Death of a Cancer Cell

Chemotherapy is a highly toxic medical treatment for cancer often resulting in vomiting, hair loss, anemia, heart disease, bleeding and diarrhea. A medical research study published in Australia in 2004 found that close to ninety-eight percent of cancer patients that received chemotherapy experienced no improvement in their chances for survival. Yet chemotherapy is still widely administered.

Most cancer patients are likely unaware of this documented lack of effectiveness of chemotherapy. According to the authors of the Australian study "[t]he minimal impact on survival in the more common cancers conflicts with the perceptions of many patients who feel they are receiving a treatment that will significantly enhance their chances of cure. In part this represents the presentation of data as a reduction in risk rather than as an absolute survival benefit and by exaggerating the response rates by including “stable disease.'"

For example, prior to receiving chemotherapy for cancer a patient might be told by his oncologist that his risk of recurrence will be reduced by fifty percent. But what this statement may really mean is that instead of having a four percent chance of recurrence the patient now has a two percent chance. While the change in relative risk is fifty percent, the absolute change in risk is only two percent.

The study also found that a patient with lung cancer who undergoes chemotherapy can expect on average to obtain no more than two months of additional survival relative to a lung cancer patient who chooses not to undergo chemotherapy. 

Oncologists, hospitals and pharmaceutical companies have an enormous financial stake in maintaining the use of chemotherapy as a treatment for cancer despite the lack of evidence of its overall effectiveness. The cost of an eight week course of chemotherapy can easily exceed $30,000 and total revenues from the sale of chemotherapy drugs are anticipated to reach $93 billion by 2016. 

Protecting the financial interest of the powerful institutions of the medical establishment is the reason why there has been no reporting in the US media regarding the results of the Australian study despite the fact that the study included data on the effectiveness of chemotherapy on US patients. 

Sadly, the well being and quality of life of cancer patients take a back seat to the enormous profits earned by the medical establishment from treating patients with chemotherapy. 

There is now significant evidence of safer and vastly more effective cancer treatment alternatives. Yet because these alternative treatments often involve substances that are not patentable and not otherwise controlled by the pharmaceutical industry, patients will continue to suffer needlessly and die prematurely.