Dr Bruce Feinberg on Why People Want to See the End of Chemotherapy in Cancer Treatment

New innovations in cancer therapies have people excited to leave behind the treatments of old, but it might not be time yet to throw away chemotherapy, said Bruce Feinberg, DO, vice president and chief medical officer of Cardinal Health Specialty Solutions.

Why are people so quick to herald the end of chemotherapy?
There is a great term coined by an economist, which is “the irrational exuberance of our behavior.” And I think that we’re inclined to that as human beings. That we really have so much zest for that which is new, that which is different, that which we often inflate in terms of its value as being more effective, less toxic, lower risk, better return, no longer palliative, now curative. And we’ve conflated all that into these new classes of drugs, which often are as toxic or more toxic than chemotherapy, not necessarily better than in the general population—thought like chemo, they may be in selected populations.

And so, I think it’s just human nature that has led to that. But particularly, because when chemo was the only option, and given its toxicity profile, as many drugs have, it just got this bad rap, that we need to advance, we need to move on, we can do better than this, we don’t need these poisons to be injected into our bodies. But unfortunately, again, there was that negative that was also exaggerated. So, many chemotherapy drugs, when delivered appropriately, don’t carry all that weight, they can be relatively effective in the relevant population, and they may not be terribly toxic.
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