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Is Chemotherapy a Cure-All?

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Is Chemotherapy a Cure-All?

People receiving treatment for serious cancers may harbor false hopes for a full recovery, according to a recent study.

About 81 percent of people with advanced colorectal cancer, and 69 percent of people with advanced lung cancer believe chemotherapy treatment can cure them, say researchers from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

After surveying more than 1,200 people with end-stage cancer, study authors found only a small number of people who didn’t subscribe to the myth of chemotherapy as a cure-all.

What can chemo do?

Chemotherapy can give a person with advanced cancer a few more weeks or months of life and may offer them some pain relief. But, the likelihood of long-term survival—let alone a cure—in the later stages of these diseases is exceedingly rare.

According to figures from the American Cancer Society, only about six percent of people with late-stage colon or rectal cancer live for at least five more years. For lung cancer, that number is about four percent.

Chemotherapy isn’t always ineffective—it can be an extremely helpful treatment. When a person’s cancer is caught in the earlier stages, chemotherapy often succeeds in sending the disease into remission.

Other cancer treatment options

Optimism can be a valuable tool for coping with a difficult diagnosis, but misplaced faith in the power of medical intervention may prevent people from choosing the treatment path that’s best for them.

Chemotherapy is just one of several different types of cancer treatment. Other options include: surgery to remove malignant organs and tissues, radiation therapy, targeted therapy, immunotherapy, hyperthermia and alternative therapies.

Those with terminal cancer may also decide to forgo additional treatment for their condition, and elect to only receive palliative or hospice care.

In an editorial accompanying the Dana Farber study, Thomas Smith, M.D., professor of oncology and director of Palliative Medicine at Johns Hopkins, voiced his concerns that doctors often shy away from discussions about end-of-life planning and palliative care because doing so could steal a patient’s hope.

“What they don’t realize is that hope is impossible to extinguish,” he says. Smith feels that, no matter what the prognosis is, “Palliative care discussions can help patients focus on better quality of life.”

Continue reading to discover helpful strategies for talking to a doctor about treatment goals and preferences…

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Are You Scared to Talk to the Doctor?

The Common Myth Believed by People With Advanced Cancer originally appeared on AgingCare.com.

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Read more: Cancer, General Health, Health, Healthy Aging, , , , , ,

By Anne-Marie Botek, AgingCare.com Editor

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67 comments

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4:24PM PST on Feb 24, 2014

I don't care what negative things people say I'm alive because of chemo. I did however added to it with Pau D'arco (native American plant to boost the immune system and prayer the best thing was returning to by then young family because it gave me the determination to think positive about my Leukaemia...

4:56PM PDT on Jun 14, 2013

Cancer treatments are a big business!

11:14AM PDT on Jun 4, 2013

Often it is the adverse treatment effects of the Chemo type drug that affects health related quality of life for cancer patients. These type of drugs tend to damage cancer cells and healthy cells.

Palliative care teams include pain management, and the management of treatment related side effects for people with serious illness. Most hospitals have a Palliative Care Team in addition to Oncology team.

DaSomá is a medicinal skin cream formulated for cancer treatment induced skin damage and discomfort (dermatologic toxicity).

There are meaningful options to help ease the cancer journey.

8:50AM PDT on Jun 4, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

7:11AM PDT on Jun 4, 2013

THUMBS DOWN FOR CHEMO - I av read too much on it let nature take it's course

9:32PM PDT on May 31, 2013

noted

5:09PM PDT on May 31, 2013

:-( chemotherapy looks very tough to experience

7:24AM PDT on May 31, 2013

often it prolongs the AGONY, especially for 4th stage cancers

12:19AM PDT on May 31, 2013

I agree with Kay M.

12:49AM PDT on May 30, 2013

I would never ever agree to chemo. I have seen people suffer from it, it only prolonged their misery. For the medical profession and the big Pharma industrie it is a goldmine giving false hope.
Only God knows the plan of our life, nothing can stop this.

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