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Published: 13 years ago
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Doctors milk dying cancer patients for every last dollar

Doctors milk dying cancer patients for every last dollar

by Tony Isaacs

In what many might consider to be greed and patient abuse, terminal cancer patients are frequently given harsh chemotherapy drugs and radiation treatments months after they have been diagnosed as hopeless.  In many instances such treatments continue up until the moment of death.  In effect, mainstream doctors hang onto cancer patients and cause needless added suffering until there is no money left and little hope or time for alternative treatments.

A study published last September in the journal Cancer found that radiation treatments were given to 91 percent of dying cancer patients.  Half of those patients spent more than 60 percent of their remaining lifespan undergoing radiation treatments and most were unable to complete their treatments because they died.  The study also found that the treatments usually did not reduce pain and usually actually increased pain.

The figures for chemotherapy drugs are equally alarming. About one in five dying cancer patients are given chemotherapy within 14 day of their deaths. One-third of terminal cancer patients are not sent to a hospice until they have less than three days left to live.  In all, 25% of Medicare expenses for terminal cancer patients are spent in the last month of their lives. 

Perhaps those figures help explain some other disconcerting figures about cancer treatment in the United States. One example is the fact the United States spends twice as much per person for cancer care, yet has no better survival rates than other countries that spend less.  Another is the fact that oncologist salaries have increased 86% in the past 10 years even though the number of patient visits has increased by only 12%.  Notably, the large majority of most oncologists’ income is derived from markups on chemo drugs.

Far too often there may be an even darker side to doctors hanging on to cancer patients they had given up on besides the needless suffering and expense: preventing the chance of a cure outside mainstream treatments.  Though not recognized by mainstream medicine, natural and alternative cancer treatments are often successful when mainstream medicine has admitted defeat.  However, the longer a person is kept on mainstream treatments the less chance they have of finding success with alternative treatments.

Radiation destroys the immune system, especially the bone marrow that lies at the very heart of the immune system. It is the immune system which heals cancer and keeps it at bay - not radiation or chemotherapy drugs which merely treat the symptoms (tumors) of cancer.  Radiation and chemo alike often inflict major damage on healthy cells and organs, further weakening the body and in many instances causing damage so severe that it ends up killing the patient.  It is a sad fact that in many forms of cancer, more patients die of liver and heart failure than are saved by chemo or radiation.

Part of the problem lies in the fact that oncologists are reluctant to admit to patients that they have been diagnosed as terminal.  Instead, the patients hear optimistic reports about “response rates” and “tumor reductions” without being told that initial responses and tumor reductions are common, whereas actual cures are not.

Another problem is the willingness of the insurance and Medicare systems to pay for hopeless treatments long after the doctors have given up hope.  The biggest problem, however, is doctors and the cancer industry failing to look at cancer patients as human beings who need and deserve to be cared for properly and told the truth instead of being looked at as profit centers they can milk to line their pockets.

Sources included:


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