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Your thoughts on chemotherapy for cancer treatment

momhappy

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Mar 3, 2013
Messages
4,660
Chemotherapy is often a treatment of choice with a cancer diagnosis. However, I have read so much conflicting information about it. I found one survey that said that 80% of doctors said that they would NOT have chemotherapy as part of their cancer treatment plan if they were diagnosed with cancer. I have also seen other reports that chemo has a less than 3% success rate (which of course depends on a number of variables, but generally-speaking, the treatment is not very effective). Does anyone have any thoughts on this or personal experiences? I ask because a close family member of mine has recently been diagnosed with cancer and since they began chemo, their overall health has really seemed to decline.
 

ericad

Ideal_Rock
Trade
Joined
Jul 28, 2007
Messages
2,033
A close friend of mine was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer and underwent chemo almost non stop for 4.5 years (the only chemo breaks she had were for surgeries or radiation treatments, including gamma knife for some spots in her brain), until her body couldn't take anymore chemo. So she stopped the chemo and had a stem cell transplant in the hopes of prolonging her life (she was diagnosed at age 37 and had 2 young kids) and after the transplant her scans were clear. Then, a few weeks after her latest clean scan, they found cancer in her retinas. And in her spine. And a week or so later the cancer was in her heart. Within days of that she passed away. It's my belief that the chemo was holding the cancer at bay, and when she had to stop, the cancer took her life.

The usual prognosis with IBC is 2 years and she had 4.5 due to an insanely aggressive treatment plan and a body that could take more punishment than most. I think she would have subjected her body to hot coals or the rack if it meant buying more precious time with her children, so she was grateful for the chemo. After 4+ years of chemo, she needed to use a walker and had suffered almost complete hearing loss due to the chemo ravaging her body. But she would have done 4 more years of it if she could have.

I miss her every day.
 

momhappy

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Mar 3, 2013
Messages
4,660
^Oh gosh, I'm sorry for your loss:(
My greatest fear is not being here to take care of my children. It sounds odd to say, but every year on my birthday (since I've had kids) I say a little prayer of thanks for allowing me to be on this Earth to take care of my little ones one more year....
We are just so torn about the chemo. I understand how/why it works, but there's so much conflicting information out there. Some people swear it saves you, while others swear it kills you. My family member is so weak now and seems to be going downhill fast after just two treatments. After the third round, they will cat scan to see if the chemo is having an impact on the tumor.
 

MishB

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Aug 16, 2008
Messages
656
I had concurrent chemo and radiation therapy last year, it finished a year ago today actually.

I coped very well with the chemo, had almost no ill effects. I had a PICC line and a pump that I had to drag around for 6 weeks, that was probably the worst of it.

So far so good, whether it was thanks to the chemo, the radiation or both I don't know, and I don't care.

I had good doctors (3 oncologists who all agreed on the course of treatment) and I put my trust in them.
 

momhappy

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Mar 3, 2013
Messages
4,660
4 rounds of chemo has pretty much killed my FIL. His initial prognosis was 6-12 months, so I'm really not sure how he would have done without the chemo. All we know now is that with each chemo treatment, he grew weaker each time until he almost died. He has now stopped all treatment, is at home, and expected to live only a few, short weeks. :(( Having seen what I've seen, I am not convinced that chemo is the answer....
 

maccers

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Sep 19, 2012
Messages
1,166
My mom has had breast cance twice and my dad had colon cancer. Both did chemo. Mom's cancer did come back four years later and it spread through out her body. She's on something called herceptin now which slows the tumour growth of the cancer, it's not a chemo drug but something else. Dad's been clear from cancer for five years. Both my parents found that their energy levels were so low at times and there's the nausea and recovery from surgeries. It's been really hard on them and the family in general. But I know they would both do chemo again. In the five years since my day's recovery, my sister got married, their first grandchild was born and they're going to be around to see me get married. I'm not sure that would have been possible if they had only gotten the surgeries but not the chemo.

I'm sorry that your family is going through this. It's very tough.
 

pandabee

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Feb 29, 2012
Messages
2,883
Oncology is not my area of expertise but we did learn the basics of it in pharmacy school. I think it really depends on the type of cancer as certain types of tumors respond better to chemo, or to a combination of chemo and radiation, than to radiation alone. I think something that people often forget is that drugs are foreign substances that we put in our bodies to alter our own body's response to something that we are fighting or to attack whatever is hurting our bodies. Chemo is the harshest example of drug therapy so with all drugs, it is necessary to talk about risks and benefits and whether it is worth it. There are a terrible amount of side effects but it's nice to know that it doesn't last indefinitely as doctors know that they need to let your body recover a bit in between rounds.

