Only a quarter of patients actually feel better after having palliative chemotherapy, a small study reveals. The study looked at the overall sense of well being of women with breast cancer before and after treatment and found that while 26 per cent felt better after treatment, 19 per cent felt the same and 22 per cent said they felt worse.
Few studies have looked at individual reactions to chemotherapy. This one found that many factors contribute to either a positive or negative experience. These can include age, frailty, the patient's motivation for having treatment and previous experience of chemotherapy.
The researchers also found that having a dry mouth before treatment was significantly associated with either not finishing the course of treatment or feeling worse after treatment, though they were not able to explain why this should be the case (Br J Cancer, 1998; 1488-94).