The Los Angeles Times discusses the need to rethink our cancer treatment paradigm

The Los Angeles Times discusses the need to rethink our cancer treatment paradigm

In the back of many peoples minds, the thought of becoming ill, or having cancer causes us to worry. In the news lately have been many studies that are beginning to show that more care is often either less effective, ineffective or even harmful. Just because something can be found on a test, does it need to be treated, is it life threatening and if it is, can the treatment extend the my life. Check out this article.


Rethinking cancer

New studies show that aggressive measures aren’t always best. What does this mean for healthcare?


July 29, 2012

For a long time, we thought we knew the drill for battling cancer: Screen regularly to catch it early. Then, if it was operable, root it out. Follow up with chemotherapy and/or radiation to lower the chances of a return.

Though some or all of those tactics are still called for much of the time, the last couple of years have produced a bumper crop of studies telling us that the situation can be more complicated. Sometimes the most aggressive tactics against cancer and other illnesses might be not only unnecessary but downright bad for us.

The debate opened wide with a 2009 recommendation from the Preventive Services Task Force calling for most women younger than 50 to forgo mammograms. Most of the suspicious tissue found during mammograms ultimately is determined to be benign, but finding that out can require biopsies that carry their own risks. In addition, some of the cancers found grow so slowly that they would never present a health problem, yet they are fought with treatments that also carry risks and side effects. Women under the age of 50 are both less likely to have breast cancer than older women and more likely to suffer harm as a result of unnecessary treatment.

The following year, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine reported that one group of patients with terminal lung cancer lived an average of three months longer than a control group, even though they gave up cancer treatments sooner — perhaps because they also received treatment from the start to reduce pain and discomfort.

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