I have to admit to having a personal bias here, I hate chemotherapy. It's nasty horrible stuff, my mother refused it for her breast cancer and I think it was the right choice for her despite her dying. No-one can pretend it's anything but poison.
I'm not talking about all chemotherapy here; 'chemotherapy' simply means using chemicals to treat. The word could be applied to any pharmaceutical drug but is generally used to describe the highly poisonous cocktails given to kill dividing cells. The dividing cells it wants to target are cancer cells.
There are some chemotherapy agents that are quite simply wonderful. In the sixties a scientist was looking at the effect of electricity on cancer cells. He used different metals - gold, silver and platinum - to ensure it wasn't the metal itself affecting the change. Remarkably he found that the platinum killed the cancer cells.
This drug - cisplatin - is a fantastic cure for testicular cancer and likewise there are other good cures for blood cancers, but these are outliers in the world of 'chemotherapy'. The disturbing truth is that over 5 years, with 'adult solid cancers' the toxic cocktail is likely to save just 1 in 50 patients!
So, whats the problem with that? That's still one live in fifty saved isn't it?
Well, if you have to ask that question you have probably never witnessed someone going through the living hell that is modern 'chemotherapy'. Imagine being deliberately and systematically poisoned with chemicals so dangerous that they actually cause cancer. Imagine your hair falling out; daily diarrhoea and vomiting; all-pervasive-malaise; weight loss; being too weak to even walk to the toilet. If ever there was a cure that is worse than the disease then surely this is it.
To be honest, if this is the chance that people want to take for an extra slice of survival then I have no problem with it. Over five years that increase will mean that for every 50 people
poisoned treated, one extra will survive.
However, I'm disgusted by the medical establishments ignorance of this fact. I went with my neighbour, who sadly has just passed away, to see a specialist surgeon and I asked him what was the survival benefit. I was not aware of this appalling statistic at the time but neither was the specialist and when asked for the 'evidence' he just looked blankly.
If he had quoted the 2% figure I am certain she would not have taken this malodorous cocktail. Did he know and choose to withhold this, or was he just ignorant? The chemotherapy didnt work, the cancer spread and then what did they suggest... More chemotherapy!
The result of these studies are truly appaling. Chemotherapy has effects that spiral far out from the poor poisoned victim. The family then become carers; children become de-facto orphans; hospitals become burdened with complications like neutropenic sepsis. Communities have to rally to support this medical malpractice. Meanwhile other avenues of healing are ignored and ridiculed.
It takes a brave person to refuse chemotherapy but that decision would be a lot easier if the bare facts were laid out. It should be a legal requirement (technically it already is via informed consent) that patients should be made clearly aware of their survival benefit with or without these deadly poisons.
I would bet that if you gave the patient the £50 000 it costs to put someone through chemo and let them spend as they choose, the survival in this group would be higher still than chemo. Now, that would be a trial worth doing.