Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Too many of us aging

We are getting older so will there be enough doctors to care for us?  Especially for cancer care?

And will we understand our options?

Us baby boomers need to stop aging to doctors can catch up with us. We are reaching the, and I quote, 'tumor prone years' as a generation. (I hope I have already had my share of tumors, thank you.)

In addition, oncology is a quickly evolving medicine these days - personalized medicine being on the forefront - as scientists are racing to find a cure for cancer. The doctors have lots to keep up on.

Patients do too. They need to stay informed on their options and understand what treatments are curative (good word) vs. which are palliative (bad word). We need new ways to help patients understand their options.

Finally treatments are getting more complex and not necessarily very helpful. "Of 13 cancer treatments approved by the FDA last year, only one was proven to extend survival by more than a median of six months, the report said. The drugs all cost more than $5,900 for each month of treatment."

Ouch! (That's over $70,000 per year... but wait no one is living long enough to take it for a year.)

Finally, here is a list of recommended questions for patients facing a cancer diagnosis:
  • How long does the average person with this cancer live?
  • What is my likelihood of a cure?
  • If I cannot be cured, will I live longer with treatment? How much longer?
  • Will this care directly treat the cancer?
  • What are the side effects?
  • Am I eligible for trials?
If your health team does not have answers, “you need to find another set of providers,” Ganz said.

So if we all could just stop aging, and let the medical world catch up, we might be better off. I am still 37 so I am doing my part.

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