Is indefinite chemo considered pallative care?

Pandora asked...

Is indefinite chemo considered pallative care? And when this is the case, is it wise to ask about quality vs. quanity of life? How long can pallative care extend life?

Expert Answer

Linda Ackerman, R.N. has clinical experience in oncology, women's health, and medical nursing. She has been practicing for more than 20 years and is a licensed registered nurse in both Florida and Wisconsin. In addition, she serves as a board member of Breast Cancer Recovery and the Wisconsin Cancer Council.

Palliative chemotherapy is a treatment considered when the intent of treatment is no longer curative but rather to provide symptom relief from the cancer.

To respond to your question, yes it could be given indefinitely based on your unique situation and information shared between you and your doctor.

I would like to offer these questions for you and for other people faced with making an informed decision specifically for their individual situation.

These questions will require a very frank open discussion with your physician. You and your physician will need to have a full and complete understanding of your disease stage, prognosis and the limits of treatment.

  1. How effective is this particular chemotherapy at reducing tumor size? Or what is the response rate?

  2. How long and how many cycles of chemotherapy will it take before we know its working? Or what is the median duration of the response?

  3. What are the potential burdens of treatment? Or what side effects can I expect? Or will I be able to continue normal activities?

  4. Will I live longer? Or could this treatment prolong my life?

  5. Will my symptoms be reduced? Or what impact will the treatment have on my quality of life?