Watcher (2018) delves into the problems associated with miracle cancer cures, focusing on the impact that it has on the patients as well as the caregivers. Watcher looks at his personal experiences caring for patients with advanced cancer and the challenges that the introduction of miracle cancer cures poses in his practice. He highlights how the hospital stay is a crucial time when patients opt for palliative care having recognized the little to no hope that exists in curing their cancer. Watcher notes that while palliative care has proven to be effective in alleviating pain, improving comfort, and in some cases prolonging life, new generation cancer treatments have served to disturb the balance that doctors had so long enjoyed in the delivery of care. While some of these treatments have been associated with terms such as “cure” and “revolutionary”, they have not been found to work every time. Citing his personal experiences, Watcher cotes that only 15% of patients with advanced cancer will respond to these new treatments since it is very difficult to predict those who will benefit from the treatments and those who will not. Watcher concludes by recommending two courses of action, i.e., the incorporation of palliative care into aggressive treatment regimens for patients, and the training of doctor in handling conversations associated with the new cancer treatments.
The author has highlighted the challenge that the new cancer treatments pose to his practice caring for patients with advanced cancer. Watcher argues that while the new cancer treatments can be considered to be revolutionary, the low percentage of patients that respond to these treatments provides a false hope for most patients with advanced cancer. Only a few of the advanced cancer patients ever respond to these new treatments, which negatively affects those who experience a failure in response since by that time they have opted for the aggressive treatment as opposed to palliative care.
Watcher concludes that while there is a significant amount of resources and finances directed towards the Cancer Moonshot program, the slow but gradual advancements made with regards to research may come too late for some patients. There is a need to incorporate palliative care into aggressive cancer treatments.
Watcher has identified negative experiences from patients as the purpose of writing the article. He cites his experiences where patients have landed back in hospital as a result of a cancer relapse, leaving them with intractable pain and difficulty in breathing. For some of this patients, pursuing the new cancer treatments leads them back in the hospital.
The author has not employed outside and scholarly sources to support his arguments and claims. However, the author has cited his own personal experiences providing care to advanced cancer patients. While this evidence is arguably subjective, it can be considered to be reliable to some extent, given their professional credentials as an oncologist.
I agree with the conclusions of Watcher because of the impact that purely aggressive treatments have on the quality of the life of the patient in their final moments. The introduction of the new generation cancer treatments will inherently drive advanced cancer patients to seek aggressive treatment over palliative care. As human beings are inherently configured to seek survival, the pursuit of aggressive treatment over palliative care may negatively impact the quality of the patient’s life, one that may have been improved with palliative care.
From personal experience, a 50-year-old woman with advanced lung cancer opted to pursue a new immunotherapy treatment as opposed to palliative care that she had been pursuing one and a half years. After a few months of success, the patient relapsed and was in a state of pain that was far much worse than prior to ceasing palliative care.