I haven't been blogging for a while. Now I'm ready to tell you the story. Just so you're prepared, the story ends with "in two weeks I'm having brain surgery." Or maybe that's how the story should begin.
The Rising Cost of Cancer Drugs: "New drugs could extend cancer patients’ lives—by days. At a cost of thousands and thousands of dollars. Prompting some doctors to refuse to use them."
Since she is not truly an emergency patient, she is triaged to the back of the line, and other folks, those in immediate distress, get in for treatment ahead of her. She waits on a gurney in a cavernous green hallway. The “chief complaint” on her chart at Grady Memorial Hospital, in Downtown Atlanta, might have set off a wave of nausea in a hospital at a white suburb or almost any place in the civilized world. It reads, “My breast has fallen off. Can you reattach it?” (via Boing Boing) [more inside]
Yesterday, the little-noticed U.S. Preventive Services Task Force caused a stir by releasing new guidelines discouraging routine mammography for women under age 50 and breast self-examinations at any age. (Comparison chart of new and old guidelines here.) The American Cancer Society immediately registered its strong disagreement; meanwhile, the National Breast Cancer Coalition came out in strong support of the new guidelines, saying:
The over-emphasis on the importance of screening, despite a lack of strong evidence, has been elevated to such a degree that some even equate screening with prevention of breast cancer. The National Breast Cancer Coalition hopes that today’s release of the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) revised recommendations will put the brakes on this run-away train and will put screening and its limitations into proper perspective.[more inside]
Edward M. Kennedy, Senator from Massachusetts, has died at age 77. After a rocky youth (including scandals of cheating and reckless driving), Kennedy followed his brothers into politics, making health care his cause, and eventually went on to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Anticipating his own death, he had been trying to create a quick transition for his replacement as a vote on health care reform rapidly approached.
"We're a demonstration project, if you would, of all the things that can go wrong at once." "You know Yolanda, I think most people watching this interview think to themselves that if they get cancer and they don't have health insurance that somebody’s going to take care of them," Pelley remarked. "No, no, there's nobody to take care of you," she said. [more inside]
£35,000-a-year kidney cancer drugs too costly for NHS: Sutent offers to extend a kidney or GIST cancer patient's life by about 26 months, but the British NHS refuses to fund it, citing "marginal benefit at quite often an extreme cost."
RocketBoom's co-founder Andrew Baron found out last week that his father had Multiple Myeloma, and likely less than 48 hours to live. Then a miracle occured. A drug that could save his father's life existed. However the drug was not approved by the FDA to be used this way. They sought and quickly got approval from the FDA. But now, the drug's manufacturer Biogen won't approve usage despite pleas to Biogen's president from Lance Burton, President Clinton, and others. Read this open letter and request for help from Andrew to learn what you can do to save his father's life.
Cheap, safe drug kills most cancers. That's the good news. The bad news is that because there's no patent and it's so cheap to make, researchers may not be able to get funding from the private sector for further research since the treatment wouldn't make a profit. [Via Hullabaloo.]
Cancer Cure Patented A group of researchers claim that they are patenting a possible cure for cancer involving nothing more than sugar and short-chain fatty acid combination.