Monday, September 29, 2014

How idiotic, insensitive, and just plain dumb!

I read this article and the first words pissed me off:

'“Today, we are curing about 80 percent of all breast cancer. That is an incredible advance to 20 years ago when we were curing, at best, about 50 percent,”“Today, we are curing about 80 percent of all breast cancer. That is an incredible advance to 20 years ago when we were curing, at best, about 50 percent,”...'

Why is the word cure being used in conjuction with breast cancer? There is no cure! (Insert expletive here). At first I questioned his percentages and it is true that just over 200,000 cases of breast cancer are diagnosed in the US each year and just about 40,000 women will die from it. 40,000 is 20% of 200,000. I don't think the other 160,000 consider themselves cured, more like they spend their lives in watchful waiting. And a woman diagnosed with breast cancer can die of any number of other causes besides breast cancer before their disease becomes terminal.

'“What we are left with is this 20 percent where clinic-based drugs are not adequate, but we mustn’t burden the 80 percent for whom today’s standard is adequate, giving those patients unnecessary and experimental treatments,” he said.'

Really? Can you tell me which of the women with diagnosed with breast cancer are in the 20% or the 80%? We have some ways of telling but many women get breast cancer who have no know risk factors. Like me. 

Here's more: 

'In years past, treatment of breast cancer was limited to surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Today, drugs are being used to rid the body of cancer cells before surgery becomes an option.

“That method has several effects. One, you can get away with lesser forms of surgery - lumpectomy vs. mastectomy. More interestingly, you can track the effectiveness of the drug by observing what is going on in the breast. Maybe in the future we will be able to track effectiveness by looking at what is happening in the blood,” Ellis said.

Very few people today die from cancer in the breast, he noted.

“The problem becomes the cancerous cells that have left the breast. They are more difficult to track. If you could chase those cells with a simple blood test, that would be real progress,” Ellis said.
The cancer cells, once they leave the breast, often find their way into other tissues and organs. Ellis describes the cancer cells as weeds that are allowed to take root.

“If you have a dose of weed killer and you pour it on a tiny little thistle or weed, it would kill it stone dead, but the same amount of weed killer doesn’t kill a fully grown thistle. It might wilt a little and then return,” he said. “That’s very similar to cancer. Once the cancer cells begin to grow and get embedded, they can be hard to get rid of.”'

I'll just go get some 'human cancer Roundup' and blast away at those weeds before they can take root. You just tell me where they will be and if I am in the 80% or the 20%.

“The problem with mammography is that it is recommended in everybody every year after the age of 40, but only 1 in 8 women get breast cancer, so you are screening a lot of women who are destined never to get breast cancer,” he said. “High-risk patients might need yearly mammograms, but low-risk people might need it every 3-4 years.”

Hmmmm.... I was not at high risk twit face!

'When asked what can be done to reduce a person’s risk of developing cancer, Ellis said the biggest key is pursuing a healthy lifestyle, which means maintaining a good Body Mass Index (BMI).

Cancer made me fat. Starting with steroids in chemo causing bloat.

“A lot of women under-appreciate the role of alcohol in breast cancer risk. That is clearly dose-related,” he said. “Women who take more than a drink or two a week are gradually increasing their breast cancer risk. The more you drink, the higher the risk, so moderate your drinking as much as possible.”

Okay. Fine. Sobriety it is. Take all the fun out of life. As long as I can still have chocolate.

Medical screening is recommended to assess a person’s risk of developing cancer.

“If you have a family history, even if it doesn’t seem very impressive and the risk is small, get yourself over to chat with a genetic counselor. Genetic counseling and genetic risk assessment are still highly underutilized by the population,” he said.

Genetic testing is covered by most insurance, according to Ellis.

I didn't have a family history. None, nada, zip. Actually one of my aunts did some research and found that the only family history of breast cancer was one of my mother's second cousins back in the 1970s. I believe that the BRCA genes are responsible for only 5-10% of all breast cancers... So what about everyone else?

“There is no discrimination these days. That’s what prevented some women from testing because they were afraid they wouldn’t be able to get medical insurance based on their results. ObamaCare ended that,” he said.'

No discrimination? WTF? Get real buddy. Unfortunately there is a fair amount of discrimination these days against people with cancer and many other reasons. Insurance companies haven't necessarily jumped on the bandwagon of paying for genetic testing. And the question of gene ownership and patenting is still up for legal debate in some parts of the world.

Go read the rest of this article here. And the man cited here is the director of the Breast Center at the Baylor College of Medicine. He clearly has not walked the walk and has no bedside manner. He does end by saying more research is needed - especially for him...

This article made me so upset. I felt he was talking down to patients and making statements that just weren't true.


Kathryn said...

Nice of him to recognise that "the battle isn't over," but as someone without family history and low risk in every way including rarely drinking and maintaining a healthy BMI who still managed to be one of those 20% with a "big grown thistle" (aka stage iv cancer) in my early 40's, I think his narrow focus on percentages and odds is missing the mark. Yes, liklihood is a bit useful, but, unfortunately, we aren't anywhere near the point where we know enough to use odds in a meaningful way for diagnosis or treatment.

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