Index Home About Blog
From: Steve Harris <>
Subject: Re: Lung Cancer ?
Date: 9 Aug 2005 12:17:40 -0700
Message-ID: <>

Kamalakar Pasupuleti wrote:
> The speed with which Peter Jennings the versatile anchor of ABC News
> succumbed to lung cancer is shocking .


Not if they killed him with chemo, it isn't. He had a terminal
condition in any case, but there are some cancers probably best left
untreated (except with paliative radiotherapy) and many types of lung
cancer fall into this category, after they've spread beyond the point
of surgical removal. Chemo doesn't slow them down much, and it
certainly quite often kills patients (they lose weight and get
pneumonia much faster, and die). Alas, oncologists continue to "offer"
chemo "paliatively" even in cases where it hasn't been shown to affect
life span, and certainly where it can negatively affect life quality.
In these cases a lot of patients might be better off just saying no to
cytotoxic-type chemotherapy.

(Radiation, by contrast, is a relatively well-tolerated cancer
treatment, causing few problems with quality of life, and rarely
contributing to death).

Understand, I'm not against chemo per se. In some cancers at some
stages (and even a few solid cancers at ANY stage), chemotherapy can be
lifesaving, and you'd be a fool not to use it. In a few others,
cytotoxic chemo does work paliatively, cutting bone pain from
metastases, even when everyone knows it won't be curative. This is
particularly helpful in very low and painful cancers that metastasize
to bone, with breast cancer being a prime example.

But at the same time, chemotherapy is overused, in general, in
oncology. It's used when the patient isn't in pain from the tumor, and
when there's little reason to believe it's doing anything to extend
life. Oncologists earn most of their money by giving chemotherapy, and
that might be part of the reason. However, the unwillingness of
patients to just "give up" and do nothing without continuing to
"fight," is another. Wisdom is needed when you have something like
inoperable lung cancer. It is fine to grasp at straws when they're
inexpensive and reasonably harmless straws. Chemotherapy often isn't
that kind of thing.


From: Steve Harris <>
Subject: Re: Lung Cancer ?
Date: 9 Aug 2005 13:45:09 -0700
Message-ID: <> wrote:
> And herceptin?

Not cytotoxic and thus not a big risk. Fairly benign clinically (though
very expensive).

Index Home About Blog