Most cancer patients believe chemo will cure—but it doesn’t
Eighty per cent of patients with a cancer that is spreading (metastatic) agree to chemotherapy because they wrongly believe the drugs will cure them, researchers have discovered this week.
Chemotherapy may prolong life by weeks, or even months, in people whose cancer is spreading—but the patients believe the treatment will reverse the disease.
Researchers from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute discovered a major miscommunication between the oncologist and the patient when they interviewed 1,193 patients with metastatic lung or colorectal cancer.
Four out of five patients believed the chemotherapy would cure them, even after they had discussed the treatment with their doctor. Very few of them selected one of the other two more likely outcomes: that the chemo might extend their lives or that it might help with some of the symptoms associated with the cancer.
(Source: New England Journal of Medicine, 2012; 367: 1616-25).