Wall Street Journal Examines ‘Aggressive’ Treatment for Lung Cancer
The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday examined how some doctors are "arguing that it pays to be aggressive -- trying surgery along with other treatments" in treating "inoperable" lung cancers. Traditionally, oncologists have decided not to operate on late-stage lung cancer patients because the surgeon "has made a calculation that the risks of the procedure aren't worth the possible benefits" according to the Journal (Dockser Marcus, Wall Street Journal, 6/29). The five-year survival rate for those with lung and bronchus cancer is 15.4% (Wall Street Journal chart, 6/29). The Journal profiled 45-year-old Lori Monroe, who was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer in September 2001 and has undergone three surgeries, chemotherapy and received an experimental drug designed to stop tumor growth. Monroe's doctors at Vanderbilt University believe that such aggressive treatment has extended her life. Some doctors at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and University of California-San Francisco Comprehensive Cancer Center also believe that aggressive treatment is helpful in treating late-stage lung cancer. However, Dr. David Johnson, deputy director of the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, said he is worried that Monroe's case is so different from accepted medical practice that it is difficult to determine what to do, medically or ethically, according to the Journal. "With each step, you go further out into the swamp. If you go too far, you can fall through," Johnson said (Wall Street Journal, 6/29).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.