(NaturalHealth365) Chemo as a treatment for cancer has always been controversial, with patients as well as medical professionals doubting its efficacy and safety as a cancer treatment. Bottom line: It seems to have more harmful side effects than healing effects.
Now researchers are admitting that chemotherapy can actually worsen deterioration in cases of late stage cancer who still have the mobility and energy for daily activities. The study, published in JAMA Oncology, also showed that cancer patients with limited or moderate functioning ability feel worse when undergoing chemotherapy.
Is it worth it? The risks and side effects of chemotherapy exposed
In the words of the study author and lead researcher Dr. Holly Prigerson, cancer patients who feel good have “the most to lose and the least to gain” through undergoing chemotherapy. Prigerson is a palliative care researcher at New York Presbyterian Hospital in New York and Weill Cornell Medical College.
The side effects of chemotherapy are numerous and include loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, anemia, constipation, bladder issues, bleeding, bruising, edema, hair loss, fatigue, infections, neutropenia, lymphedema, memory loss, difficultly concentrating, throat and mouth issues, nerve issues, pain, sexual and fertility issues, insomnia, and more.
Other medical professionals have expressed similar concerns regarding chemotherapy administered near a patient’s death. Doctors have long debated whether the strong, toxic chemicals used in chemotherapy bring enough positive effects to justify the debilitating side effects of chemotherapy. Some have referred to this practice of administering chemo to clients with late stage cancers as harmful at worst, wasteful at best.
Cancer patient warning: Chemotherapy hazards outweigh gains and benefits
This recent study monitored the chemotherapy effects that 312 cancer patients experienced in their final week of life at six oncology clinics in the United States. Within this group, chemotherapy tended to be administered most often to those who were younger, more educated, receiving treatment at a university medical facility, had pancreatic or breast tumors, and presenting additional issues besides cancer. They also were able to engage in their normal daily activities.
To assess chemotherapy’s impact, caregivers were interviewed shortly after these patients died. Among those who had high functionality in their last week of life, chemotherapy was shown to reduce their quality of life dramatically, even beyond the impact of being in intensive care or on a ventilator. A lower quality of life was reported versus similar patients who didn’t receive chemo.
Sound the alarm: Quality of life should be considered in end-stage cancer cases
At the very least, clinical guidelines should be reviewed and revised to adjust for this potential harm from chemotherapy near the end of life. After all, quality of life matters in terminal cases, and areas like pain control, addressing insomnia and boosting mood as well as the potential side effects of chemotherapy should all be considered.
Clearly, chemotherapy isn’t helping patients feel better or live longer in many cases. While the objective is often to fight cancer and tumors with every option, terrible side effects and erosion of quality of life are a heavy price to pay. Medical professionals should take a cautious approach with prescribing chemotherapy, especially in late-stage cases.
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