Jimmy Carter announced this Sunday that he does not need to continue the treatment for his cancer. The announcement was made in one of his classes at the Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, Georgia.

The ex-president, aged 91, was applauded after the announcement and the information were confirmed in an e-mail by his spokeswoman. However, she also said that doctors will continue to assess Carter’s condition and that he would resume treatment if they see it fit. He has been treated at the Emory University’s Winship Cancer Institute, but the center has not made a formal statement on the subject.

Photo: AP Photo/Statesman.com, Ralph Barrera, Pool
Photo: AP Photo/Statesman.com, Ralph Barrera, Pool

The good news is supposed to be the result of a therapy involving a recently approved drug. Kerytruda is a humanized antibody used in cancer immunotherapy. It helps the system to find and destroy cancer cells. The drug is praised in the medical community, labeled as a breakthrough. There is only one question to be answered; how long can a patient use the drug?

The medical opinion is split in two. One group claims that as longs as there is no negative response from the patient to the drug, the treatment can proceed without pause. However, others say that a time limit must be set in order to avoid secondary effects.

“When you have a drug that’s working to keep cancer at bay, it’s a hard decision to stop,” Tim Turnham, executive director of the Melanoma Research Foundation who is not involved with Carter’s treatment, said. “It really becomes a conversation between the patient and their doctor.”

Cancer diagnosed is seen by many as a death notice and having the advance of the disease stopped is the dream of every patient. The drug has been used for less than ten years, but its results at keeping cancer at bay are not modest. Patients report few side effects which altogether make the decision to stop the treatment very difficult.

Carter usually makes updates on his health status in his classes, it has become a routine among the attendants. In December, he announced that doctors found no cancer in a brain scan.

Ultimately, whether he needs more treatment is in the hands of his doctors.

Source: The Washington Post