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Friday, October 30. 2015
Here is an update on the good news about treating cancers: A critical mass of medical knowledge could soon end the death threat of cancer, but politics stands in the way
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Conflating commonality with normality tends to reduce one's already low credibility. Abnormally bad commentary is not uncommon either, for example.
Wow, especially because the data disproves this odd, tossed-off assertion. http://www.amazon.com/The-China-Study-Comprehensive-Implications/dp/1932100660, just for starters.
I'd like to see what they can do about Multiple Myeloma. I have that cancer. No surgery, no radiation, must use chemo since the cancer is in all my bones. Prognosis is on a Bell Curve, from five years up to twenty. I don't think I'll see the twenty, even with God's help.
Multiple myeloma is a cancer that forms in a type of white blood cell called a plasma cell. Plasma cells help you fight infections by making antibodies that recognize and attack germs. Multiple myeloma causes cancer cells to accumulate in the bone marrow, where they crowd out healthy blood cells. Rather than produce helpful antibodies, the cancer cells produce abnormal proteins that can cause kidney problems.
Not to mention osteoporosis. Yes, ironic, the cancer challenges my kidneys (I suffered complete renal failure a year and a half ago, couple months on dialysis and they recovered).
Any of the chemo I have taken, one side effect is it challenges my kidneys too.
He's right that more can be done than is done to treat some (maybe many) cancers.
But he's generalising way too much. Cancer isn't one disease, it's a wide variety of conditions, some of which are more treatable than others, and some of which can't (yet?) be treated at all.
He's also wrong in claiming that the failure to treat more patients is solely or even mostly due to government regulations preventing treatments from reaching patients.
From what I've experienced in my family, in no small part it's a problem of diagnosis in large part.
People (still) get diagnosed way too late, months or years past the moment where successful treatment would have been possible, because doctors and nurses don't recognise the symptoms for what they are, either dismiss them out of hand or consistently misdiagnose them as other things.
Which is at least in part to blame on nurses and doctors rarely if ever looking beyond their own narrow specialisations when diagnosing symptoms.
A neurologist will try to interpret anything he sees in a patient as a neurological disorder for example, often fumbling along for months or even years trying to cure something using only his own specialisation that's something else entirely.
Which is ultimately what killed my mother. Her cancer was a year past being treatable by the time she was sent for cancer testing (and then the wrong cancer) when an X-ray for something else entirely showed a weird lump in her body.
For that year she'd had symptoms of lymphoma that an oncologist would have recognised but the nurses and doctors she saw 3 times a week for several hours during her dialysis sessions consistently misinterpreted those as being side effects of the dialysis because they failed and refused to think outside the box.
No amount of research in new drugs and other treatment mechanisms is going to stop that, but there's no glamour in education campaigns so they don't happen.
Wenting — I have similar story. For about a year my doctors addressed muscle and cartilage pains, got as far as Chondritis.
Correct as far as they went, the symptoms of Myeloma include inflamed cartilage and muscle spasms. Orthopedics, therapists, tried a lot of things to rehab me, stayed inside their own boxes. When my kidneys failed a sharp nephrologist suggested "Hey, did you look for any cancer?" and an oncologist examined me for ten minutes and pronounced "Yep, he's got the cancer".
I don't hold with this conspiracy theory that doctors are prevented from treating patients by Big Pharma or Big Brother. It is as you say, lack of education and cross-training. I am also not saying that the outcome would have been any different but c'mon, almost a year to reach a correct diagnosis?
My wife and I went to a Cancer Retreat last month, were approx. three hundred folks surviving or succumbing to cancer; wonder how many of 'em have similar experiences?
Whoops, sorry I'm rambling a bit, understandably this is a topic that concerns me greatly.
Post script. Thank you all for bearing with me. Perhaps some lessons can be learned from mine and Wenting's experiences.
My missus has held up in an outstanding manner. It shook us both up but while I was in a weakened state and as I recover she has been strong. I am blessed with her.
I’m doing alright. No bitterness or resentments. I have lived a full life and made my share of mistakes (well, maybe more than my share) but I am not running scared on this.
I have most of my health and a positive attitude and I’m damn sure not gonna sit on the couch whimpering. If I live for ten years or drop dead tomorrow, so be it. I have peace within. Strong wife and family, a healthy spiritual life, comfortable living conditions, what more do I need?
God has given me a bitter cup from which to drink and it is well. God's will.
pharmaceutical companies have little to do with it if anything. Cancer drugs bring them a lot more income than the painkillers terminal patients get given instead so they have no incentive to "block treatment" (and even if, a doctor would need to willingly violate his oath to do that).
Government, I can see them doing it, especially in countries with socialized healthcare.
Patient dead, budget not exceeded, is after all an important driver in such systems.
Especially with elderly patients, the trend at least here is ever more to not treat them to save money. Younger patients do get treated for the same conditions because they're still capable of paying a lot of money in income taxes after being restored to health.
I don't doubt that the FDA prevents or unnecessarily delays useful and promising drugs from reaching market. Another problem drugs face in their journey from the lab to the doctor is the legal tort law system where a useful drug can be banned for no other reason than that every side effect was not carefully and fully enumerated. But I have to submit that this is not a new story and presumably the very lifesaving drugs that many doctors were lamenting were being held up by the FDA made it to the market and still cancer hasn't been significantly slowed.
Which brings me to my next comment; that is that we have made significant progress with "curing" cancer. In general we have not. The reason for this paradox is the way "cure" is defined, i.e. no reoccurrence/death in five years. What HAS happened is better diagnoses and earlier discovery of cancer. This means that in the past where we may have discovered lung cancer in a 65 year old man who would then die at age 66 today we discover the very same cancer at age 60 and the patient is still alive at age 65. Voilà! the patient passed the magic five year test and we pat ourselves on the back for making great strides in curing cancer; please donate to the cause now.
Simply discovering it earlier and thus stretching out the period in which it is known is not meaningful progress.
Having said that I must add that there are legitimate cases where early discovery results in medical tratment that rids the body of cancer. HOWEVER these are generally the cancers that lend themselves to the "cut, burn or poison" treatments and NOT the cancer that are the most deadly and most feared. Today, just like 30 years ago, a diagnoses of lung cancer (smokers cancer) is a death sentence. They can treat the hell out of it and spend a lot of money doing so but the life expectancy is not significantly increased and the quality of life is typically significantly decreased by the treatments.
Every year we hear about the pending breakthrough on treating/curing cancer (usually accompanied by a request for more donations to the cure). Every year the previous breakthroughs are not discussed or brought up. Cancer is still the number one killer in the first world. Very little has changed. I am confident that this doctor too, in spite of his sincerity and hope, is no more right in his arguement than the previous hundred or so claims of great cures on the horizon.