This medical video focuses on the safety of taking a holiday from chemotherapy treatment.
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Joel Johnson: Loss of hair has come back ... Fingernails, toenails, that's back. Jennifer Matthews: It's been seven months since Joel Johnson stopped the weekly treatments that keep his cancer in remission. Joel Johnson: Since I've been off, my strength has come back quite a bit. Jennifer Matthews: The upset stomach is gone, and so is the shortness of breath. Until recently, doctors worried the so-called drug holidays would allow the cancer to become resistant. Dr. Tom Beer: We really have not known whether it's safe to stop the treatment in patients in whom chemotherapy is working. Jennifer Matthews: To find out, Dr. Beer allowed eight patients to take a break from chemotherapy. Dr. Tom Beer: We monitored the PSA, which is a blood test we use to monitor prostate cancer. As soon as it began to go up, we restarted the treatment. Jennifer Matthews: In every case, Dr. Beer says the cancer responded. The average break lasted five months, and now some of those patients have had three or four breaks. Joel's cancer is starting to come back. Soon he'll go back on chemotherapy. That's OK he says. He's already looking forward to his next drug holiday. This is Jennifer Matthews reporting.