Realistic goals of cancer therapy: Effective and humane care

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Cure is the ultimate goal of antineoplastic therapy, but currently available treatment falls short of this goal in many situations.


To present the general aims of antineoplastic treatment and to discuss specific examples.


The choice of therapy is influenced by the type of cancer, the extent to which it has spread, the effectiveness and toxicity of available therapy, the patient’s performance status, the presence of symptoms, and the patient’s preference. Goals of therapy include cure, prolongation of survival, improvement in quality of life, palliation of symptoms, and prevention of complications.


Establishing the goals of therapy for a patient with cancer is an individualized process. Stopping to consider what one is trying to accomplish can help the physician give effective and humane care.


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