Hard decisions about cancer

Categories: Education.

A new resource from the Choosing Wisely campaign looks at questions to ask when facing a cancer diagnosis. Developed in conjunction with the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the resource includes a discussion of cancer treatments at the end of life.

[An excerpt from “Hard decisions about cancer”]

When the diagnosis is cancer, many people understandably want to pull out all the stops to treat it. But some tests, treatments, and procedures are not only unnecessary, they can even prove harmful.

“Sometimes less really is more,” says Lowell Schnipper, M.D., clinical director of the Cancer Center and chief of oncology and hematology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. “It’s important to assess if what you are doing will help you stay well longer.”

Schnipper heads a task force convened by  the American Society of  Clinical  Oncology (ASCO), a professional group dedicated to cancer care and research, that identified five tests and treatments that are not supported by  evidence for most patients. That means you should generally avoid them unless you and your doctor jointly decide they are appropriate in your case.

“This is not a never list,” says Doug Blayney, M.D.,  medical director at Stanford University Cancer Institute in Stanford, Calif., past president of  ASCO,  and also a member of  the task force. “It’s a tool to help you discuss options with your provider and choose wisely among them.”

Visit the Consumer Reports Health website to download the full PDF, “Hard decisions about cancer.”

A web portal offering a number of resources looking closely at medical screening tests has just been released by Consumer Reports Health.

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