The cover story of the 12th October 2015 issue of Time bravely asks, “What if I decide to just do nothing?”
There are some interesting sentiments in the article, that fully align with the values of our DrDIY philosophy of better understanding your health, and owning the outcome of the very personal decisions of health care. A DrDIY approach stands opposed to treatment uniformity, because of a belief that individuals deserve individualized and customized health care, which should be completely understood, internalized, owned, and embraced by a responsible person. Similar beliefs are echoed in O’Connor’s journalism:
Thanks to advances in genomic testing and deeper insights into the biology of different kinds of breast cancer, doctors are learning that the one-size-fits-all approach isn’t working. They’re also learning that every woman brings with her a unique profile of biological risk—as well as a unique appetite for risk. That means that while some women require urgent and aggressive treatment, there are many who can slow down and take a more sparing approach. ~Time, Why Doctors Are Rethinking Breast-Cancer Treatment, by
The fact that we continue to improve diagnostic technologies while cancer treatment results remain unimproved, was another subject that this article exposed. Some doctors are advising patients to wait and watch vigilantly, rather than coming under the knife.
Early detection does not save lives, and it never has…despite the oft-manipulated statistics, and this article does (though stopping short of declaring modernity in medicine a total failure) iterate the fact that breast cancer mortality has remained a flat 3% annually for the last fifteen years. We’ve written about taking a slower response that includes studying your options rather than instantly agreeing to chemo or surgery is a prudent way to proceed, and similarly some doctors appear to agree:
Evidence is mounting that aggressive treatments, designed in earnest to save women’s lives, can have unforeseen and sometimes devastating consequences.
Call it collateral damage. It’s the multiple follow-up surgeries after a mastectomy and the subsequent infections; the radiation that doesn’t always improve survival and the cancer risk that can come with too much of it; the sometimes unnecessary chemotherapy and its life-sapping side effects. For some in the field, that collateral damage is getting harder and harder to justify. ~Time,Why Doctors Are Rethinking Breast-Cancer Treatment, by
The fact that modern cancer treatment is toxic, has finally gotten some press and we need to hear more about this in the future. Killing the patient with the cure is bad medicine that violates the principle of “First Do No Harm.” If you, or someone you love discovers they have cancer there are more choices than ever and some doctors (thankfully) are willing to explore them with you, regardless of how long it takes to review and evaluate them.