Navigation Links
Many Terminal Cancer Patients Put False Hope in Chemo, Study Finds
Date:10/25/2012

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Many people with incurable cancer mistakenly believe chemotherapy may save them, a new study finds.

Researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston found that more than 80 percent of people with advanced colon cancer and nearly 70 percent with advanced lung cancer thought chemo could cure their disease. In reality, chemo might give them several more months of life or ease troubling symptoms, but it rarely offers a cure for these diseases once they've spread to distant sites in the body.

"It's really easy for people to have expectations that aren't well aligned with reality," said the study's senior author, Dr. Deborah Schrag, an attending physician in adult oncology at Dana-Farber. "They want to be the one to beat the cancer. And, doctors want to be helpful. We want to be positive.

"What's clear," she added, "is that whatever we're doing right now, we need to change."

These misunderstandings may keep patients from making informed treatment decisions and preparing for death, say the study authors.

The study, published Oct. 25 in the New England Journal of Medicine, included almost 1,200 people who were part of the larger Cancer Care Outcomes Research and Surveillance study. The study volunteers were surveyed about four months after their diagnosis with advanced lung or colon cancer -- cancer that had spread to other areas of their body (metastasized). Almost all were receiving chemotherapy.

Overall, 69 percent of the lung cancer patients and 81 percent with colon cancer reported unrealistic expectations about the likelihood that their chemotherapy might cure them.

People with colon cancer were more likely to believe that chemo might provide a cure, and blacks and Hispanics were significantly more likely to think that.

Patients who reported having favorable communication with their doctor were also more likely than others to expect a cure, the investigators found.

"You've been dealt a bad hand and, as your doctors, we want to help you cope," said Schrag. "But we may be robbing people of the opportunity to prioritize and make plans for what's important to them. We need to walk a fine line and have our patients hope for what's possible, but plan for what's probable."

Doctors also have to expect their popularity may drop in the face of truthful conversations, the study authors noted.

The co-author of an accompanying editorial, Dr. Thomas J. Smith, said what really matters is what people understand about their disease. "As long as these people are still planning for the worst, it's wonderful if they can be hoping for the best," he said.

Smith, director of palliative medicine at Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, said that oncologists often need to change the way they deliver information to help people better understand what they can expect to happen.

"Oncologists like me are pretty good at saying to someone with lung cancer, 'This is something we can't cure.' But, that's very different than saying, 'What do you want to know about your disease?' or 'What do you understand about your disease?'" he said.

Smith said it's also important to have these types of discussions several times during the illness, and when someone has between three and six months left to live, it's important to discuss hospice care.

Misguided expectations also burden taxpayers. One-quarter of Medicare funds -- the U.S. insurance program for the elderly -- are spent in the year before death, in part because of late-stage chemotherapy, the editorialists noted.

"Chemotherapy can help ease symptoms, and some chemotherapy may extend life, but at some point chemotherapy can do you more harm than good," Smith said.

Schrage added, "It's important to know that chemotherapy is helpful and valuable. It's not worthless by any means. But, hopefully patients will feel empowered to ask, 'How will this help me?' and 'What is realistic for me to expect?'"

She said it's also very helpful to bring someone to your doctor's appointment, because it's often hard to focus on what the doctor is saying after you've been given difficult, life-altering news.

More information

There's more on chemotherapy at the American Cancer Society.

SOURCES: Deborah Schrag, M.D., M.P.H., attending physician, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston; Thomas J. Smith, M.D., Harry J. Duffey Family Professor of Palliative Medicine, Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, Baltimore; Oct. 25, 2012, New England Journal of Medicine


'/>"/>
Copyright©2012 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved  

Related medicine news :

1. Gene mutation identifies colorectal cancer patients who live longer with aspirin therapy
2. First web-based prostate cancer database launches
3. Lactation protein suppresses tumors and metastasis in breast cancer
4. Simple ovarian cancer symptom survey that checks for 6 warning signs may improve early detection
5. Cancer Portrayed Too Grimly in Movies, Study Suggests
6. Key immune cell may play role in lung cancer susceptibility
7. Lab Contamination Behind Debunked Link Between Virus, Prostate Cancer
8. UT MD Anderson Cancer Center launches unprecedented Moon Shots Program
9. Taming physical forces that block cancer treatment
10. Poorer Patients Find Thyroid Cancer at Later Stage: Study
11. Pinpointing genes that control breast cancer key in finding treatments
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Many Terminal Cancer Patients Put False Hope in Chemo, Study Finds 
(Date:4/29/2016)... ... 29, 2016 , ... Coalition Duchenne, a Newport Beach, California ... Duchenne research, participated in the April 25 U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory ... The meeting at the Marriott Conference Center in Hyattsville, Maryland was attended by ...
(Date:4/29/2016)... ... ... Yisrayl Hawkins, Pastor and Overseer at The House of Yahweh in Abilene, Texas, ... is time to set the record straight. Traditionally, BC and AD has been referred ... true and offers explanation. , “To start with, the Name of the Savior has ...
(Date:4/28/2016)... St. Petersburg, FL (PRWEB) , ... April 29, 2016 , ... Sublime Beauty® is offering ... of the same product) for 50% off. The discount is applied to the product with ... box is given to those who purchase $250 or more in products. , "So many ...
(Date:4/28/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... April 28, 2016 , ... ... accessories, is proud to partner with AquaShieldUSA, the country's oldest waterproof cast ... clinic and medical supply stores, the largest selection of daily, night, weatherproof and ...
(Date:4/28/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... April 28, 2016 , ... Cosmetic Town, ... website, cosmetictown.com . The forum section was recently revamped and upgraded to allow ... surgical techniques in use across the country. , According to the senior editor of ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:4/29/2016)... 2016 Automation is one of ... to the growing demands for productivity in speed, accuracy, ... systems are already adept of a wide range of ... manual labor. Instrumentation continues to evolve, and is poised ... a few years ago. Originally used mostly by the ...
(Date:4/28/2016)... , April 28, 2016 ... George Phillips und Stephen ...    ArisGlobal®, ein führender Anbieter ... gab heute bekannt, dass neue Führungskräfte zum ... gestoßen sind, die vielfältige Erfahrungen mitbringen.  Dies ...
(Date:4/28/2016)... Oramed Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: ORMP ) ... development of oral drug delivery systems, announced today that the ... by Joseph Gunnar & Co. LLC, taking place ... . Nadav Kidron , CEO of Oramed, will present ... Details:   PIONEERS 2016, presented by Joseph ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: