Saturday, February 25, 2012

Putting a deadline on cancer

The government, in all its brilliance, has put a deadline on breast cancer. They want to make it go away by 2020. Seriously, they gave breast cancer a deadline to go away. How many smart politicians were involved in this bill (H.R. 3067?? There is even a non profit, Breast Cancer 2020 which is the National Breast Cancer Coalition's strategic arm, behind them urging them on, complete with a website counting down till Jan 1 2020. They state:

"NBCC's mission is to eradicate breast cancer by designing and acting on effective strategies addressed to the administration, Congress, research institutions and health care providers to end this disease. The Coalition informs, trains, and directs patients and others in effective advocacy efforts. Nationwide, the women and men we have trained are shaping breast cancer public policy by participating in legislative, scientific and regulatory decisions; promoting critical analysis of breast cancer information, media coverage and actively working to change all systems that affect our mission to eradicate breast cancer."

A friend, diagnosed with a later stage breast cancer, told me about the bill. I had already heard about the organization but I have thought they were a bit ridiculous. How did they pick this deadline? How do they plan to meet it? A congressional act will help but research breakthroughs don't happen on schedule, they happen when they happen. And if the FDA gets involved and anything has to go through the clinical trial process, according to BC2020's clock, we only have 7 years, 310 days, and 15+ hours to get approval.

The more I think about it, the dumber I think it is:
  • A Congressional act and media coverage will greatly help in eradicating breast cancer - NOT.
  • They want to eradicate what part of breast cancer? The cause, find a cure, or what?  They talk about getting everyone to work together but to what end?
  • And if this is all about ending breast cancer, what about curing those of us who have already had it? Especially all the women who have late stage disease? 
  • What about other types of cancer? I think there are over 1.6 million cancer diagnoses in the US each year of which 220,000 are breast cancer but what about the 1.38 million people facing other cancer diagnoses.

I am not impressed. This strategy is too focused and doesn't account for too many issues. If I could give it a rating, I would give it 5 stars for effort, 3 stars for strategy, and 1 star for brilliance.

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