Cancer drugs, survival, and ethics

Wise, P.H. (2016) BMJ. 355:i5792

Despite considerable investment and innovation, chemotherapy drugs have had little effect on survival in adults with metastatic cancer. Peter Wise explores the ethical issues relating to research, regulation, and practice

Cancer survival has improved in recent decades. Trends in the US show that five year relative survival in adults with solid cancer has increased from 49% to 68% over 40 years. There have been important advances in chemotherapy in recent years, including for melanoma, medullary thyroid cancer, and prostate cancer. Immunotherapy, together with targeted and precision (personalised) approaches guided by patient and tumour biomarkers, also produces benefit in subgroups of the more common cancers. But how much of the improvement in cancer survival can we attribute to drugs?

Read the full discussion here

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