Quality vs Quantity

In this episode of Cancer Covered:  Dr. Mitch Winkler and Dr. Kamal Abbi delve into the complex dynamics of cancer treatment in the palliative setting, exploring the struggle between curative goals and the potential toll aggressive therapies can take on a patient’s quality of life. Kamal highlights the challenges patients and physicians face in understanding the trade-offs between quantity and quality of life. We also discuss the difficult decisions patients and doctors must make when weighing treatment’s benefits and potential harms. The conversation sheds light on the importance of open communication, patient advocacy, and the need for an individualized approach to cancer care.

Dr. Kamal Abbi is a highly experienced medical professional with a diverse background in oncology and hematology. Dr. Abbi completed his medical school in India and pursued his residency in internal medicine at Penn State Hershey. He further specialized in medical oncology with a fellowship at the University of Toledo and a bone and stem cell transplant fellowship at Memorial Sloan Kettering. Having worked as an allogenic and autologous stem cell transplanter for two years, Dr. Abbi transitioned to community oncology practice. Eight years of collaboration with Green Bay Oncology has enriched our approach to cancer treatment.

“Either you beat the cancer, or cancer beats you. So, I think that’s where the struggle between the physician, the patient, and the goal becomes a challenge.
It’s really kind of an all-in move, isn’t it?”
~Dr. Mitch Winkler

This Week on Cancer Covered:

  • Stem cell transplants and bone marrow transplants are aggressive modalities of cancer therapy.
  • Patients facing stem cell transplants often focus on specific time intervals, but the struggle lies in how patients fare between those intervals.
  • The goals of transplant are often curative, which leads to a push for aggressive treatment.
  • Palliative care emphasizes the importance of understanding what patients hope to gain from therapy and what they are willing to risk.
  • Cancer treatment decisions differ based on the possibility of a cure or simply controlling the disease.
  • Patients and families may need clarification about treatment goals and potential outcomes.
  • It\’s essential to balance the desire to live longer with the desire to maintain a good quality of life during treatment.
  • Identifying the tipping point where treatment may cause more harm than help is crucial for patient well-being.
  • Newer non-traditional chemotherapy agents, such as immunotherapies and oral drugs, present unique challenges in determining benefit versus harm.
  • Keeping an open mind about these new agents is vital as their long-term effects are still being understood.

Resources Mentioned:

  • ECOG (Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group) Performance Status: A classification system used to assess a patient’s functional status and ability to carry out daily activities, commonly used in cancer treatment decision-making.

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