May 30, 2005
Are We Serious About Wanting A Cure For Cancer?
How much progress have we me in curing cancer in the last 30 years? I bet you think a lot, don't you? After all we hear everyday how the survivor rate for cancer keeps going up. We are also hearing all the time of how twice as many people are walking the streets today with cancer then there was 30 years ago. That all sounds good doesn't it?
Now lets see what all of this means.
First, lets look at the survivor rate. How many of you know if you live for 5 years and 1 day with cancer but die the very next day from that cancer you will go down in the history books as a cancer survivor. That's right. You die from cancer but because you lived over 5 years you are considered a cancer survivor. Does that make any since to you because it sure doesn't to me.
We are now fighting a war in Iraq. If that war should last 6 years and a soldier survived for 5 years then gets blew all to pieces the next day would we say he survived the war in Iraq? Of course not.
How in the world did we ever come up with the ideal that if we can keep a cancer patient alive for 5 years we need to call them a cancer survivor? If a heart patient dies 5 years after suffering a heart attack I don't think we say he survived heart trouble, do we? For the same reason I don't think we should call someone that dies from cancer a cancer survivor.
Now lets look at another popular sentence cancer experts like to use which is, Almost twice as many people are walking the streets today with cancer as there was 30 years ago. The reason for that is even more simple. Almost twice as many people have cancer today as there was 30 years .
Let make up some similar statistic for a basketball player. Lets say in the first game he took 10 shots and made 1 of them. That mean he had a 10% chance of making a shot.
The next game he take 30 shots and makes 3 of them. He still stands a 10% chance of succeeding when he takes a shot.
Now if we let our cancer experts get a hold of these figures. They would tell you the player has improved because he made 3 times as many shots the second game as he did the first so his success rate has improved.
But I am sure a poor simple dumb coach could tell you he also missed 3 times as many shots the second game as he did the first so he didn't do any better or any worse. His success rate was the same in both games
Now lets look at some real statistics(according to the 2001 cancer progress report) In 1970 your chances of getting some type of cancer or the incident rate was 395.3 per 100,000 people. Your mortality rate was 161.5 per 100,000 people.
To me that means if you had cancer in 1970 your chances of dying from that Cancer was 40.85%. In 2000 your chances of getting some type of cancer or the incident rate was 471.4 per 100,000 people. Your mortality rate was 202.6 per 100,000 people. To me that means if you had cancer in 2000 your chances of dying from that Cancer was 42.9% in 2000 or 2.05% more.
Now I want to ask you. Do you think we are making progress in curing cancer when 2.05% more cancer patients died from cancer in 2000 then there was in 1970?
If we consider the age factor and the fact that more people live longer and a lot of cancer patients will die from other things like heart trouble then the figures I just gave you might be a lot worse.
Let me give you another statistic that does not make one lick of sense to me. The (2001 cancer progress report) states the cancer incidence rate for 1970 was 395.3 per 100,000 people as I have stated earlier.
Now there is a (2003 cancer progress report) It says the cancer incidence rate in 1970 was 387.6 per 100.000 people.
As dumb as I am I can't see how the number of people that got cancer in 1970 changed from a report they did in 2001 and the one they did in 2003. I would think if they did a report 50 years from now the number of people that got cancer in 1970 will not ever change.
If we did a report on the number of people that were sent to the Vietnam War this year and then did another report 30 years from now is that figure going to change? You know it shouldn't. The Vietnam war is long over with.
For the same reason the incidence rate for cancer in 1970 should never change from a report did in 2001 to a report did in 2003. What happened in 1970 will never change.
I don't ask anyone to believe me. I ask you to look at it yourself.
When I wrote the National institute of health of health the lady said the way I calculated these figures (which is an incidence mortality ratio) was not a cancer statistic in common use to measure cancer progress. I can see why. Because it shows no progress has been made in curing cancer over the last 30 years.
She said the way I calculated it was a crude way to measure progress. I think it is cruel telling people of all the progress when the same percent of cancer patients are dying today as there was thirty years ago.
She also told me progress must sometimes be measured in relative rather then absolute terms. Things like doing mammogram and having better x-ray and scanning equipment.
For that my answer is they did a mammogram on my wife (when her breast cancer reoccurred) about 10 days before she started having a stiff neck and lymph nodes started swelling in her neck. They then spent almost 2 months doing scans and x-rays that showed nothing. Finally they did a biopsy that showed it was cancer. If they had thrown away their progress that the lady wanted me to measure in relative terms and did a biopsy (like I wanted to start with) they could have seen almost 2 month earlier that the cancer was back.
By the way, she died about 5 months after doing the biopsy even though she got daily radiation and weekly chemotherapy.
So you can see I don't have to much faith in measuring progress in relative terms. I will see progress when I see lives are being saved. That I can't see.
If we really want to cure cancer we need to get serious. Did you realize that our government will spend more money this year alone in the war on Iraq then we have spent trying to find a cure for cancer since president Nixon declared a War on Cancer in 1972. Not only do we need to spend more we also need to make sure it is spent wisely. That does not mean giving it to pharmaceutical companies that make millions off of dying cancer patients. I had read one article which said 1/3 of their profit came from cancer patients. I do not know if that is true or not.
The news people claim the drug companies spend more advertising drugs then they do on research.
Regardless we need to face the fact that they would lose money if they came up with a simple cure for cancer or anything else.
Over the last few years we had been hearing that cox-2 inhibitors could help in the fight against cancer. Things like Celebrex and Vioxx. So we were spending money on doing research with cox-2 inhibitors until someone discovered how dangerous they were. Guess what else is a cox-2 inhibitor. It is a simple aspirin. But I guess we couldn't do research with that because no one would be making any money.
My wife had been taking a simple baby aspirin for over 10 years when she got her cancer. Guess what the first thing two different medical oncologist that she went to told her to do. STOP TAKING THE ASPIRIN.
I couldn't understand if it has the potential to help a cancer patient then why take her off of it. She wouldn't have had to enter a clinical trial for that.
Even the radiation oncologist told me he couldn't understand that. Would the aspirin have helped her. I don't really think so. The cox-2 inhibitors were just another way for drug companies to make more money.
Just recently they started saying that some cholesterol drugs could be helpful in fighting cancer. So I guess now we will start wasting all kinds of research money with the cholesterol drugs.
Are we really looking to find a cure for cancer or are we looking for ways for pharmaceuticals companies to make more money?
I personally do not believe chemotherapy will ever cure cancer. I do think it slows its growth but I think we need to start looking in other directions and I don't mean cox-2 inhibitors and cholesterol drugs.
If our politicians are looking for weapons of mass destruction they need to walk into a pathologist lab and look through their microscope at someones cancer. Cancer kills over a half million people every year. I call that mass destruction.
Now that we have found it, and realize it is killing over a half million people ever year what we need to do is start a real fight to eliminate it.
Making people aware of cancer, wearing pink ribbons and playing with things like cox-2 inhibitors and cholesterol drugs isn't going to do it.
It is up to you. If you want a cure for cancer you need to start writing your congressman, senators, president and anyone else you can think of (get all of your neighbors involved if you can) and tell them we are already aware of cancer. What we need is a cure.
Come on America. We can and must do better then we have in the past.