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Surprising Science

Doctors Unaware of Cancer-Treatment Side Effects

Doctors lack the education to help cancer survivors plagued with treatment-related side effects. Cancer survivors are coping with long-term issues that they didn't know existed. 

Article written by guest writer Rin Mitchell

What’s the Latest Development?

Doctors have been clueless about the long-term side effects chemotherapy can have on cancer survivors. When cancer is discovered, the main goal is to provide the necessary treatment to rid the patient of the disease. For many patients that means numerous rounds of chemotherapy and radiation until tests and scans come up free and clear of cancer signs. Nearly 1,100 primary care physicians were surveyed on the long-term effects of four of the most-widely used chemotherapy drugs to treat the two most-common types of cancer: breast and colorectal. Only six percent of primary care physicians and 65 percent of oncologists were aware of the side effects. Why aren’t these numbers higher? Cancer survivorship is a new area and physicians were not medically trained to help survivors dealing with long-term effects. The main focus for doctors has been to keep the patients alive. 

What’s the Big Idea? 

Doctors must be educated on treatment-related problems that can arise in cancer survivors. They need to be trained on how to deal with patients that are dealing with internal and psychological issues. With the success of cancer care, at the start of treatment a plan should be designed to prepare patients for the long-term side effects.


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