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Question
Posted by: Juan | 2010/11/17

Leukemia

Hi Doc,

My father in law, 63, has been diagnosed with Leukemia. The Dr said he has had it for a couple of years already, as he is showing many of the symptoms already i.e. tiredness, not eating, blotches on skin, pain in joints etc. He currently also has emphasemia with around a 10% lung capacity, he is on a oxygen machine for around 18 hours a day.

The oncologist want to start with chemo next week and repeat it every 3 weeks for a couple of months.

What we want to know is, is it worth it for him to do the chemo, based on his current state of health. I know that the chemo takes a lot out of a persons body, will his body be able to withstand it. He does not want to suffer, and has told us that. I think that he would prefer to rather be at home for a short time than be in the hospital and live for a long time. I just want to make sure that the dr has given him the best advise.

thanks

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberDoc

Dear Juan
This is one of those difficult decisions that the patient himself must make - no one can decide for another person if it is worth the cost or side effects. Some people will spend a lot of money and cope with bad side effects to win 6 months of longer life, others feel that the quality of life is more important and they would rather live a shorter life but with less side effects. I think you should sit down with the oncologist, determine how much time he will win with chemotherapy (is it going to heal him or just reduce symptoms), what effects will it have on his shortness of breath, will it reduce his quality of life, can he afford the suggested treatment? Only if he has all the facts, can he make an informed decision on how he would like to be treated.
Dr Bets

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Our users say:
Posted by: Cyberdoc | 2010/11/17

Dear Juan
This is one of those difficult decisions that the patient himself must make - no one can decide for another person if it is worth the cost or side effects. Some people will spend a lot of money and cope with bad side effects to win 6 months of longer life, others feel that the quality of life is more important and they would rather live a shorter life but with less side effects. I think you should sit down with the oncologist, determine how much time he will win with chemotherapy (is it going to heal him or just reduce symptoms), what effects will it have on his shortness of breath, will it reduce his quality of life, can he afford the suggested treatment? Only if he has all the facts, can he make an informed decision on how he would like to be treated.
Dr Bets

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