The cancer death rate throughout North Carolina and the rest of the nation has been falling for the past few decades. According to some medical experts, however, many patients continue to be overtreated for the disease.
The annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology was held in Chicago in June, and several professionals presented studies demonstrating that doctors need to change their treatment approach to many cancers. For example, one study found that women who are diagnosed with early-stage hormone-positive, HER-2 negative breast cancer do not benefit from chemotherapy. Researchers determined that anti-hormone therapy is enough. Meanwhile, scientists from France found that heated chemotherapy, which was introduced 15 years ago, does nothing for patients with severe colon cancer. Finally, a study found that surgery does not help patients with advanced kidney cancer. Removing the kidney just adds pain and expense to a patient's final weeks of life.
Experts say that many other cancer treatments likely cause more harm than good. However, lengthy studies are needed to determine which ones should be dropped, and there is limited money to fund such research. The U.S. government has significantly reduced its funding for cancer studies, and drug companies are only interested in sponsoring studies that help get their medications on the market. As a result, many cancer studies are being funded in Europe.
Cancer overtreatment can tax a patient's body and lead to a worsened medical condition. In some cases, this situation could warrant a medical malpractice complaint. If it can be shown that a doctor failed to provide a patient the medical standard of care, the doctor could be ordered to pay damages. An attorney could review a patient's case and recommend the best way to reach a settlement.