Asking the right questions

It doesn’t advise us about vitally important questions we need to ask about proposed treatment plan.


Irish Cancer Society website:
When discussing treatment options such as radiotherapy, chemotherapy, drugs and/or surgery, ask What is the best treatment for me and why? Can you tell me how I can expect to benefit from the chosen treatments? What will it involve and how long will it take? What are the short-term and long-term side effects of the treatment(s)? Can I take steps to minimise side effects?

What the Society doesn’t tell us:

The above questions are not helpful to patients because:
(a) They imply standard treatments like chemo are the only ones available.
(b) The “best treatment” may have nothing to do with prolonging your life (the most important question) because it’s main goal may be to shrink the tumour – whether or not you die in the process.
(c) The serious side effects are what patients need to worry about. Life threatening side effects are routinely dismissed as rare but they are very common, as I prove in the side-effects section.

Surely, the important questions to ask are:

  1. Will this treatment prolong my life?
  2. Will you show me a few studies that will verify this treatment will prolong my life, when directly compared to no treatment at all?
  3. Will this treatment cause secondary cancers?
  4. What is the chance that the cancer will come back after treatment?
  5. What are the serious side effects?
  6. Could the side-effects cause serious pain or damage to vital organs or lead to death?
  7. What tests could help determine the treatment most likely to work for me? (if you opt for chemo, ask about Chemo-sensitivity testing).
  8. How do you plan on eliminating my Cancer Stem Cells (the only cells that can give rise to new tumors)?
  9. When and how will we know whether or not the treatment is working?
  10. What other treatment options are available to me?

Whatever Treatment Plan your medical team proposes, it is critical that you ask a series of exploratory questions. If you don’t ask the right questions, the answers are irrelevant.

Once again, the Irish Cancer Society is more interested in advocating for standard treatment than encouraging patients to question it’s efficacy.

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