past that if cancer doesn’t take a break, we shouldn’t take one when treating it.


It would seem cancertutor has an article about DCA now.
Not sure how long it’s been there but the site seems to catch up.
I hope this comment will swing some of their reader’s attention here where i feel there’s much more value to have and offer.

As for me and my mother….. i hate to complain in here. We are down in too many ways.
Decided to flip the coin to anti-oxidants in hope of reducing neuropathy and inflamation
Fish oil, Germanium. Apigenin, Resveratrol, ALA, Ginger, etc…….
Endless thanks,

Dear Alex, How about trying Artemisia again? You said your mom tried it as a tea but it appears from Daniel’s article that hot water seems to destroy the effect. My mother now just soaks the dried leaves in lukewarm water. She says the drink is quite bitter so it must be working. Also, you could make the “Avemar” very easily, by adding yeast to dried wheat germ (if you can buy that at the local supermarket, very cheaply) and water and ferment it in some warm place. Avemar is known to work for cancer! Are you going for the… Read more »

have you seen my comment re egfg inhibitors working even for lepto??


i have but that price…. those side effects…..


Alex, how are things ?

Very bad sadly. I’m changing diapers…. getting ready to be a successful dad and husband, for when i actually get to not be single. Still i hope for better. My mothers appetite returned today, I’m going with anti-oxidant detox supliments Just did her first B1 Vitamin shot, looking forward for her to be able to walk again. Still fairly confident it’s from the DCA and optimist a bit. DCA side effects -> Be afraid, be very afraid!!! We have it stopped since the 24’th-6th-2017 It looks like i know more things than my family doctor……. in experimental oncology anyway. Went… Read more »


Can I suggest “drinking” the calories when the appetite isn’t there?

If you’re following a keto diet, fats are extremely high in energy content. One tablespoon of olive oil (or most other kinds of oil) contain 100 calories of basically 100% fat. If you can mix it into a smoothie with some peanut butter (mostly fat, also 100 calories per tbsp), and maybe almond milk and a few raspberries, it won’t taste horrible and it might be a way to improve her energy and nutrition.


Thank you dear Meech,
These days i don’t know what to focus more on. I’ll try to keep her hidrated, nourished and i hope to somehow be able to get her on her feet once more as a priority, because without that, i fear we won’t be making much progress at all.
Thank you very much for everything,


What is it that’s keeping her off her feet? Pain, exhaustion, blood pressure, or physical disability?


neuropathy, unable to control the legs



Alexi hope its just from DCA. try take b1 and alpha lipoic Acid, both of these are improving nerve issues induced by medications and would do no harm.


my mother did feel the same 12 months ago

a very bad neuropathy that made her so hard to stand or move , she was barely walking at that time

but the doctor used to medically treat her , and after a while , she begin to walk and move easier again

it took sometime , its not a problem that we can solve in just days


Sorry to hear that, Alex. Hope you can keep the spirits up.


Alex , when is the next CT Scan ?

My heart is with you man , you should always feel positive

wish you a happy life

Thank you very much. Sadly i don’t know when we can go for a new scan with my mother fixed to the bed. We had that schedduled for yesterday. i must first help her get out of it. B1 vitamin, very uncertain.. her feet swelled up instead of getting better I wish i knew what the solution is. Neuropathy persists in her fingers too………….. She can’t get out of bed without me helping At this point i’m clueless. Got a house full of meds and nothing seems to do much good. Her spirit is very low as is mine and… Read more »
hi Alex, i dont know your budget after so many drugs and supplements but below site offers the drug at a reasonable price. Please mind that i have never ordered anything from them so i dont know if they are reliable. They say the are US based but I i suspect they are from India with just a US domain as they answer in their online chat in an “indian way” ( i recognise their grammar mistakes as i worked with indians) and they admit that the drugs are from india. I checked on scamadviser and there were no reviews.… Read more »
Guys, checking in. My tumor marker AFP decreased from 4 to 3.3 since starting DCA in March. Both normal (<7) but i like the change. Of couse i dont say its attributable to what i take but 2 months after chemo it was still 5-6. No sign-of tumor on CT. Neuro symptoms & back pain still there but milder than in March when i started taking below supplements / drugs. Doctors still dont know why i have these, i am arranging another Lyme test after the first one in September. Still thinking it might be cancer as i never had… Read more »

Good to hear that W , I’m happy to hear that 🙂


auto corr; *chemo should NOT affect CNS


Cheers W.
Great news!


