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Ask fr. Francis: Is it a sin to forgo cancer treatment?

The following is an excerpt from Fr. Francis Ching, CC answers tough questions about the Catholic faith.


Is it a sin for someone to forgo treatment for cancer, if statistically, the chances of survival with treatment is extremely low and the patient does not want to go through the pain of ineffective chemo? If someone raises this idea to a loved one to consider, would that be a sin?

Fr. Francis' answer:

Whether it is a sin or not is not clear cut. It depends on a number of factors. I hope the following considerations may enlighten you.

A cure is when reasonable hope exists that a sickness will be healed. A treatment is when there is no certain cure, but the pain may be eased, or symptoms controlled or reduced, or the body may be given a chance to reduce or overcome the sickness.

Cures should always be sought if they exist and are feasible. Treatments, however, depend on if the benefits exceed the suffering they may incur.

Treatments that have reasonable hope to succeed, that the pain it causes will subside after a reasonable period of time, that will significantly remove the patient from danger of death, that will gain for the patient more functionality and autonomy, etc., are treatments that should be sought when feasible.

Read the full answer here!

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