News: Chemotherapy Kill Cancer Patients. Not Cancer?

News: Chemotherapy Kill Cancer Patients. Not Cancer?

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Actual article in The Lancet Oncology (M Wallington, ‎2016)

Points Across

The study published in reputable The Lancet Oncology journal emphasised on

  • proper selection of cancer patients for chemotherapy treatment, especially patients who are old or have poor performance status.
  • importance of mortality review in order to improve clinical decision making (identifying patients who does not benefit or not suitable for chemotherapy treatment, eg. in terminal stage, active phase of dying. etc).
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My ‘glass half full’ thinking: Since ALL patients with advanced/ late stage cancer are going die without treatment anyway, some only survived short days, weeks or months, successful treatment with chemotherapy may help the other half to live beyond a month and longer.

Unfortunately, the study was totally hijacked by irresponsible news outlet (above) to paint chemotherapy treatments in bad light.

These type of news will then be propagated/ shared by unscrupulous people for their own self interest.

They will use it to discourage cancer patients from seeking actual treatment and to try out products that they are selling (supplements, herbal, etc).

Clinical trials
Chemotherapy and other cancer treatments (targeted therapy, biologic therapy, hormonal therapy, immunotherapy) take years from identifying active compounds/ targets,  preclinical animal testing and to multiple phases of clinical trials before obtaining approval from relevant regulatory authorities.

It’s will be a great loss to patients if they are to believe the inaccurate portrayal and fear mongering by irresponsible people about chemotherapy treatment.

In the end, patients lose not only their money but their health deteriorates when cancer progressed into more advanced stage.

Chemotherapy Treatments Improve Survival


Advanced lung cancer patients showed doubling of survival with palliative chemotherapy vs supportive care only (P Marino – ‎1994).


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Adjuvant chemotherapy in early breast cancer improve cure rate and subsequently reduces breast cancer mortality.


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In metastatic triple negative breast cancer, chemotherapy prolongs survival when hormonal and HER2-targeted therapy are not effective in this subgroup of patients.


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Average/ median overall survival for locally advanced pancreatic cancer reached 2 years with chemotherapy treatment. Previously, patients with advanced pancreatic cancer only only have short months to live.

Above are just few examples (there are many more) on how chemotherapy treatment helped to increase survival in early and advanced stage for various cancers.

Other than increasing survival, chemotherapy also prevent cancer from recurring, progressing and causes symptoms (see below) which may affect patient’s quality of life.

Spinal cord compression due to pathological compression fracture causing paraplegia (paralysis bilateral lower limbs)/ cauda equina syndrome (bowel and bladder incontinence)
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Fungating breast lesion in advanced breast cancer with bleeding and foul-smelling discharges


Malignant ascites due to accumulation of fluids in the abdomen causing discomfort/ pain.

What is palliative chemotherapy for?

Palliative chemotherapy aims are to prolong survival AND to maintain quality of life (preventing/ postponing future symptoms of the disease and palliating/ alleviation of cancer symptoms).

Of course, there are times when patients with advanced/ late stage cancer, who want to give chemotherapy ‘a try’ because there is nothing to lose, even when they were not very fit/ borderline performance status (due to cancer)

Without chemotherapy, patients knew they will eventually succumb to cancer but if chemotherapy is successful, their symptoms will improve and they will had a chance to live longer.


Cancer kills cancer patients

Chemotherapy treats cancer patients; cure in early stage and control for advance/ late stage cancer.

Chemotherapy serious side effects, if not identified and treated, kills cancer patients.


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