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In reality, only 2 major reasons exist for administering chemotherapy to most patients with metastatic cancer: to help them live longer and/or to help them live better. In exchange for treatment-related toxic effects (as well as substantial time, expense, and inconvenience), chemotherapy can prolong survival for patients with a variety of—though not all—solid tumors. Chemotherapy may also improve quality of life (QOL) for patients by reducing symptoms caused by a malignancy. In this issue of JAMA Oncology, Prigerson and colleagues1 report some troubling trial results: chemotherapy administered to patients with cancer near the end of life achieved neither goal.
Blanke CD, Fromme EK. Chemotherapy Near the End of LifeFirst—and Third and Fourth (Line)—Do No Harm. JAMA Oncol. 2015;1(6):785-786. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2015.2379