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Mesothelioma News Studies Show Post-Surgery Treatments and Excessive Scans Not Always Helpful for Cancer Patients

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

Two separate recent studies have addressed two common aspects of cancer care, raising questions about whether the protocols for treating patients with the disease may need to change in the near future, both lessening side effects and lowering patient costs.

Results of the two studies were released this week in advance of the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s annual meeting in Chicago, which will begin on May 31, reports Bloomberg. The first studied 1,800 men with early-stage testicular cancer, determining that post-surgical radiation or chemotherapy had no significant effect on long-term survival. The men were followed for ten years and it was determined that 99.6 percent of those who didn’t undergo radiation or chemo immediately after surgery were still alive at the end of that period.

The second study involved patients with lymphoma and determined that patients receiving treatment for that disease weren’t necessarily helped by the expensive imaging scans often used after their treatment, especially scans that use radioactive tracers.

Experts say that these studies are among many that are aiming to help cut down on the nasty side effects experienced by cancer patients, including hair loss and DNA damage, and also aim to address the exorbitant costs of dealing with cancer and its treatment.

“The economics of health care and the quality of care are really being looked at more closely than in the past,” stressed Phil Kantoff, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. “Why are you doing this? If the answer is ‘that’s what we do,’ rather than ‘there’s a study that shows we save lives this way,’ that’s not good.”

Often, researchers say, the complications of certain conventional therapies outweigh the benefits. They suggest doctors be more proactive in reviewing studies to determine whether what they prescribe will benefit their patients and/or whether to consider other alternatives or none at all.

Researchers note that lowering treatment costs is also essential, especially given some of the sky-high prices charged for newer cancer drugs. Do to the high cost of treatments, cancer patients are shown to be 2.6 percent more likely to file bankruptcy than others their age who do not have the disease.