Tag Archives: patients

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

44-D’s Impact Diaries: Largest-Ever Kidney Swap Donors and Patients Meet

26 Operations Done Over Six Days Gave 13 People New Kidneys In Huge Lifesaving Effort

Posted by Audiegrl

Kidney donors (left to right) Bill Singleton, Lucien Boyd, Sylvia Glaser, Kelvina Hudgens, Pamela Hull and Tom Otten attend a news conference at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington D.C. on Dec. 15. The donors are part of a record-setting 13-way kidney swap, a pioneering effort to expand transplants to patients who too often never qualify.

Kidney donors (left to right) Bill Singleton, Lucien Boyd, Sylvia Glaser, Kelvina Hudgens, Pamela Hull and Tom Otten attend a news conference at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington D.C. on Dec. 15.

Associated Press—Thirteen patients with healthy new kidneys from what’s believed to be the world’s largest kidney exchange met the donors who made it happen Tuesday — including three who are sure to face the question, “Why?”

A hospice nurse who handed homemade cookies to her operating team. A retired stockbroker who had volunteered with the National Kidney Foundation and decided to walk the talk. And a woman inspired by President Barack Obama’s call to volunteer. They all donated a kidney with nothing to gain — they didn’t have a friend or loved one in the marathon chain of transplants that they helped make possible.

It feels wonderful,” Sylvia Glaser, 69, the hospice nurse, said Tuesday at a news conference where most of the donors and recipients met for the first time. “You are giving someone a life, and there is no substitute for that.”

It’s not like I’m doing anything courageous,” Bill Singleton, 62, the kidney foundation volunteer, told The Associated Press before his surgery. “If I don’t volunteer, who will?”

Kidney exchanges widen the pool of potential donors for the hardest-to-transplant patients — minorities as well as people whose immune systems have become abnormally primed to attack a donated kidney. What happens: Patients find a friend or relative who isn’t compatible with them but will donate on their behalf, and the pairs are mixed to find the most matches.

Roxanne Boyd Williams, left, cries as she meets her kidney donor Tom Otten, a suburban St. Louis police officer, in an emotional reunion at the Georgetown University Hospital in Washington D.C. on Dec. 11. Otten's wife, Irene, also received a kidney as part of the donor chain.

Roxanne Boyd Williams, left, cries as she meets her kidney donor Tom Otten, a suburban St. Louis police officer, in an emotional reunion at the Georgetown University Hospital in Washington D.C. on Dec. 11. Otten's wife, Irene, also received a kidney as part of the donor chain.

But a donor whose kidney isn’t directed to a particular patient — a so-called altruistic or non-directed donor — multiplies the number of operations that can be done in a kidney swap. And Dr. Keith Melancon at Georgetown University Hospital had three such donors, people he calls “pieces of gold.”

People keep wanting to know why, why, why,” Glaser, the Gaithersburg, MD, nurse said before her surgery. “It sounds very trite but you pass through this world, and what do you ever do that makes a difference?”

The AP documented weeks of the complex logistics as Melancon’s team initially planned for a 16-way exchange, juggled donors and recipients for the best matches — and emerged with a record-setting exchange: Twenty-six operations over six days this month at Georgetown and nearby Washington Hospital Center.

Ten of the 13 recipients were African-American, Asian or Hispanic. And five were patients who never would have received a kidney under the traditional system, because they needed an extra blood-cleansing treatment to remove those hyperactive immune cells, treatment that only a handful of hospitals in the country offer.

Kidney transplant recipient Solomon Weldeghebriel, second from left, with kidney donor Bill Singleton, right, holds his children Mahor, 5, left, and daughter Simona Weldeghebriel, 3

Kidney transplant recipient Solomon Weldeghebriel, second from left, with kidney donor Bill Singleton, right, holds his children Mahor, 5, left, and daughter Simona Weldeghebriel, 3

I cannot explain in words. I can raise my children now. He gave me life,” said Solomon Weldeghebriel, 42, a Washington cabdriver. Two of his three children wiggled on his lap as he met Singleton, his donor.

The exchange started with a 45-year-old Maryland woman inspired by President Obama. She asked to remain anonymous but told The AP: “I just wanted to help someone out that needed my help, to give them a better life.”

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Filed under African-Americans, Asian/Pacific Islander, Barack Obama, Charity, Health, Health Care Reform, Hispanic/Latino/Latina, Maryland, Medicine, News, Presidents, Uncategorized, United States, Volunteerism, Washington, DC

Let Congress Go Without Insurance by Nicholas D. Kristof

Posted by betham37

Op-ed by Nicholas D. Kristof

Nicholas D. Kristof

Nicholas D. Kristof


New York Times/Nicholas D. Kristof—Let me offer a modest proposal: If Congress fails to pass comprehensive health reform this year, its members should surrender health insurance in proportion with the American population that is uninsured.

It may be that the lulling effect of having very fine health insurance leaves members of Congress insensitive to the dysfunction of our existing insurance system. So what better way to attune our leaders to the needs of their constituents than to put them in the same position?

