Studies Suggest Cancer Patients May Do Better with Less Intensive Treatment

Doctors at the June 2024 American Society of Clinical Oncology conference reported that for three types of cancer, scaling back treatment may ease patients’ burdens without compromising their disease outcomes. The three cancers studied were ovarian and esophageal cancer and Hodgkin lymphoma. Among the key findings doctor described were the following: 1) If lymph nodes appear healthy during ovarian cancer surgery, removing them does not improve longevity, and the less extreme surgery avoids complications such as need for blood transfusions. 2) In a comparison between esophageal cancer patients receiving chemotherapy and surgery and other such patients receiving chemo, surgery and radiation, more patients were still alive three years later who did not receive radiation. 3) When two chemotherapy regimens for the blood cancer Hodgkin lymphoma were compared, the less intensive treatment kept the cancer in check for more people than for those who had the more intense treatment. Dr. Tatjana Kolevska, medical director of the Kaiser Permanente National Cancer Excellence Program (who was not involved in the research), said such results confirm that the question should be asked “over and over again”: Do cancer patients need all the treatment that has been used in the past?

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