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Doctors recommend elimination of cancer tests and treatments (2)

Earlier this week, we wrote about a recent publication from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) in which a panel of doctors released a list of five cancer tests and treatments that they say should no longer be offered to patients.

The list included: advanced imaging technologies and bone scans to determine the stage of early breast and prostate cancers which are at a low risk of metastasis, those same tests to check for metastasis in patients who have been successfully treated for breast cancer, medication to stimulate white blood cell production in chemotherapy patients who are at risk for a particular blood cell disease, and chemotherapy for patients whose diseases are advanced and who are unlikely to benefit, which is the most controversial of the recommendations.

According to the ASCO, many patients undergo chemotherapy - and deal with its damaging side effects - when it will likely do little to benefit them. Many patients receive three and four rounds of chemo even when they show no response to earlier rounds, and these later treatments do not extend their lives. Therefore, the ASCO recommends that these patients simply receive end-of-life care instead of ineffective, painful and costly treatment.

Similarly, the ASCO says that undergoing advanced imaging to search for metastasis does not extend the survival rates for breast cancer. In fact, it can misdiagnose noncancerous changes as cancer, resulting in the patient undergoing unnecessary and potentially harmful procedures.

It is unknown whether doctors and patients will want to comply with this list. What do you think? If you were in one of these situations, would you want to forego the tests and treatments?

If you or a loved one has suffered as a result of an unnecessary cancer test or treatment, please contact Breslin & Breslin for a free consultation.

Source: Reuters, "Doctors call for end to five cancer tests, treatments," Sharon Begley, April 4, 2012

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