Tag Archives: clinic

Cancer Treatment and Health Care Reform

Blogged by: BarbaraOBrien1

One argument you may hear against health care reform concerns cancer survival rates. The United States has higher cancer survivor rates than countries with national health care systems, we’re told. Doesn’t this mean we should keep what we’ve got and not change it?

Certainly cancer survival rates are a critical issue for people suffering from the deadly lung mesothelioma cancer. So let’s look at this claim and see if there is any substance to it.

First, it’s important to understand that “cancer survival rate” doesn’t mean the rate of people who are cured of a cancer. The cancer survival rate is the percentage of people who survive a certain type of cancer for a specific amount of time, usually five years after diagnosis.

For example, according to the Mayo Clinic, the survivor rate of prostate cancer in the United States is 98 percent. This means that 98 percent of men diagnosed with prostate cancer are still alive five years later. However, this statistic does not tell us whether the men who have survived for five years still have cancer or what number of them may die from it eventually.

Misunderstanding of the term “survivor rate” sometimes is exploited to make misleading claims. For example, in 2007 a pharmaceutical company promoting a drug used to treat colon cancer released statistics showing superior survival rates for its drug over other treatments. Some journalists who used this data in their reporting assumed it meant that the people who survived were cured of cancer, and they wrote that the drug “saved lives.” The drug did extend the lives of of patients, on average by a few months. However, the mortality rate for people who used this drug — meaning the rate of patients who died of the disease — was not improved.

But bloggers and editorial writers who oppose health care reform seized these stories about “saving lives,” noting that this wondrous drug was available in the United States for at least a year before it was in use in Great Britain. Further, Britain has lower cancer survival rates than the U.S. This proved, they said, the superiority of U.S. health care over “socialist” countries.

This is one way propagandists use data to argue that health care in the United States is superior to countries with government-funded health care systems. They selectively compare the most favorable data from the United States with data from the nations least successful at treating cancer. A favorite “comparison” country is Great Britain, whose underfunded National Health Service is struggling.

It is true that the United States compares very well in the area of cancer survival rates, but other countries with national health care systems have similar results.

For example, in 2008 the British medical journal Lancet Oncology published a widely hailed study comparing cancer survival rates in 31 countries. Called the CONCORD study, the researchers found that United States has the highest survival rates for breast and prostate cancer. However, Japan has the highest survival for colon and rectal cancers in men, and France has the highest survival for colon and rectal cancers in women. Canada and Australia also ranked relatively high for most cancers. The differences in the survival data for these “best” countries is very small, and is possibly caused by discrepancies in reporting of data and not the treatment result itself.

And it should be noted that Japan, France, Canada and Australia all have government-funded national health care systems. So, there is no reason to assume that changing the way health care is funded in the U.S. would reduce the quality of cancer care.

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Filed under Austrailia, Cancer, Culture, England, France, Health, Health Care Reform, Japan, Medicine, Mesothelioma, News, Opinions, Uncategorized, Women's Issues, World

Thousands Show up for Free Medical Treatment in Houston

Posted by Guest Contributor Libby Shaw

Hundreds of people lined up for free medical care in Houston on Saturday morning.

Hundreds of people lined up for free medical care in Houston on Saturday morning.

Yesterday in Houston nearly 2000 folks came to Reliant Stadium for, in some cases, desperately needed medical treatment. Shamefully, Texas has the highest rate of uninsured people in the country. The story is particularly ugly in Houston where 1 in 3 adults are uninsured.

Dr. Oz who runs the free health clinic compared the number of uninsured, untreated people as a national disaster comparable to that of Hurricane Katrina. According to him, Houston and the rest of Texas, a health care Katrina happens everyday.

Despite the shameful statistics on the lack of health coverage, our elected U.S. Republican lawmakers John Cornyn, Kay Bailey Hutchison, and in my case, John Culberson (Houston-7), continue to wage war against health care reform. As with Katrina while the world watched, Republicans showed they were not in the least bit concerned about the hurricane’s victims, some of whom horribly drowned and others who, to this very day, are displaced. Republican behavior with health care reform is exactly the same. The message: Let ’em eat Advil or drop dead. It ain’t our problem. Me and mine are just fine.

When not running free health clinics Dr. Oz is a professor of cardiac medicine at Columbia University. He also hosts a TV show about health issues at 3:00 p.m., M-F. Needless to say, the doctor’s show is very popular.

More from Libby @ daily kos logo

The Doctor Oz Show

National Association of Free Clinics

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Filed under Democrats, Media and Entertainment, Medicine, Politics, Republicans, TV Shows, Uncategorized