advertisement



Q & A Library


Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Q
Declining Cancer Treatment?

I'm interested in the case of the teenager in Virginia who refused chemotherapy in favor of an alternative approach. The judge ordered him to have chemo anyway. Did you follow the case?

A
Answer (Published 9/12/2006)

Yes, I have been reading about this fascinating case. The patient, Starchild "Abraham" Cherrix, 16, was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma, completed a course of chemotherapy, and went into remission. Unfortunately, the cancer returned, and his doctors recommended another round of chemo. But Abraham, who had a terrible time with chemo the first time, declined. His parents supported his decision to try the Hoxsey therapy, an herbal and dietary regimen devised by the late Texas chiropractor and entrepreneur Harry Hoxsey, whose treatments have been banned in the United States but are still available in Mexico.

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging - Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet! - Everything you need to get started eating a healthful, satisfying diet is here - including eating and shopping guides, over 300 recipes, and an exclusive version of Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid! Start your 14-day free trial now - and start eating anti-inflammatory today!

However, Abraham's doctors went to court and on July 21, 2006, a judge ordered the teen to report to the hospital to start chemo. Abraham and his parents then appealed the decision to a higher court. The case ended in a compromise settlement: Abraham can continue with his alternative treatment but has agreed to be monitored by a new oncologist.

This case raises troubling issues. If Abraham were an adult, he would have had the right to make the decision unless he was deemed legally incapacitated. But as a minor, he doesn't have the legal authority to reject treatment.

Regardless of what alternative treatment a teenager (or an adult) chooses, the central issue is whether or not his or her wishes should be respected and under what circumstances a court can justly order a legally competent patient of any age to undergo unwanted treatment. In this case, I'm not sure age should be the only criterion, especially if it can be shown that Abraham fully understands the consequences of such a decision. On the question of choosing an alternative treatment over a conventional one, I appreciate the fact that chemotherapy can be difficult and extremely unpleasant, and may not even work. Unfortunately, however, conventional treatments are the best shot many cancer patients have today.

I'm not a great proponent of alternative cancer treatments (the Hoxsey therapy is one of the better ones), but I'm working hard to develop the new field of integrative oncology. The Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona has graduated oncologists from our fellowship training, including Donald Abrams, M.D., the new director of clinical services at the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center. Integrative oncologists can advise cancer patients about the best combinations of treatments, including natural therapies to reduce the toxicity and increase the efficacy of chemotherapy and radiation therapy. It is the way of the future.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle, LLC on DrWeil.com (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being
in just eight weeks!
Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!
 

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe
Wellness Guide

Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet Food Pyramid
Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you
and their corresponding answers
from Dr. Weil.

 
Copyright © 2014 Weil Lifestyle, LLC
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here