Chart showing life expectancy of cancer patients stirs debate in Turkey
ISTANBULA report prepared by the Turkish Public Health Agency's Department of Cancer outlining the average life expectancy of cancer patients has stirred debate among the country's medical community.
The department shared a presentation on its website titled “Cancer Control in Turkey 2014,” giving the average life expectancy for cancer patients in the form of a survival timeline chart, daily Taraf reported.
The timelines, which were predicted for 13 different cancer types, represents an average, as life expectancy for cancer patients can change due to the patient’s age, the type and aggressiveness of the cancer, effects from other diseases present in the patient and the biology of the tumor, it added.
Reactions to the report have poured in from various authorities, including the Patient Rights Activists Association and the Turkish Medical Association.
Sharing the life expectancy in exact numbers of months was a violation of patients’ rights, as it makes patients lose their motivation and affects the treatment period negatively, the Patient Rights Activists Association said.
Beyazıt İlhan, the general secretary of Turkish Medical Association, also criticized the decision to give life expectancy timelines for patients.
“These are average numbers. If you share them on the website, it will negatively affect patient’s motivation for treatment,” İlhan said.
Neither doctors nor the Health Ministry should give information to a patient about their life expectancy, Oncologist Murat Baş said.
“It is like producing destiny, it is dangerous, because this is average statistical data,” he said.
Pointing out the significance of patient morale, Baş said losing hope can cause patients to halt vital treatment.
“The important thing is not how long their life expectancy is here. It is teaching the patient the ways for them to achieve a high quality and healthy life,” he added.