When is it Time to Stop Oncology Treatment?

If you have had three or more rounds of chemotherapy for cancer and the tumors continue to grow or spread, it may be time to consider stopping treatment. Care goals should be discussed with your healthcare team and you should listen to your body. If you are feeling sicker with the treatment, not enjoying life as much, or feeling more pain, it is important to evaluate if it is the disease or the treatment that is causing these symptoms. When the benefit of treatment no longer outweighs the burden, people may decide to stop.

This can be a difficult decision as it can cause pain and suffering for their loved ones. As people complete their cancer treatment, they may experience a variety of emotions such as relief that treatment is over but also worry about the future. It is important to detect the return or recurrence of cancer as soon as possible and to recognize and treat the long-term side effects of specific cancer treatments. For example, if a medication affects bone density, it is important to monitor bone health and take steps to prevent significant bone loss.

People may also need help from experts in rehabilitation medicine if they have a new physical symptom or disability. Visits with healthcare professionals can serve as a reminder to address important issues of maintaining other areas of general health. It is also important to understand 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. Support groups can be a useful resource for survivors to share experiences and advice and receive support from people who have had similar experiences. 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 end-of-life (EOL), receive more intensive end-of-life care (EFV), and are at increased risk of dying from treatment-related complications. It is recommended that each patient take time with their oncologist to clarify the follow-up schedule of visits and recommended tests for the future. Palliative care should be involved in an early stage of care for cancer patients and 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. When clinical trials don't work for a patient, they should contact another oncologist, who is an expert in changes in the ROS1 gene, to get a second opinion.

Shauna Crapp
Shauna Crapp

Sushi buff. Lifelong bacon advocate. Extreme food lover. General web fan. Wannabe coffee lover.

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