If you have had three or more chemotherapy treatments for cancer and the tumors continue to grow or spread, it may be time to consider stopping chemotherapy. Care goals need to be something that you continually check with your healthcare team. You also have to listen to your body. When the body says things like: “I'm getting sicker with this treatment, I don't enjoy my life as much with it, I feel more pain, you and your team need to evaluate if it's the disease or the treatment.
There are many reasons why people keep trying, and I can respect many of those reasons, but generally the reason people stop treatment is because the benefit no longer outweighs the burden. They are sicker and, despite everything they have tried, the disease continues to progress. They know that the decision to stop doing so could cause a lot of pain and suffering for their loved ones, but that is not their intention. As people complete their cancer treatment, they may experience a variety of emotions.
They may be relieved that treatment is over, but worry about the future. In a way, this transition is one of the least understood aspects of the cancer experience. Here, Cancer, Net talks to Lidia Schapira, MD, about coping with the end of active cancer treatment. People often want to know what signs to look for in order to detect the return or recurrence of cancer as soon as possible and to recognize and treat the long-term side effects of their specific cancer treatment.
For example, a person who received a medication that can affect their bone density should understand that it is important to monitor bone health and take appropriate steps to prevent significant bone loss. Another example is when a person with a new physical symptom or disability needs the help of experts in rehabilitation medicine. Patients can also use these visits to have deeper conversations about their future health, seek advice on how to manage side effects, or get referrals to support services. These visits can serve as a reminder to address important issues of maintaining other areas of your general health.
In general, the purpose of these discussions is to ensure that the patient has adequate follow-up of their cancer-related and other health-related problems and that the patient knows how their primary care physician will be involved. Another very useful resource is a support group. It allows survivors to share experiences and advice and receive support from people who have had similar experiences and who are outside their usual circle of family or friends. In the meantime, some people may find it useful to seek more information about survival after their specific type of cancer or information on how to cope with it, using web-based materials, such as those available on Cancer, Net.
Others may turn to literature, hobbies, or faith to help them move forward. The important message is that life can change forever because of the experience of having cancer, and those changes deserve careful attention and respect. It's also important to recognize that many cancer survivors face an uncertain future and feel restless. We can listen to them and associate with them, letting them know that they are not alone.
The Importance of Follow-up Care Saying Goodbye to Your Oncologist on Time. Comprehensive information for people with cancer, families and caregivers, from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), the voice of the world's cancer professionals. When Cancer Treatments Stop Working, It's Not the End of the Line. Most patients with advanced disease will receive ongoing therapy, and that means trying different options along the way.
Cancer patients who do not involve the palliative care team in their management tend to receive chemotherapy close to EOL, receive more intensive EFV care, and are at increased risk of dying from treatment-related complications. Palliative care should be involved in an early stage of care for cancer patients. Find some time with your oncologist or trusted person to talk about this if your body tells you that it no longer works or if you feel worse when you are undergoing treatment. Some oncologists like to plan well in advance and begin to discuss clinical trial options that are most appropriate when the patient is still healthy with their current treatment, should the patient progress in the future.
It may be a time when many oncologists shine with their patients, and in the end they make sure that all comfort measures are taken. I recommend that each patient take time with their oncologist to clarify the follow-up schedule of visits and recommended tests for the future. She stopped the trial, and her primary oncologist put her on chemotherapy with docetaxel, to which the cancer is responding very well. When the clinical trial didn't work for Brickell, she and her oncologist contacted another oncologist, who is an expert in changes in the ROS1 gene, to get a second opinion.