Oncology is gradually embracing the approach my father started 50 years ago, focusing on adding years of quality to his patients lives versus destroying tumors at any cost. This concept is managing cancer as a chronic illness.
Most patients, when they first come to treatment, ask me to do whatever it takes to get rid of the cancer. It takes a bit of listening and education to show the benefits of focusing on life and not on cancer. I usually ask questions like:
1. Do you want to live longer than the prognosis you were given?
2. Do you want to minimize negative side effects?
3. Would you be pleased if we could slow down the growth of cancer enough so that you could return to your regular activities and only have to come back occasionally for a booster treatments?
4. Would you like to try a non-aggressive approach that will help you achieve the first three goals versus aggressive treatments that may or may not work but will certainly have debilitating side effects?
From time to time I encountered a patient who told me to be as aggressive as possible with little regards to side effects but most people are more interested in living well by controlling cancer than devastating the quality of life while trying to destroy cancer. My goal for all my patients is to help them live longer and stronger.