Rudy's Right Regarding Cancer Care

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  • 10/31/2007
There is a lot of consternation about the fact that Rudy's ad comparing prostate cancer care in the UK and the US had some musty numbers on survival rates. They were wrong numbers that five minutes on the Web could have solved. Hence the error detracts from but doesnt' change the fact that you are more likely to die and less likely to survive five years after being diagnosed in the UK than any other Western country. To suggest, as some have, that five year survival rates, are not predictive or not a marker of quality of care, is absurd. The fact is, as a recent article in the Lancet points out survival rates reflect increased screening but only to the extent that it leads to treatment. Screening without treatment would not translate into fewer cancer deaths, which it has at a faster rate in the US than anywhere else. Indeed, controlling for screening, the key variable for increased survival and declining death rates is access to new medicines.

Which is the point of Rudy's ad. And the point of this recent article in UK's Daily Telegraph:

I won't let Daddy die: Girl of six raises £4,000 for life-saving drugs the NHS won't provide
" Faced with the prospect of losing her father to cancer, Chantelle Hill reacted a little differently to the average six-year-old.

Instead of letting the grown-ups deal with it, she decided to save him herself.

Now, she has raised more than £4,000 to buy the life-saving drugs David Hill needs after he was told they were not available to him on the Health Service. "

Apparently NICE and the NHS decided that Tarceva, the drug Chantelle will pay for, but NHS won't, was not "an effective use of NHS resources".

I know there will be some who read this post and bleat about how some people can't afford drugs because they don't have insurance. Good point. But what's the point of insurance of any kind if your six year daughter has to ask your neighbors for money to pay for a drug that extends your life and improves it's quality? Could it be that our health system, which needs work, is better and more compassionate in this regard?

Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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