Thursday, October 22, 2009

A Rather Politically Convenient "Rethinking" on Cancer Screening

The Journal of the American Medical Association, the labor-restricting guild that is largely responsible for the high cost of health care published an editorial, the thrust of which, in the words of its lead author Laura Esserman (who by the way donated a cool thousand to Obama's presidential campaign), is that, "The benefit [of cancer screening] is not nearly as much as we hoped and comes at the cost of overdiagnosis and overtreatment..." And the American Cancer Society, although they've since backpedaled a bit, has voiced support for this position.

The mainstream media is all over this "rethinking" on screening. The New York Times headline runs, "Benefits and Risks of Cancer Screening Are Not Always Clear, Experts Say" Sharon Begley in Newsweek: cites the editorial while opining about, "Why there's more reason than ever to be skeptical about cancer screening."

Esserman has been quoted and interviewed extensively in the past couple of days. In her interviews on the News Hour and on San Francisco's KQED she protests profusely that the "rethinking" she is pushing for is not about restriction of care, but is about "tailoring care" and "making care better."  In the KQED interview, in a soppy, "caring" tone, she professes her concern for patients worrying over cancers which they do indeed have, but which aren't necessarily dangerous.

I highly suspect that all this is basically a ham-fisted attempt at consent-engineering purposed toward softening the blow for future government-mandated restrictions on screening. Unless we fight back, we may well be on our way toward centrally-rationed health care. And that's not scare-mongering, but simply a sensible analysis of political trends.

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