About 15 percent of Americans have no health insurance, according to the Census Bureau. Another 8 percent are underinsured, according to the Commonwealth Fund, a health policy research group. So I propose that if health reform fails this year, 15 percent of members of Congress, along with their families, randomly lose all health insurance and another 8 percent receive inadequate coverage.

Congressional critics of President Obama’s efforts to achieve health reform worry that universal coverage will be expensive, while their priority is to curb social spending. So here’s their chance to save government dollars in keeping with their own priorities.

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Dad’s Life or Yours? You Choose by Nicholas D. Kristof

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Keith Olbermann To Deliver Hour-Long “Special Comment” On Health Care

KEITH OLBERMANN-SPECIAL-COMMENT HP—Keith Olbermann will deliver an hour-long “Special Comment” on health care Wednesday night, MSNBC announced Tuesday.

Wednesday’s “Countdown” will be devoted entirely to “Health Care Reform: The Fight Against Death.” According to a network release, it will focus on “the need for and meaning of health care reform in the United States” and Olbermann will “propose group action by patients, and how patients can reclaim the debate over health care reform.”

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Bold Progressives for Change would like you to make the following pledge to watch the show.

“I pledge to watch Keith Olbermann’s hour-long Special Comment on health care reform this Wednesday — and to tell 5 of my friends to take this pledge.”

Click here to make the pledge

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Filed under Change, Democrats, Editorial, Media and Entertainment, Medicine, Opinions, Partisan Politics, Politics, Republicans, TV Shows, Uncategorized

Dawn Smith, Brain Tumor Victim: How Her Story Became Rallying Cry For Health Care Reform Supporters

Posted by HershelWallingtonIV

Dawn Smith

Dawn Smith

Four years ago, Dawn was diagnosed with a rare, but treatable brain tumor. CIGNA denied her treatment for more than two years, but now that the spotlight’s on them, they’re changing their tune.

Unfortunately, they didn’t offer any explanation for all the previous denials or a guarantee that they’ll approve the next step in Dawn’s treatment. Can you sign this statement of support to shine a light on Big Insurance’s abusive tactics, get Dawn the care she needs and make sure they don’t do this to anyone again?—MoveOn.org

Read more about how Dawn and MoveOn.org forced CIGNA to do the right thing at Huffington Post

Stand with Dawn and MoveOn, you can make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else.

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Filed under Democrats, Medicine, Money, MoveOn.org, Politics, Uncategorized

Dad’s Life or Yours? You Choose by Nicholas D. Kristof

Posted by betham37

Op-Ed by Nicholas D. Kristof

Nicholas D. Kristof

Nicholas D. Kristof


New York Times/Nicholas D. Kristof—So what would you do if your mom or dad, or perhaps your sister or brother, needed a kidney donation and you were the one best positioned to donate?

Most of us would worry a little and then step forward. But not so fast. Because of our dysfunctional health insurance system, a disgrace that nearly half of all members of Congress seem determined to cling to, stepping up to save a loved one can ruin your own chance of ever getting health insurance.

That wrenching trade-off is another reminder of the moral bankruptcy of our existing insurance system. It’s one more reason to pass robust reform this year.

Over the last week I’ve been speaking to David Waddington, a 58-year-old wine retailer in Dallas, along with his wife and two sons. I’d love to know what the opponents of health reform think families like this should do.

Mr. Waddington has polycystic kidney disease, or PKD, a genetic disorder that leads to kidney failure. First he lost one kidney, and then the other. A year ago, he was on dialysis and desperately needed a new kidney. Doctors explained that the best match — the one least likely to be rejected — would perhaps come from Travis or Michael, his two sons, then ages 29 and 27.

Travis and Michael each had a 50 percent chance of inheriting PKD. And if pre-donation testing revealed that one of them had the disorder, that brother might never be able to get health insurance. As a result, their doctors had advised not getting tested. After all, new research suggests that lack of insurance increases a working-age person’s risk of dying in any given year by 40 percent.

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New Chicago Law Aims To Protect Abortion Patients, Providers

Posted by Audiegrl

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Chicago Tribune/ Hal Dardick—Anti-abortion activists would have to respect the personal space of people entering medical facilities in Chicago or risk a $500 fine under an ordinance a City Council committee approved Wednesday.

The measure drew criticism from abortion opponents and praise from agencies that provide abortions.

Sponsoring Ald. Vi Daley, 43rd, said workers and patients going to Near North Health Center — a Planned Parenthood facility that provides women’s health services, including abortions — have complained of conditions outside the building.

“Women seeking any kind of medical service are routinely harassed,” Daley said. “They are photographed, and they are followed.”

The ordinance would establish a 50-foot buffer outside the entrances of all health care facilities. Within that zone, no one could come within 8 feet of another person without consent to pass out fliers, display signs, vocally protest, educate or counsel.

Many cities and states have established “bubble zones” around patients approaching clinics since the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a Colorado law in 2000. Chicago’s ordinance would be less restrictive than the Colorado one, where the 8-foot bubble zone encompasses 100 feet from clinic doors.

But Beth Kanter of Planned Parenthood of Illinois said her group’s clinics “have seen a significant surge in the size and viciousness of the protesters” since the May 31 fatal shooting of a doctor who provided late-term abortions in Wichita, Kansas.

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