GOV'T WRONG ON CANCER SCREENING
I’m not a doctor.
But I have a prostate.
And my wife has breasts.
And we’d like to keep them. And we’d like to stay alive.
So I’m suspicious of recent pronouncements by government panels. Pronouncements that have turned everything we’ve been told about cancer upside down.
Screening, the government people say, isn’t necessary.
At least not as necessary as most people think.
Mammograms? Not so much.
PSA? Not at all.
Some cancers don’t need to be found, the government experts have said, and some cancers don’t need to be treated.
Testing and treating, the new story goes, are difficult and expensive, and sometimes they’re not worth the effort. There are too many false positives, and too many unnecessary treatments, and too many inconvenienced patients, and we’d be better off if we just stopped looking so hard for cancer.
That’s what they told us last year about breast cancer, that’s what they told us this week about prostate cancer.
Don’t worry, be happy.
Hope and change.
It seems reducing the cost of health care is going to have a body count.
And I say, “Bull crap.”
The government may not value my life and the lives of my loved ones, but I do. And better safe than sorry.
And how to deal with tests which may have a high rate of false positives is for me to decide, not the government.
The stunning underpinning of the new recommendations is that a certain rate of death due to undetected and untreated cancer is acceptable. It becomes a statistics game, a cost-benefit analysis where the benefit is seen through the eyes of accountants instead of through the eyes of people whose lives are saved.
If we simply don’t test, we find fewer cancers. If we find fewer cancers, we treat fewer cancers. Yes, some will die as a result, but we will save a lot of money.
Welcome to government-managed health care. The single-payer option is waiting for you. Now you can live, and die, just like Europeans.
The government which cannot rein in entitlements, which borrows one-third of everything it spends, which anticipates growing debt for decades into the future, that government has found the one place where pennies count.
The place to cut spending is in the diagnosis of deadly disease. Hopefully it won’t kill your mom and dad.
Or you, before your children are raised.
Illegal aliens and Medicaid wastrels clog the emergency rooms with their stuffy noses and drug scams, and Uncle Sam says you can skip your mammogram.
Ditto for the blood test to see if you have prostate cancer.
Some diseases don’t need to be diagnosed, some diseases don’t need to be treated, some people don’t need to be saved.
Unfortunately, you and I are some of those people.
We may well be the marginal few whose lives are sacrificed in the name of efficiency and cost cutting. As American medicine and American government move from a focus on the individual to a focus on the whole, as we abandon individuality for collectivism, some are going to get crushed.
Or the panels are going to get screwed.
Maybe the American people will see through this. Maybe the real doctors will be able to make their voices heard. Maybe the ethic and culture of American medicine will survive this onslaught.
Maybe we will remember that in our society, we value all people and we value all life. And if a thousand false positives save one life, we consider that worthwhile, because we know how precious that life is to that person and her loved ones.
So to hell with the government recommendations. And to hell with the government attempt to invade and oppress this last and most-intimate part of our lives.
The government is not my doctor, and the government does not make my health decisions.
Get your mammograms, get your PSAs. Be aware of the possibility for a false positive and be thoughtful as you decide about further testing and treatment. Consult with your doctor – the professional who looks you in the eye and knows you as a person – and make your decision.
Don’t accept their decision – make your decision.
Because forewarned is forearmed.
And it’s your life, not the government’s.
Get screened, early and often.
- by Bob Lonsberry © 2012