Skipping Chemo

A lot of breast-cancer survivors are doing it, not always for good reasons

One of the most agonizing choices a patient with a life-threatening illness has to make is when to put quality of life ahead of length of life. Case in point: chemotherapy after breast-cancer surgery. Although the side effects of chemo (among them nausea, fatigue and hair loss) can be brutal, the treatment does work: patients who go through it will, on average, live longer. So I was surprised to read in the current issue of Annals of Internal Medicine that only 29% of breast-cancer patients actually take their doctor's advice and get chemotherapy after surgery. Even more striking was the breakdown...

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