Overtreatment (Salem Health: Cancer)
Causes: Standard procedure is to treat anyone who has cancer in the way that is believed best to destroy the cancer. Some people, however, believe that not every person who has cancer is best served by an aggressive cancer treatment plan and that in some cases it may be in the patient’s best interest not to treat the cancer at all.
A growing body of evidence suggests that it is not in the best interest of every patient to aggressively treat every cancer. Treatment of prostate and breast cancers especially has come under scrutiny. Researchers have found that there are a surprising number of cases in which an autopsy has revealed a case of prostate cancer but the man had no symptoms of the cancer while alive. This type of evidence is often the basis for arguments against aggressively treating every case of cancer.
Some types of cancer are very slow to grow or may never grow at all and are considered extremely unlikely to spread. Therefore, an approach of watchful waiting may be more appropriate for some individuals than an aggressive treatment plan involving surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or a combination of treatments.
Side effects: Cancer treatments have many side effects that can significantly decrease people’s quality of life. These can include pain, fatigue, nausea, hair loss, appetite loss, and depression. Cancer patients should discuss with their health care team all the...
(The entire section is 349 words.)