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What if the chemotherapy doesn't work?

9 answers | Last updated: Jul 19, 2015
An anonymous caregiver asked...

What if the chemotherapy doesn't work?


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Ernest Rosenbaum, MD, is an oncologist affiliated with Stanford University and with the Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of California, San Francisco, where he...
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Ernest Rosenbaum answered...

The goal of chemotherapy is to stop a tumor from growing and to stop cancer from recurring and spreading to other parts of the body. There are many different chemotherapy See also:
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drugs, and if one doesn't work your oncoogist will most likely try another. This is quite common either because the body becomes sensitized to a chemotherapy drug and it stops working, or because the side effects are too hard to tolerate. Talk to your doctor, tell her your fears, and ask her to outline very clearly the prognosis for your cancer and the treatment options available. Ask her to list for you all the options available, and at what point you and she would conclude that treatment has not been effective.

At some point, however, for many cancer patients, it becomes clear that chemotherapy has ceased to be effective. At that point the pain and discomfort of the side effects outweigh any benefit the patient is receiving from the drug, and the oncologist will likely recommend discontinuing chemotherapy. Talk to your doctor, tell her your fears, and ask her to outline very clearly the prognosis for your cancer and the treatment options available. Ask her to list all the treatment options she would consider trying, and at what point you and she would conclude that treatment has not been effective. If you don't like the answers or simply would like more information, it's often a good idea to get a second opinion at this point.

At this point, the goal of medicine becomes making the patient comfortable and pain-free, so the rest of the time he or she has available can be spent as meaningfully as possible. This is known as palliative care, and it can be very effective in keeping cancer symptoms at bay.


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Gigi18301 answered...

Always get a second opinion. It does not mean your oncologist is not a good doctor. It means you are checking all your options because your life may depend on it.

There are so many new treatments available. Their are new machines that can zap the specific area of cancer/the tumor from all sides so the rest of the body does not recieve as much, if any, radiation.

The best advice is to learn about your disease. Do your research, know what treatments are available to you, contact your insurance company to find out what cancer centers are in your "network" of providers so most of your medical bills are covered by your insurance.


warda answered...

I was diagnosed with stage 2 Breast Cancer and had a partial masectomy on the right breast. I just started chemo every 3 weeks.My oncologist said I would need like about 4 treatments of chemo. But I want to take 10 days vacation. So I would missed that week of my 3rd chemo. Will it affect me to skip a week from chemo? How? Would I have to have double dosage when I come back? I will have Radiation when I'm done with my chemo. How does radiation harm your body and which parts?


harleym answered...

hi my name is harley i am 15 years old and my great grandmother has cancer she has done chemo and it has not helped her please if you read this and you know something else we can do i need u to tell me...they have gave her only a week or less to life please help me shes my life i dont know what i will do with out her!


car601 answered...

chemo appears to have stopped working for me. the tumor twice has doubled in size. have lung cancer that went to my stomach. can someone help me?


An anonymous caregiver answered...

@warda I was diagnosed with stage 2 BC in 2009...after my 3rd chemo I got very sick with a bad cold and they postponed the next chemo for 5 weeks...I would say go ahead and take that vacation...there are many people out there getting sick all the time and not getting chemo as per schedule...I was worried myself at that time, but the oncologist said it's no problem and that this happens all the time... Regards


14% helpful
An anonymous caregiver answered...

Chemotherapy is a waste of money. These companies make BILLIONS off of this cocktail of deadly poisons and there is not ONE documented case in western medicine to where it has actually cured someone. What is the answer you may ask? Change EVERY facet of your daily life. Stop putting all of these chemicals into your body and expecting it to function properly. Get rid of your microwave, get rid of plastic cups, get rid of fluridated toothpaste, deodorant with aluminum, shampoo with detergents and chemicals, stop eating 300 pounds of frucrose a day. Feed yourself ALL natural foods, drink water from glass rather than plastic, throw out the microwave, get out of the city where 1000's of airborne toxins just permeate the air on a constant basis. Those reasons and 100 more are why people are getting cancer at such an alarming rate. Then we bankrupt ourselves paying for these treatments that end up killing us anyway. Your body is designed to heal itself and it will given the proper tools to do so. Good luck and stop feeding into what the trillion dollar companies say you need.


100% helpful
Oncology CNS answered...

To Anonymous Care Giver. As a Specialist Oncology Nurse, with over 30 years experience. I find your views bias, unhelpful and dangerous. Chemotherapy certainly has it's limitations, mainly dependent on stage of cancer at diagnosis, but on the whole it is a lot more beneficial than throwing away your microwave, stinking of body odour and hugging a tree! But hey, it's your choice.


organicgirl answered...

I agree Anonymous , what you eat and put on your body DOES MATTER. Chemotherapy is poison and doesn't cure cancer , the only thing it did for my mom was make her weaker and sicker.