“Overall, at least we can say from clinical trial patients that the benefit (of these drugs) is more than the risks,” said Dr. Shenhong Wu, a cancer doctor from Stony Brook University School of Medicine in New York, who wasn’t involved in the new study.
But patients included in large, pre-approval trials may be healthier, or younger, than most people who are expected to ultimately need the drugs – so whether a drug is worth its possible side effects will depend on each individual patient, he added.
“In the real world, patients are complicated; they have all kinds of issues. So the benefits and risks may be different,” Wu said.
Amir told Reuters Health that when patients and their doctors are discussing starting a new treatment, doctors should take into account a patient’s overall health, and not just the cancer. “I wish there were easier decisions that people with cancer had to make, but most of the drugs are toxic,” [Susan] Ellenberg said.
[Eitan] Amir told Reuters Health the analysis should not be seen as a takedown of cancer drugs.
“These are all drugs which improve outcomes, certainly of cancer, and overall survival,” he said. “The only thing we’re trying to highlight is, it’s not as if you’re getting anything for free.”