Thursday, October 25, 2012

What People Know -- About Chemo

My mom has been undergoing chemo and radiation for lung cancer, so this one is kinda tough to write.  Luckily, I know she doesn't read my blog. Advanced cancer patients, a study shows, are overly optimistic about the success of chemo, which can stall, not cure, cancer (summary also here, second item). 
The study, published in the Oct. 25 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, found that 69 percent of patients with advanced lung cancer and 81 percent of patients with advanced colorectal cancer did not understand that the chemotherapy they were receiving was not at all likely to cure their disease. Their expectations run counter to the fact that although chemotherapy can alleviate pain and extend life in such patients by weeks or months, it is not a cure for these types of advanced cancer except in the rarest of circumstances.
And it gets worse.  This:
"If patients do not know whether a treatment offers a realistic possibility of cure, their ability to make informed treatment decisions that are consistent with their preferences may be compromised," says lead author Dr. Jane Weeks. "This misunderstanding may pose obstacles to optimal end-of-life planning." 
That about does it for me on this topic. A wee bit too close to home.

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