Saturday, April 25, 2009

Cancer, glad I left that hornets nest

The New York Times had a good article that points out just how poor we are at treating cancer:

Yet the death rate for cancer, adjusted for the size and age of the population, dropped only 5 percent from 1950 to 2005. In contrast, the death rate for heart disease dropped 64 percent in that time, and for flu and pneumonia, it fell 58 percent.

Want to take bets on what percentage of that drop goes to anti-smoking campaigns? I doubt even much of that 5% drop went to modern medicine. Barring a few types of leukemia, skin cancer, and a couple other types I am not entirely sure I would bother getting treated for cancer. The cost is so high, and the effects so small.

Really it seems to me that our healthcare system as a whole needs to just waste less time treating cancer. Our treatments don't work, and if we put that effort into treating diseases we actually understand we could probably save a lot more lives. I am not of the school of thought that says a cure will never happen, but it certainly hasn't come yet.

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