Sunday, June 28, 2009

Why We're Losing The "War" On Cancer

I've repeatedly made the point here that most of the money raised to fight cancer and find a cure is, to put it bluntly but honestly, pissed away. And the New York Times agrees, as you can read at the linked article. You should read the whole thing, but here are some money quotes:

Yet the fight against cancer is going slower than most had hoped, with only small changes in the death rate in the almost 40 years since it began.

One major impediment, scientists agree, is the grant system itself. It has become a sort of jobs program, a way to keep research laboratories going year after year with the understanding that the focus will be on small projects unlikely to take significant steps toward curing cancer.

And I'll say it again: there is a critical need to redirect some cancer funding toward helping existing cancer patients. In particular, there is a desperate need for counseling, therapy, and support services for patients and their families. Almost no health insurance plans provide for such services, and the attitude of most oncologists is to deliver the bad news to a patient-----"Your cancer has metastasized to your liver"-----and then get the hell out of the exam room ASAP, leaving the patient and his/her family to cope with the crushing news.

Yes, we need to look for a cure. But a cure is a long way off even under the most optimistic scenarios. And meanwhile many cancer patients have real, serious needs that are being ignored.

I'm lucky to have Di, my family, and my friends to get me through my cancer. Many of my fellow cancer patients are not as lucky, and suffer in silence with a host of emotional and logistical problems arising from their cancers.

And that makes me madder than hell. We urgently need a honest, no-bullshit national discussion of how to deal with cancer.