Intended for healthcare professionals

Editor's Choice

Too much chemotherapy

BMJ 2016; 355 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i6027 (Published 10 November 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;355:i6027
  1. Fiona Godlee, editor in chief
  1. The BMJ
  1. fgodlee{at}bmj.com

People with cancer are living longer now than 40 years ago. This is clearly good news. But how much of this improvement can we attribute to drug treatment? Not much, concludes Peter Wise this week in an article I humbly suggest all oncologists should read (doi:10.1136/bmj.i5792). The nearly 20% improvement in five year survival over the past four decades is probably mainly due to improved early diagnosis and treatment rather than developments in cytotoxic chemotherapy, he says. And patients are being badly misled by over-enthusiastic accounts of what chemotherapy can achieve. …

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