Colorectal Cancer Part 4: A Story of How a Patient is Being Misled by His Oncologist

Chris Teo, Ph.D.

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My experiences with cancer patients do not support the perception that chemotherapy guarantees survival from colon cancer - that is to say, without it patients die. I have seen too many cases of chemo-failures to believe that.

I must add, though, that I am not against chemotherapy per se. When I started CA Care, I insisted that patients go for chemotherapy if asked by his/her doctor. But unfortunately with time, I gathered more wisdom. I now refrain from participating in patients’ chemo-decision. I must say, however, that I am not agreeable to the “indiscriminate" use of chemotherapy. Even more so, if the cards have not been laid out clearly on the table. Unfortunately in some cases, patients are being misled. A clear example is the story below.

Jack (not real name) was a 32-year old male. In April 2002, he suffered abdominal pains. A CT scan on 26 April 2002, indicated cancer of the sigmoid colon with numerous metastases in his liver. He was asked to undergo a surgery and chemotherapy. He was told by his doctor that his chances were 40:60 (what does that mean?)

Jack did not want to do chemotherapy, as suggested by the doctor in Penang. So, he went to Singapore in search for a “better cure. " There in Singapore, an oncologist said this to him: “Since you do not want to do chemo, that is alright. I would only use some chemicals to WASH your liver. " Jack readily agreed. So in July 2002, the Singapore oncologist started this “washing-his-liver procedure" on him. The “procedure" was repeated five times. On 1 October 2002, it was the end of the “washing. " While at home, Jack felt giddy and was unable to eat. He slipped into a coma and had to be rushed to a private hospital in Penang. Emergency procedures were provided and he survived and was hospitalized for about a week. His condition was not good. He could not sit up, the veins in his back were blue-black in colour, his back ached and he was put on morphine. His stomach was bloated and both his legs swelled. He could only breathe through his mouth. He died soon afterwards.

How could the oncologist tell this young man that he is only “washing his liver" in spite of the fact that he had made it clear that he did NOT agree to undergo chemotherapy. He died even before his treatment was completed. Gavin Phillips ( wrote: “Some people think that higher ethical and moral standards are automatically bestowed upon people along with advanced degrees, such as a MD or Ph. D. I wish it was true, but it is not. Doctors are just as likely to lie or cheat for personal gains as anybody else is. It doesn’t matter how many Harvard degrees a person has if they are willing to sacrifice their morals and professional ethics for money or career advancement"

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