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September 5, 1980

Chemotherapy's negative aspects: whose concern?

JAMA. 1980;244(10):1084-1085. doi:10.1001/jama.1980.03310100008004

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Although the recent National Institutes of Health consensus development conference on adjuvant chemotherapy for breast cancer was charged only with answering medical questions, two of the panel members raised some emotional and social issues that are associated with chemotherapy. As use of this treatment becomes more widespread, these problems will require further consideration.

Barbara Chambers was the "consumer representative" on the panel. She had breast cancer about two years ago and chose to undergo chemotherapy. After listening to two days of discussion on the statistical problems and results of the clinical trials, she asked whether any of the oncologists had studied the psychological and social repercussions of adjuvant chemotherapy.

George Blumenschein, MD, of M. D. Anderson Hospital and Tumor Institute, Houston, replied that he finds physicians to be "largely ignorant" of these effects. "Patients put their best foot forward when they talk to the doctor," he said. "Then they discuss