Informed consent has been defined as: “Permission granted in full knowledge of the possible consequences, typically that which is given by a patient to a doctor for treatment, with knowledge of the possible risks, benefits and alternatives!!”
As we know, Chemotherapy is one of the three generally prescribed ‘conventional treatment options’ for most people diagnosed with cancer, along with surgery and radiation. With ‘informed consent‘ in mind, let us look for one moment about some of what we do know about the ‘efficacy of Chemotherapy’, around achieving the desired results of killing cancerous cells:
- Chemotherapeutic drugs have more of a ‘hand grenade‘ effect by killing both healthy and diseased cells simultaneously;
- In the context of ‘collateral damage‘, our immune system can be totally killed off by chemo drugs;
- Cancer stem cells, possess properties of self-renewal and intrinsic survival mechanisms, that contribute to resistance of tumors to many chemotherapeutic drugs;
- In cancer treatment, tumors often respond well initially, followed by rapid regrowth and then resistance to further chemotherapy;
- Chemo drugs have many undesirable side effects, with some of these effects presenting well after treatment has finished; which have been known to cause long term and often debilitating health related issues.
Informed consent is related to the legal concept of “failure to warn”
The informed consent process is designed as a mechanism for the individual to protect themselves against harm. By weighing up the risks versus the benefits and with the alternatives having been outlined, this enables the individual to then make a fully informed decision on what they feel is the best course of treatment for them.