Barton A Kamen, MD, PhD
It is both embarrassing and frustrating for me as a physician to see the recent flurry of reports in the lay press about end of life care for patients with cancer. This is likely the result of the American Society of Clinical Oncology providing material to help oncologists talk with patients about terminal disease.
I get this question all the time and for decades taught second year medical students in the pharmacology course about chemotherapeutic drugs. I would remind them that killing a cancer cell growing in a bottle was easy and that there was no such thing as drug resistance. However as physicians we do not kill cancer cells growing in a bottle, but we do treat patients with cancer, and that is much harder to do because then terms like drug resistance and chemotherapy toxicity are very important.