Cancer Care Myths

Below are excerpts from a recent Health Affairs paper by Goldman and Philipson (2014):

  • Myth #1: The War on Cancer has been a failure.  Survival rates for all cancers increased by almost four years during the period 19882000.
  • Myth 2: Detection, Not Treatment, Accounts For Most Of The Survival Gains.  During 19882000 almost 80 percent of the aforementioned survival gains were attributable to improvements in treatment, with the remaining 20 percent attributable to better detection.
  • Myth 3: Treatment Costs Are Unsustainable. …the focus should be on the price of health, not the price of health care services. [For example], HAART, which was introduced in the 1990s, dramatically increased longevity for HIV-positive patients, although at a significant financial cost to these patients…Ultimately, more than 93 percent of the benefits of developing the new treatment accrued to patients in the form of longer lives, rather than to manufacturers.
  • Myth 4: Cancer Treatment At The End Of Life Is Of Low Value.  One study estimated that patients with metastatic disease value treatment at levels twenty-three times higher than the cost of the therapy…coverage decisions based solely on median survival will neglect the great social value for a minority who live long after the trial ends.
  • Myth 5: Supportive Care is Overused.  Supportive care enables the administration of more aggressive chemotherapy regimens by avoiding or managing the debilitating effects of the toxicity.


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