Chemo’s Dirty Little Secret
We were shocked. It was probably two years ago now when my dad’s oncologist laid out his options.
Basically, he wanted my father to try a new chemo. He’d have to be in the hospital for 10 weeks. Then he’d have to come back two or three days a week for a few hours each time for ANOTHER ten weeks after that.
That was bad enough but here’s the kicker: The doctor said (and I remember this part like it happened this morning) “There’s a 2 percent chance it will cure you and a 20 percent chance it will kill you.”
That sounds crazy, right? Who would do that? (Certainly not my dad!)
But it turns out that your situation doesn’t have to be as dire as my father’s was to be just as crazy.
Just listen to this…
Oh, the irony?!
In a Q&A that appears on CNN’s website, a viewer asks if one of the chemo drugs given to her husband in 1990 might have caused a secondary cancer. She notes that her husband’s hematologist told them that “chemo drugs long ago were mutagenic…and cytotoxic”
Wait until you hear how Dr. Otis Brawley, the chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society responded! He said, “It is ironic but true that many cancer chemotherapies are known to cause cancers.”
This is the head medical guy at the American Cancer Society basically shrugging his shoulders and, for all intents and purposes, telling us “Yeah, the thing we want you to take for your life-threatening disease…well, it could make you worse. Actually, a lot of them do.”
Ironic? I think it might be more accurate to replace “ironic” with “insanely tragic.”
It’s astounding–MANY chemo drugs cause cancers. And notice that Dr. Brawley didn’t add the hematologist’s phrase “long ago.” We’re talking right now, this minute, in hospitals and clinics all over the world, cancer patients are receiving treatments that might very well prompt further cancers!!!
Dr. Brawley goes on to add: “It is something that the physician must consider when recommending treatment.”
First, HUGE understatement again, Dr. Brawley. (I think he might be board-certified in those!) And second, the physician shouldn’t just consider it, he should be very upfront about it.
My father’s oncologist sounded crazy when he recommended the treatment, but at least we knew exactly what we were facing.
Real Qs & As
Doctors usually rush the decision to use chemo–a decision that’s often assumed to be the only option of scared patients and their families. But nothing could be further from the truth.
It’s incredibly shocking and daunting, but if you’re ever in this situation, please ask questions, including “What other cancers is this form of chemo known to cause?”
And consider your options…because you do have them. For example, there is growing evidence that high doses of intravenous vitamin C fight many forms of cancer — better and safer than chemo.
And if you ever hear this question from a cancer patient: Could this vitamin C give me cancer? For the record, the answer is no.
To your good health,
“Could chemo drugs cause a secondary malignancy?” CNN, 10/6/10, pagingdrgupta.blogs.cnn.com