Journey101 Home PageArticles


Home PageSite MapMail To Friend


Contact Us
 TESTING TREATMENTS - BETTER RESEARCH
FOR BETTER HEALTHCARE
CHAPTER II - Excerpt

USED BUT INADEQUATELY TESTED


In Chapter 1 we learned that some new treatments have had harmful effects that were unexpected; the hoped-for effects of others failed to materialise; and some predictions that treatments would not work were proved wrong. This chapter highlights how commonly used treatments may not have been tested adequately. How can this happen? The therapies
advocated for breast cancer – which are often in the news – provide some especially valuable lessons.


WHEN MORE IS NOT NECESSARILY BETTER


Throughout the 20th century and even into the 21st, women with breast cancer have endured some exceedingly brutal and distressing treatments. These treatments – both surgical and medical – far exceeded what was actually required to tackle the disease. But they were also unquestionably
popular with some patients as well as their doctors. Patients were convinced that the more radical or toxic the therapy, the more likely the disease would be conquered. It took courageous doctors and outspoken patient advocates many years to begin to turn the tide of misbelief. They not only had to produce reliable evidence to banish the myth that ‘more is better’, but also suffer the ridicule of their peers and the resistance of eminent practitioners. Even today, fear, coupled with the belief that more must be better, drives treatment choices. This prompts some patients and their doctors to opt for ‘traditional’ mutilating and painful treatments, for which there is no evidence of benefit over simpler approaches. How can this be?


DRASTIC TREATMENT IS NOT ALWAYS THE BEST

‘It is very easy for those of us treating cancer to imagine that better results are
due to a more drastic treatment. Randomized trials comparing drastic treatment
with less drastic treatment are vital in order to protect patients from needless risk and the early or late side effects of unnecessarily aggressive treatment. The comparison is ethical because those who are denied possible benefit are also shielded from possible unnecessary harm – and nobody knows which it will turn out to be in the end.’

Rees G, ed. The friendly professional: selected writings of Thurstan Brewin.
Bognor Regis: Eurocommunica, 1996.




HOME   BLOG   NEWSLETTER   SIGN UP   PRIVACY   SITE MAP   OTHER INFO   CONTACT US
Web Page Info

Designed and Powered by RomWell.net
>