Mondays at 8.30am, repeated at 8.00pm
with Norman Swan
18 April 2005
An Australian study suggests that the benefits of chemotherapy have been over-sold. Norman Swan talks to Associate Professor Graeme Morgan who’s a radiotherapist at Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney and to Professor Michael Boyer who’s Head of Medical Oncology at the Sydney Cancer Centre, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.
Norman Swan: Good morning Fran and welcome to the program. This morning on the Health Report globalisation writ small. Why go down the road for your surgery when you can avoid the waiting lists, get it cut price in another country and have a holiday with the money you’ve saved? A personal story involving new knees coming up.
And, has cancer chemotherapy, the use of drugs to treat malignancies been oversold? That’s the clear implication of a paper published by some Australian cancer specialists, two of whom, perhaps non-coincidentally are radiation oncologists – radiotherapists.
Anyway in this summary of evidence, the assertion is that chemo has only added about 2% to cancer survival. The lead author is Association Professor Graeme Morgan who’s at Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney. Is this, I wondered, an in house battle, the revenge of the radiotherapists?
Graeme Morgan: Well one could cynically say that but the reason I did it was that we were sick and tired of hearing about these new drugs and it wasn’t really cementing into anything. And the reason for my doing the paper was to really show that there hasn’t been any improvement in survival, or the improvement has been very, very modest despite all these new drugs and new combinations and bone marrow transplants.
Norman Swan: So what did you do in this study?