Cancerfighter’s Weblog

Alternative cancer therapies and ideas

Improved chemotherapy success rates?

Posted by Jonathan Chamberlain on February 28, 2011

Cancer? There’s a lot of info on this site – do browse. This supports and extends the info and critical discussion in my two cancer books – see for details

Improved chemotherapy success rates?

Roaming the internet, one comes across a myriad of articles discussing chemotherapy and its success or otherwise in treating cancer. One that caught my eye suggested that chemotherapy success rates had been substantially boosted by some new approach. Naturally I read further, wondering what had had this boosting effect. It turned out that that the new technique involved giving chemo to fewer patients!

That’s right.

In fact I could make a suggestion that would boost chemo’s success rates exponentially from it’s current level of about 7-10% to 50-60% overnight.

Now what does that 7-10% mean? It means that 7-10% of the people who are given chemo benefit. These are the official figures (from the USA). Since we know that 75% of cancer patients are given chemo, we can see that only 5-7.5% of all cancer patients (not just cancer patients who receive chemo) can benefit from chemo.

Interestingly, this is not a random game – we also know what kinds of cancers these 5-7.5% of cancer patients have. We also know that it is the younger people who have these cancers who benefit most. The older you are the less likely you are to benefit.

So here’s my crazy revolutionary idea. Why not just give chemo to the 5-7.5% of cancer patients (OK, let’s say 10%) who are most likely to benefit. This would boost chemo’s success rates to 50-75% (ie a ten fold increase over night) – and at the same time reduce the pain and damage caused by chemo to patients who have no possibility of being cured by this means.

I should say something here about what ‘benefit’ means. In the article I read they talked about ‘response rates’. A response rate merely means that the tumour has shrunk significantly. Sadly there is absolutely no correlation between tumour shrinkage and increased lifespan for the patient. Chemo generally has the effect of making cancers more aggressive – so when it stops shrinking and starts growing again it does so at a faster rate.

If you are considering chemotherapy for your cancer I would advise you to read the comments on this page


Note: The Cancer Survivor’s Bible (2012) is now available – see

“I wish I had read this book before I was diagnosed. My doctor and the cancer charities didn’t tell me any of this.”



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