Docs Weigh Longer Chemo in Cancer Battle

Experts say tumors could be treated as chronic diseases
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jul 21, 2009 10:11 AM CDT
Some doctors are using maintenance therapy to treat cancer.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Instead of waiting for cancer to return, some doctors are keeping up patients’ chemotherapy even when the threat has lessened, the New York Times reports. With maintenance therapy, some in the medical and drug industries say, it may be possible to treat cancer as a chronic disease, with tumors kept under control longer. But others say it’s not proven and could do more harm than good.

They warn that maintenance therapy could mean more side effects and bigger expenses for patients, while perhaps increasing tumors’ resistance to a drug. “Generally more is better,” notes a researcher, but “there are numerous kinds of cost to the patient, to the health system, to give these drugs over the longer term.” Another expert says pharmaceutical firms are pushing the idea so their products are used earlier and longer.