Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Overtreatment issues

There is new evidence that the risk of leukemia after breast cancer treatment is double what previously thought to be. It was stated at 0.25% but new research shows it is more like 0.5% and the risk continues for ten years, not slowing down after five. So the new advice is not to treat with stage 1 cancers with just in case chemotherapy or radiation give that the risk is doubled.

In addition, while the new recommendations for radiation are to cut back from the usual five to seven weeks to three weeks for early stage cancers, many doctors are not making the change. The benefits are in cost savings, fewer side effects, and improved quality of life for the patients. (From the patient's perspective (me) the biggest problem with radiation is having to go EVERY day for week upon week.) Many doctors and patients seem to have the reaction to do as much as possible in cancer treatment.

I realize that cancer treatment is of the slash, poison, and burn variety, even in this modern era. But it would be nice if the elusive 'them' would figure out ways to heal us without killing us off int he process. I feel like a cancer diagnosis is a challenge to both get through the diagnosis AND the treatment. Maybe we need a little more progress/research in this area.

2 comments:

Sharon Greene said...

Yes I'm with you on this. The treatment has always been the hardest part of the disease.

MichiganSurvivor said...

I did the 1 week treatment path (thank god, even shorter) 6 years ago.
My rad onc and I had long discussions about this, but I was the one who decided it was appropriate for me -- stage 1, grade 1.
I asked him why more women didn't have the 3 week regime (which was then called the Canadian protocol), and he said it was because hospitals were staffed and equipped for everyone having 6 weeks.