Friday, January 27, 2017

More Breast Cancer Treatment Side Effects

What good is a treatment if it could kill you in the end? A new study (because we all need more research) shows that more than half of breast cancer patients have severe or very severe side effects after treatment, especially after chemotherapy.

"Overall, 45 percent of participants reported severe or very severe forms of at least one of these side effects. When women got chemotherapy, the odds of severe side effects were twice as high, though the side effects were just 30 percent more likely when chemo was paired with radiation.

“We did know that some of these side effects were associated with these treatments, but we did not know how severe or how common these side effects were,” said study co-author Dr. Allison Kurian, a researcher at Stanford University School of Medicine in California.

“I found it striking that nearly half of all women treated for early-stage breast cancer reported suffering toxicity that they considered severe or very severe,” Kurian added by email. “This emphasizes the prevalence and seriousness of the problem.”"

This is clearly in the category of 'I wish they had told us this before treatment'. I have always thought that breast cancer treatment was very harsh. Your chemo dose is estimated based on your weight. The chemicals they put in you are so toxic the nurses are gowned and gloved. Radiation causes the technician to leave the room while it is beamed into your body and your skin burns. Surgery cuts out chunks of your body parts with the goal of clean margins, not minimal deformation.

"...The results should encourage doctors to consider when patients treatment regimens might be to achieve the same survival benefit with side effects..."

I wish side effects would be considered just as important as the impact of the treatment. What good is a treatment that kills off potential cancer cells but destroys your heart at the same time? Or that radiation will kill off cancer cells but might also cause a new cancer that could kill you.

"“The treatments we have for cancer are very effective, but there is a growing recognition of the ‘collateral damage’ that can accompany these treatments,” said Dr. Shelley Hwang, a researcher at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, who wasn’t involved in the study.

“Patients should recognize two things: first, that cancer treatments involve trade-offs; second, that some toxicities can be long-lasting,” Hwang added by email."

I'm sorry but cancer treatments should not involve trade-offs. Its not a good treatment if resulting toxicities could kill you. Sorry. I think we need new cancer treatments without 'collateral damage'. 

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