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Cancer Expert Weighs in on Jensen Case

Cancer Expert Weighs in on Jensen Case

Posted - Sep. 3, 2003 at 5:36 p.m.



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Carole Mikita ReportingIn rejecting conventional cancer treatment for their son the Jensens say they're using alternative medicine. Many doctors say both chemotherapy or radiation AND massage or vitamins help patients recover. But they also warn patients or their parents that medical science is clear, some cancers require immediate, intense treatment for survival.

Oncologist Dr. Joseph Simone spent years at St. Jude's Children's Hospital in Tennessee and at the Huntsman Cancer Institute. He has dealt with parental shock, denial, even refusal of any treatment for religious reasons. His advice in this case, there is nothing to negotiate.

Daren and Barbara Jensen say their son Parker no longer has a tumor, therefore he doesn't need chemotherapy or radiation. It’s a common misconception, says Dr. Joseph Simone, one of the country's top cancer consultants. He spoke to KSL by phone from his office in Georgia.

Dr. Joseph Simone: "That's a medical judgment, which they're not qualified to make. They certainly have a right to get other opinions and to explore other forms of treatment if they have some help in interpreting the results of alternative forms of treatment."

As alternatives Parker has had all of his metal fillings removed from his teeth and he's eating only fresh foods. The Jensens say chemo will stunt Parker's growth or make him sterile.

Dr. Simone: "If the disease returns and he doesn't get any treatment he will die. So you don't have to worry about sterility in a case like that."

Other concerns the Jensens talk about are the drugs causing brain or heart disease or a nervous disorder.

Dr. Simone: "They are unlikely to cause any cardiac problem. They are unlikely to cause any central nervous system problem, or learning disorder or anything like that."

Dr. Simone says Parker's form of cancer can be difficult to treat and the idea that 'he looks fine now, why make him sick with drugs', just doesn't hold.

Dr. Simone: "That's not what kills them. What kills them is that working tumor that in a case like Ewing's sarcoma is virtually always there."

And if a cancer is virtually always there, Dr. Simone says, patients often have just one chance to choose the correct treatment or the opportunity is lost. Dr. Simone says sometimes a physician and the parents are at odds with each other. That's what he thinks happened with the Jensens. He suggests they choose another of the more than 100 children's hospitals in the country and go there to help Parker survive.

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