The sequential administration of standard chemotherapy regimens to treat metastatic breast cancer may keep patients and oncologists from considering other important, but more psychologically difficult, issues such as the patient's declining health or approaching death. This practice also utilizes health care resources for ever-decreasing individual patient benefit. If generally agreed-upon rules or guidelines were developed about stopping standard chemotherapy after a limited number of regimens, oncologists could recommend treatment discontinuation with greater confidence. Also, resources could be redirected. To inform the development of guidelines on when to stop chemotherapy for metastatic breast cancer, we surveyed fully trained Maryland medical oncologists about their knowledge and beliefs about chemotherapy for metastatic breast cancer. The survey instrument included openended questions and clinical vignettes. There was consensus about the value of first-line chemotherapy. Even though oncologists employed second-line chemotherapy, they were unenthusiastic about it. The frequent utilization of second-line regimens probably reflects an effort to offer marginal regimens to patients who want them. Based on these data, it is suggested that standard chemotherapy be stopped after breast cancer fails to stabilize or respond on a standard regimen. Patients who wish further treatment could be referred for investigational therapy if it is available and if they are eligible.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research