THE WYSONG e-HEALTH LETTER 977
~Thoughts for Thinking People~
MORE CANCER TREATMENT FAILURE
(Dr. W) At the recent meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncologists (ASCO), some 25,000 oncologists met to discuss exciting advances in cancer therapy. Over 10,000 scientific abstracts were presented.
Surely now, after countless billions have been spent on research since President Nixon’s "War on Cancer" was declared in 1971, there must be some dramatic cures. Something must have emerged from this meeting to reverse the growing cancer epidemic and justify the skyrocketing medical costs for cancer treatment.
But not so.
The meeting highlighted that cancer therapy is shifting from conventional cut-burn-poison to a more technologically sophisticated molecularly targeted pharmaceutical approach. It’s a cash cow heyday for drug companies and a wonderful fix for the Rx generation.
A new generation of such drugs includes tyrosine kinase inhibitors such as Gleevec and Iressa. Tarvesa is an ingenious drug that targets the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). Another category is antiangiogenic drugs, such as Avastin that inhibit the growth of blood vessels in tumors.
There have been some qualified ‘successes’ but not without downsides of serious side effect risks. For example, Avastin, causes serious and even fatal bleeding into the lungs (hemoptisis). In one instance 31% of patients experienced this side effect.
But, you might say, so what if there is a good chance of cure? Surprisingly, during this meeting, little discussion could be heard about meaningful results. These expensive new drugs are often used in combination with conventional chemotherapy but there is little evidence of benefit over the chemotherapeutic alone.
In one instance it was found that the new therapies increased survival from 10.8 months to 12.9 months. Progression-free-survival (PFS) was changed in another comparison from 7.2 months to 7.6 months. In another comparison overall survival was changed from 10.2 to 12.5 months and PFS changed from 4.5 to 6.4 months. In yet another comparison the overall survival changed from 5.91 to 6.37 months. About two weeks. One week was added to remission-free survival.
These pathetic results did not dampen the enthusiasm of many doctors and the pharmaceutical purveyors out in force at the meeting with product booth displays rivaling those at the Super Bowl half-time. One company called their drug a “breakthrough...providing new hope for patients with advanced...cancer.” Doctors, looking at only the statistical numbers, concluded that the results were “important” and “exciting” because they were not due to chance. Of course the mainstream media jumps right on with wild claims about how the cure is now just around the corner.
Please. One week!
What’s the cost benefit of this “exciting” new progress? In just two years, spending on cancer drugs will increase from 22 billion dollars to 32 billion. Just adding one of the new drugs, Avastin, to a treatment regimen will increase costs to the patient of $8,000 per month. While these supposed miracle life extensions of a couple months or a week are going on, costs are escalating 500 fold. If you submit to this ‘miracle’ treatment, expect to pay about $250,000.
Recently I was talking to a pharmaceutical representative who was excitedly detailing the benefits of the drugs he represented. He had impressive numbers of how his drug produced results better than competitors' drugs. I asked him how his results compared to no treatment at all. Stunned by the question, he had to admit he had no idea.
That’s the first and most obvious question that should be asked before submitting to any potentially toxic or invasive therapy. Those were not the sorts of answers that came out of the ASCO meeting either.
If you are struck with any disease, before submitting, ask the question and demand the evidence. Modern allopathic medicine is just too risky, dangerous and expensive to just roll over and expose your belly to them.
One also has to make the decision that if fatality is inevitable, whether extending life in a hospital bed, being a pin cushion, living your last moments in misery from drugs and expending your family’s entire savings is worth a couple of months or week of life...if even that is true.
The cure for cancer is to prevent it. Learn how to live life healthily and get at it. If it strikes, don’t panic and fall victim to the ‘something must be done’ mania. ‘Fighting’ cancer is also not surrender to the medical establishment.
Your best hope, as always, is thinking. Learn, think about what there is about your life that caused the disease. Change your life and investigate alternative approaches. There is hope, but as with anything else in life, it resides in what you do to yourself, not what others do to or for you.
Wysong Resource Directory “Cancer”
R. Moss, PhD., Townsend Letter for Doctors, Aug, 05, p. 44
“New Cancer Drugs Are Driving Up Cost of Care,” LA Times, May 14, 2005