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In Undark: “The Side Effect Roulette of Cancer Treatment”

December 6, 2023

In Undark:

Collected details [about reported side effects of cancer drugs] usually “are not patient-reported outcomes that are directly from the patient — these are interpretations of clinicians,” said Michelle Tregear, chief programs officer at the National Breast Cancer Coalition, a D.C.-based research and lobbying organization. Clinicians often underreport the frequency and severity of symptoms compared with what patients share, research has found…

“Manageable. Tolerable. Adverse events. To who? And are you really getting that from the patient?”

A patient’s tolerance of side effects may vary depending upon their age, how advanced the cancer is, and other circumstances, Tregear said. Patients with early-stage breast cancer may be more willing to accept the treatment’s toxic effects, she said. “They can see an end in sight — the hope is that with these treatments you’re curing it.” As cancer advances, the patient’s focus may be more on quality of life. But, she added, patients should be given better insights into the experience of other patients to better make those treatment decisions.

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