Re: MIRACLE CURE (Faith or Science?)

September 14, 2015 at 11:13 AM

Thank you for the excellent question. This is quite timely, as recent breakthroughs in chemotherapy leave the door wide open for potential miracle cures. The late stages of cancer, with wide spread of metastatic disease all over the body (as to lung, liver, bone, brain) used to guaranty a rapid and certain death, baring a miracle of faith. This is still most often the case today, but not always. New classes of drugs have recently been developed that can, in some cases, cause dramatic remission of late stage cancers. Most often these remissions only last from a few months to up to two years.

However, in truth, no one really knows how long these remissions might last in some patients. This is especially true as these new chemotherapy drugs are now being used early on, in innovative ways, and in combination with more traditional drugs. It takes many years to get definitive studies, so the full potential of these new drugs is actually not currently known. Dying patients cannot wait for extensive studies; so many oncologists are relying on a combination of science, intuition, and experience in attempts to bring about miracle cures. This is what I call the ART OF MEDICINE, and it requires a leap of faith from both doctor and patient to even begin the treatment.

In today’s modern medical environment, the terminal patient in your story could realistically be treated with a new class of drugs, the full potential and effects of which are unknown. She would be a pioneer for that treatment, a study of one. All outcomes would be possible, including permanent remission. Your readers could debate whether it was the drugs or faith that cured your cancer patient.

H.S. Clark, MD

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