The uproar over mammogram guidelines is discouraging for anyone who thinks the cost over over-medicating and defensive medicine cannot continue.
In the midst of the debate over health care reform, we have been handed the perfect example of why America will never get health care costs under control: The furious reaction to new guidelines that recommend most women should get mammograms later in life and less frequently. [More]
As long as we cling to the idea that one life is worth all the wealth in the world and millions in the future should suffer for my well-being in the present we will be unable to adopt common sense measures like this recommendation. It's also why too many of us men will have unnecessary prostate surgery.
Doctors have routinely recommended prostate cancer screening for men over 50 using a blood test for prostate specific antigen, or PSA. The belief was that early diagnosis and aggressive treatment for any cancer is better than standing by and doing nothing.
But many prostate tumours are slow-growing and take years to cause harm. Some studies suggest many men are living with the side-effects of aggressive treatment with surgery and radiation for a cancer that may never have killed them.
The researchers said in the United States, fewer than 2 per cent of men with under age 65 opt to forgo prostate surgery in favour of regular testing for their cancers. And 73 per cent of those ultimately have surgery within four years.But a separate study in the journal Cancer by researchers at the Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, found that men with early stage prostate cancer who put off the surgery in favour of regular checkups were not overcome by anxiety. [More]
Oddly enough this individual failure is precisely why we will eventually devolve to a system where the government makes such allocations. Just as other developed nations have discovered.
One more time: we can't afford all the health care everyone wants. If we can't devise a system to ration health care effectively, that's all our economy will be about. And yes, that is the correct verb.
And we will still have a mortality rate close to 100%.