Thursday, February 23, 2006

Cancer Prognosis - from today's WSJ (requires subscription). Here are excerpts:

It didn't attract a lot of media fanfare, but two weeks ago the National Center for Health Statistics announced some spectacular news. The number of Americans dying from cancer fell for the first time in decades. This achievement against one of mankind's most dreaded diseases is the medical equivalent of putting a man on the moon.

Especially stunning is that fatalities are falling even though Americans are living longer. Cancer is a degenerative disease, meaning that the likelihood of contracting one of its multiple forms rises exponentially with age. So when statisticians age-adjust the death rate data -- and ask the question: What is the likelihood of an American dying from cancer at any given age? -- they find that cancer deaths have been falling by 1% per year since 1991. If that trend continues, our children will face a 25% lower risk of dying from cancer (at any given age) than we do today.

Other points made: Socialized medicine does not incent aggressive treatment, which saves governments money but at a high human cost. Also, the article cites studies that suggest that only 2% of cancer diagnoses result from enviornmental pollutants, challenging the myth that our industrial society is "pumping poisons into the air and water that put us at ever greater risk of cancer."

Lord willing, all forms of this disease will be eradicated and happy to hear that progress is being made.

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