My dad had to be treated with radiation only for his thyroid so unfortunately I don't have any personal experiences to share, but wanted to share my knowledge from a druggist's side. Cancer sucks is all I have to say. Lots of ((hugs))!!
 

partgypsy

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Nov 7, 2004
Messages
6,298
momhappy|1363552316|3407277 said:
Chemotherapy is often a treatment of choice with a cancer diagnosis. However, I have read so much conflicting information about it. I found one survey that said that 80% of doctors said that they would NOT have chemotherapy as part of their cancer treatment plan if they were diagnosed with cancer. I have also seen other reports that chemo has a less than 3% success rate (which of course depends on a number of variables, but generally-speaking, the treatment is not very effective). Does anyone have any thoughts on this or personal experiences? I ask because a close family member of mine has recently been diagnosed with cancer and since they began chemo, their overall health has really seemed to decline.

Sorry for resurrecting old thread. I really don't know where you are getting these numbers from. 80% of doctors, really? And a less than 3% success rate? There are so many different cancers, and even the same "type" of cancer say breast cancer may have very specific different menu of treatments depending on a number of variables including genetic. Every treatment has its risks and benefits. There are a number of cases where chemotherapy is not a recommended treatment, or given for palliative reasons, and there it makes sense to question whether there are any benefits to it.
If you or a loved one was diagnosed read about that particular cancer, stage, characteristics and see what are the first, second line of treatments. Also get a second medical opinion. But unfortunately not everything on the internet is true, try to find sites like the American Cancer Society or one's based out of reputable medical sites (Mayo clinic, etc).
It would be terrible for someone not get treated successfully due to misguided fear.
 

momhappy

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Mar 3, 2013
Messages
4,660
part gypsy|1380897221|3532066 said:
momhappy|1363552316|3407277 said:
Chemotherapy is often a treatment of choice with a cancer diagnosis. However, I have read so much conflicting information about it. I found one survey that said that 80% of doctors said that they would NOT have chemotherapy as part of their cancer treatment plan if they were diagnosed with cancer. I have also seen other reports that chemo has a less than 3% success rate (which of course depends on a number of variables, but generally-speaking, the treatment is not very effective). Does anyone have any thoughts on this or personal experiences? I ask because a close family member of mine has recently been diagnosed with cancer and since they began chemo, their overall health has really seemed to decline.

Sorry for resurrecting old thread. I really don't know where you are getting these numbers from. 80% of doctors, really? And a less than 3% success rate? There are so many different cancers, and even the same "type" of cancer say breast cancer may have very specific different menu of treatments depending on a number of variables including genetic. Every treatment has its risks and benefits. There are a number of cases where chemotherapy is not a recommended treatment, or given for palliative reasons, and there it makes sense to question whether there are any benefits to it.
If you or a loved one was diagnosed read about that particular cancer, stage, characteristics and see what are the first, second line of treatments. Also get a second medical opinion. But unfortunately not everything on the internet is true, try to find sites like the American Cancer Society or one's based out of reputable medical sites (Mayo clinic, etc).
It would be terrible for someone not get treated successfully due to misguided fear.
I found lots of numbers - I only posted a couple (which I questioned) and I CLEARLY stated that I found LOTS of conflicting information. I also posted that there are any number of variables that can affect the outcome (for example, type of cancer). I certainly don't believe everything I read on the internet and I've done plenty of research on those reputable sites that you've mentioned too. I'm not implying that anyone should forgo treatment based on misguided fears, I'm merely inquiring about how others feel about chemotherapy.
 

partgypsy

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Nov 7, 2004
Messages
6,298
I work in research, and have worked in two different cancer clinics. I have had many many people tell me their stories, if it hadn't been for their treatment, it getting caught, they wouldn't be here. There are some cancers (blood cancers) that can go into remission after appropriate treatment. For all intents and purposes, the cancer is cured. For some of these cancers it is a high rate for that treatment.

There are other stories as well, where some people cannot tolerate the treatment well, and have bad side effects. And times where people who were treated with the best medical care and treatment, including chemotherapy, who still succumbed to their cancer. All treatments have pros and cons/side effects.

For who you are talking about, really they need to discuss the treatment options with their doctor, and also get a 2nd medical opinion if they are on the fence. If they don't know why the doctor is recommending a specific treatment, have them ask why, including what is the prognosis, life expectancy with and without that treatment, and what they should expect with that treatment.

Good luck.
 
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