Chemo won't work if not adhered to

SINGAPORE - Skipping scheduled chemotherapy sessions can result in dire consequences.

Dr Ang Peng Tiam, the medical director and senior consultant of Medical Oncology at the Parkway Cancer Centre, said a patient has to stick to a curative chemotherapy programme once it has been planned.

He said: "If the intent is to cure the cancer, then the chemotherapy will work best if the scheduled sessions are adhered to.

"Once you miss one session, this gives the cancer a chance to develop resistant antibodies to the treatment.

"The case of what doesn't kill them (cancer cells) makes them stronger applies here.

"If you compromise on the design of the programme, you will compromise on the cure rate."

Explained Dr Ang: "It's like if you were prescribed antibiotics to take daily for a week and you choose instead to take one every other day. It will not work."


When The New Paper spoke to two cancer survivor mothers, they had different views on Ms Lily Foo's decision to skip her chemotherapy sessions to support her daughter at the pageant.

Miss Universe Singapore 1975 Sally Tan, 59, survived breast cancer after she was diagnosed with it in 1998.

The housewife said: "When I had cancer, my doctor told me that I had to go for radiotherapy sessions every day for six weeks.

"I did everything I had to do. So I gave up a trip to Sydney, Australia, and told my husband and daughter to go on their own.

"I think Ms Foo should have taken her illness more seriously because saving her life will ensure that she's around longer for her daughter."

But Mrs Natalie Seah, 60, said that being with your child is important as well.

She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010 and beat it after having a mastectomy.

Mrs Seah, a human resource specialist who has a daughter and a son, said: "Maybe Ms Foo feels that she has to support her daughter at the pageant because these things don't come around that often.

"When you miss out on your child's important moments, you can never make up for it."

This article was published on April 12 in The New Paper.Get The New Paper for more stories.