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N Engl J Med. 1991 Apr 25;324(17):1180-5.

Survival and quality of life among patients receiving unproven as compared with conventional cancer therapy.

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  • 1Psychosocial Research Programs, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Cancer treatments without proved efficacy have achieved new levels of popularity, particularly among well-educated patients. The value of these therapies is vigorously debated.

METHODS:

We compared the length of survival and quality of life in patients who received treatment at a prominent unorthodox cancer clinic in addition to conventional treatment and in matched control patients from an academic cancer center who received only conventional treatment. All the patients had documented extensive malignant disease associated with a predicted median survival time of less than one year. The study sample consisted of 78 pairs of patients matched according to sex, race, age, diagnosis, and time from the diagnosis of metastatic or recurrent disease, who were enrolled over a period of 3 1/2 years. Periodic follow-up (approximately every two months) continued until death.

RESULTS:

There was no difference between the two patient groups in length of survival. Median survival for both groups was 15 months (P = 0.22; relative risk, 1.23; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.88 to 1.72). Quality-of-life scores were consistently better among conventionally treated patients from enrollment on.

CONCLUSIONS:

For this sample of patients with extensive disease and for this particular unorthodox treatment regimen, conventional and unorthodox treatments produced similar results.

Comment in

PMID:
2011162
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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