Thursday, April 16, 2009

Medicine's progress in

curing cancer is also somewhat disappointing when you consider the billions $$$ we have invested in it. The newspaper trumpet the uplifting victories - such as Lance Armstrong's beating testicular cancer before dominating the Tour de France - but muffle the losses in small obituaries. The most recent one was in Singapore, Richard Stanley, deceased CEO of Development Bank of Singapore.

In the last 25 years, the five-year survival rate for cancer has improved from about 50 percent to a little over 60 percent.

Most of the boost has been for cancers that can be spotted early and cut out by surgeons, such as cancer of the colon and breast. For cancers that hide well or spread quickly, most notably lung cancer, medical care is nearly useless; "breakthroughs" in treatment are usually measured in a few extra months or even extra weeks of survival.

Overall, cancer mortality in the United States/world is unchanged in the last 25 years and higher now that it was in 1950 ( even after taking into account the aging population factor) because a rise in the number of younger people developing cancer has swamped any improvement in treatment. A recently as the mid 1990s, an expert trying to measure the benefits of medical care ignored cancer because he considered the effects of treatment negligible.

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