Are you still on both citric acid+DCA?


Yes, I know there were some concerns on the compatibility but I have the feeling (subjective i know but how could i verify?:..) that both help. Even if they are counteracting in one aspect there might be other ones in which they are complementary .. for example following link claims that DCA restores Citrid Acid levels in cancer cells making them more vulnerable to chemo and apoptosis;


i can say that we did ca and dca,
sadly there was no change with them together.
There was a small change with just dca.


hi Alex,

when i stopped CA for a few weeks i noticed a pain increase. Then I restarted and it was weaker again. Now im ok. Maybe it is not related but i decided to keep CA.
I also noticed that anti inflammative supplements like garlic and curcumin make me feel better.
I really dont know anymore what s happening.


I would suggest that inflamation is an effect of DCA actually working. That was when diclofenac was effective in stopping the pain.
when we did both, DCA did “nothing”.
Obviously you should do what you feel is best, but i would check markers and increase rate/day to be able to somewhat determine if the combinations are indeed effective.
Always great to hear good news.


Hi. I got my mom diagnosed w stage IV pancreatic ca. a month ago. Started IV Dca treatment two weeks ago. Very optimistic. We are not.doing convencional tx due to poor prognosis of the same treatment. Also started with strict keto diet combined with 10% quemo. I found one clinic in us to administer iv dca. Wondering if there might be other locations in us that will provide iv dca?

Hey, Ramiro. Unfortunately, Medicor and a couple of South American clinics are the only ones who provide I/V DCA therapy as far as I know. You could also just search for “DCA” on amazon, order it, make the I/V bags with the solution yourself. I know it’s not wise to advise something that should be done on medical supervision but there is plenty of information how to make I/V infusions by yourself. Clinics will administer I/V DCA and charge quite a sum for it, so your only bet is to try administer I/V DCA yourself. The biggest problem is that… Read more »

Not sure about iv DCA locations in us, medicor in Canada i know of.
Re pancreatic please read about dr berkson and his protocol too.

Dear Friends. Some time has passed now and i’ve long pondered. Still very uncertain but will finally write about it. I strongly believe that DCA was doing it’s thing for mother, however due to the location of the tumor, when the tumor was decaying the immune system began to swell the area, causing inflammation in response to the “foreign” tissue. This description of what i believe happened may be inacurate, still i see the swell on her spine scan and the cord is “pumped” in that specific area where it comes in contact with the tumor, it is my honest… Read more »

Hi Guys,

Can someone please direct me to a reliable source to buy DCA? there are many websites that sell it but not sure if they these websites are genuine or the stuff they are selling is actually DCA instead of just white powder. Thank you so much in advance.
I live in New Zealand by the way.


Hi Hasan
I ordered from here : https://pharma-dca.com/buy_dca/
if i remember well, it came from the UK. it was posted right after my transfer.
it was definitely DCA ( i can not test purity of course…)
the price is lower than other sources that i have found.
good luck.


My dog who’s 8yrs old has lymphoma. His sister passed away last year from lymphoma after failed success with chemo.
I have him on DCA and LDN adding B1/Benfotiamine as needed. I don’t have access to Metformin, but understand that Berberine is very similar.
Would Berberine have a similar effect as Metformin in increasing the effectiveness of DCA?
Would there be an added benefit of including Omeprazole as that’s readily available?
This post has been very helpful, thank you all for contributing.


Dear msforr,
Please search for this.
Also i know people using it here,and waiting for the results.But i heard that it works petfect on dogs.
Kind regards


DCA makes colon cancer worse: https://goo.gl/pzLYR3

3BP have not such problem. I don’t know if there is more stable alternative.