What are the pros and cons of treatment and who should be treated?

FAQ Library published on November 22, 2013 in Practice
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Margaret A. Tempero, MD
Professor of Medicine
Department of Medicine
Division of Hematology and Oncology
UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center
San Francisco, California

What are the pros and cons of treatment and who should be treated?
I am Dr. Margaret Tempero, director of the Pancreas Center at the University of California, San Francisco. I am often asked what are the pros and cons of treatment and who should be treated? Pancreatic cancer is a difficult disease and it is a very disabling disease for many patients. Our treatments, usually combination chemotherapy, are best reserved for patients who have a pretty high performance status because they are going to trading some of the symptoms of their disease for some of the side effects of treatment, and we need to be very careful in balancing these things so that we can ensure preservation of quality of life throughout the course of their remaining time. Some of these patients have only a very short time to live, patients who present with ascites usually have a very poor performance status and often do not respond very well to chemotherapy. I tend to use combination chemotherapy in patients who are somewhat younger, who have a very good performance status, and we work very, very hard to make sure that the symptoms and side effects of the treatment are managed as best we can. And then we are very quick to put patients on a chemotherapy holiday once they have good disease control so that they can recover prior to reinitiation of treatment at a later date.
Last modified: August 23, 2013
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