If you decide to stop chemotherapy, make sure you continue to feel relief from symptoms such as pain, constipation, and nausea. Making Your Decision · Questions to Ask Your Oncologist · Life After Chemotherapy. Cancer treatments can help stop the growth or spread of cancer. However, sometimes treatment doesn't work well or stops working.
A person may want to stop chemotherapy for a while or completely. This may be due to adverse side effects, treatment seems to be ineffective, or for other reasons. Your oncologist considers these issues when determining what treatment options may benefit you and if you can tolerate it. Breaks are common in cancer practice, and for both patients and oncologists, pausing with a reevaluation plan can be a much less threatening discussion than stopping chemotherapy altogether.
Your oncologist might suggest that you talk to a social worker or attend a support group with others who are facing similar decisions. Now may be the time to do some things you've always wanted to do and stop doing things you don't want to do anymore. You can learn more about the changes that occur when curative treatment stops working, and about planning ahead for you and your family, in Advance Directives and Approaching the End of Life. Review the recommendations of the American Society of Clinical Oncologists (ASCO) and Choosing Wisely as you make this decision.
While your oncologist can tell you the odds or probabilities that a new therapy will work, this is always just an estimate. If tests suggest that chemotherapy doesn't work or has stopped working, your doctor may recommend other options. Poor functional status was generally cited as the main reason for stopping, and oncologists often told patients that additional chemotherapy would likely be harmful. Forward-looking observation is necessary to understand the thoughts and actions of both oncologists and patients, especially with respect to who primarily makes the decision (i.e., the oncologist, the patient, and the family, or both).
If chemotherapy stops working, discuss the other options with your oncologist, the rest of your healthcare team, and your loved ones, including family members, before making a future treatment decision. Anyone who is concerned that chemotherapy isn't working should tell their oncologist or oncologist. The best option is the one you feel comfortable with, whether it's continuing chemotherapy, exploring experimental treatments, or stopping treatment altogether. The oncologist may suggest new treatments, such as trying different combinations of chemotherapy drugs that include experimental options.
Oncologists documented a variety of reasons for switching from intravenous to oral chemotherapy (for example, patients who later tested positive for the EGFR mutation or the potential benefit of the regimen as second-line therapy for those without mutation). The median number of days between discontinuation of oral chemotherapy and death was 34 days (range, 0 to 732 days).