Doctor recommends quitting chemo. Is this common?

2 answers | Last updated: Jun 21, 2010
Linda p, lb, ca asked...

My doctor is thinking about not having me complete my chemo treatments. I only have one more big one to go. Is this common? I have been very sick, but expected that after chemo.

Expert Answers

Andrew Putnam, M.D. is a Palliative Care physician at Smilow Cancer Center at Yale New Haven Hospital and Yale University.

It sounds like your doctor did not explain clearly and you need to speak to her again and ask for clarification. Doctors recommend stopping chemo for several reasons. It may be that your body is not tolerating the chemotherapy well and the doctor wants you to take a break for healing. It may be that the therapy has been so effective that the doctor does not feel you need that final treatment. Or it may be that the doctor believes the treatment is not making enough of a difference to continue. It sounds like you want the straight scoop, so tell your doctor to spell it out. If it does turn out the doctor is giving you bad news and the chemo is not working, you'll want to know if there other treatment options to consider, or if this is all that the doctors can do. If you feel that your doctor is being overly cautious or pessimistic, this may be a time to get a second opinion.

Community Answers

Edterijo answered...

When I went in for my next to the last treatment, I couldn't get it because my platelets were too low. We waited a week and it was okay to proceed. When I went in for my last treatment, my platelets were again too low and rather than try waiting again, my oncologist suggested not getting it and to let my body rest. This may be as well in your case, so ask how that has been going. If your oncologist's reason is because the chemo may not be working (I know you don't know that yet), make sure that is information you want to know. Some don't want to know and others do. If the relationship with your oncologist so far has been on a need to know basis, then this is probably why s/he hasn't given you the entire reason. Which this sounds more like in your case because if you were the type of person who from the very beginning didn't want your doctor to beat around the bush and give it to you straight, then that would've been the case this time. This certainly doesn't mean all bad news. So, ask about your platelets, what other alternatives you have or get that second opinion.