Monday, March 23, 2009

For You To Think About:Prostate Cancer Screening and Treatment

I would like more Americans to think about medical topics and about the American medical establishment and health care industry. It is often difficult to get people to think about things in an abstract way. Today I read a newspaper report about one specific issue that I'd like you to know about and to think about not just for this one specific topic but hopefully after seeing the issues regarding Prostate Cancer screening and treatment of Prostate Cancer, you would apply the same questions and thought process to other diseases and to wellness.

All too often Americans who do not work in the health care field only talk or think about medical issues in relation to complaining about the cost of health care, something such as thinking their health insurance premiums are too high, or that a cost of a medical procedure is high compared to other expenses in their life. If you are one of those people who mainly thinks only about the COST of health care, I ask you to read this post and do some thinking about something else.

Believe me, learnig more about specific medical conditions, tests and treatments may help you down the path of being infomed which may help you give informed consent before you agree to medical testing or medical procedures.

Sadly the over-focus of money spent on health care by consumers and the media has led to an over-focus on the cost of medical care. Being too unbalanced in our focus can cause problems for the big picture. The only issue with health care in America is not the cost of it, we should be thinking about the medical care itself, in part because what is tested and what procedures are done affect cost (can drive it up) and it also affects our health and well being, which is the whole point of using the medical care establishment, is it not?

At present the federal government, with urging from President Obama, think that if only the federal government introduces universal health care, then all of our medical problems will be solved. The finance part of the health care industry is just one issue but the real issue with health care is our own health and wellness. Ideally we would all be healthy and well and would have access to good and right medical care and would not waste or money or energy on having unnecessary tests, and any procedures would only help us not harm us. We must have informed consent when accessing medical care, and the only way that is achieved is with a certain amount of self-education on these topics. I recommend that every person inform themselves about wellness and health topics which will help them make better lifestyle choices and will help them access the best and most appropriate health care services should they require it.

Questions for you to ponder before reading this entire post:

1. Do you feel that Cancer treatment should always be undertaken if a Cancer is found?

2. Do you think the American public feels the same way as you do?

3. Why do you think the majority of people would hold a certain belief such as all Cancers must be treated?

4. Are all Cancers equal, meaning, all Cancers are bad for all Cancer patients, and if a Cancer is found it must be or should be treated?

5. Do you think that there are Cancers that it would not matter if they were ever treated? Or do you think “all Cancers should be treated aggressively”? Why do you hold the opinion that you hold? What influences or sources of information inform your opinion on that topic?

6. Do you feel that in all cases Cancer treatment can only help a person’s health? I mean, do you think a Cancer treatment in and of itself may hurt a patient yet not have an effect on the Cancer or prolonging life or improving quality of life?

7. When screening tests exist to check for Cancer such as are tested at an annual physical, do such tests always have merit? Should we not bother with some prescreening tests?

8. Do you think that current medical recommendations to treat a Cancer found during a screening procedure are always the best thing to do? Just because a screening test exists, should it always be used?

9. Do you think any screening tests in and of themselves might hurt a patient’s health and should be avoided?

10. Do you note the difference between what studies show and how difficult it is for the medical establishment to make change in policy or in their former recommendations? How much new information needs to be found in order for the old policy to be revised? As technology improves also, sometimes old recommendations don’t change, have you noticed that? (I refer to the use of radiation x-rays for mammogram routine screenings when perhaps safer ultrasound or MRI could be used instead now that we have those technologies.)

An article I read today touches upon the questions I asked in numbers 1-8.

There are too many paragraphs for me to quote all that I feel are important. This is a short article in which nearly every paragraph is important.

I recommend you read this once or twice, and think about it, then save it for another day and re-read it. If this doesn’t get you thinking about current medical practices and recommendations, I don’t know what will.

Article Title: Two Big Studies Tackle Debate on Prostate Test
By: Keith J. Winstein
Published in: The Wall Street Journal
Date: 3/19/09

Note this article covers America and Europe and the two establishments are not in sync with their recommendations—America is advocating more prescreening with the PSA test than Europe. Why that is a fact is something else entirely that I’ll leave you to ponder. Two hints: who profits from the pre-screening test and the treatment and could pushing for screening test and treatments be for profit-making purposes and could the legal climate (malpractice lawsuits) have something to do with it?

Lately the medical establishment has been bashed as the cause for rising health care costs, when recommending too much testing and doing too many unnecessary tests or procedures. The medical establishment might blame ignorant patients for causing some of their own medical problems (poor lifestyle choices) or for not seeking preventative care or not doing early medical screening tests.

My opinions on the American health care system are based largely in part from the eleven years I worked in the medical field, on the doctor side then later on the insurance side (an HMO that also dealt with Medicare and Medicaid). I hold many opinions about wellness and medical care and self care based on my own reading of numerous books and to a much lesser degree, in-depth TV show reports, newspaper and magazine stories.

The medical field in America is a huge blame game. Every involved party feels the other is the source of the problem: patients, employers, health care insurance companies, doctors and all other health care professionals and organizations (hospitals etc.), lawyers, and state and federal government and government agencies and federal and state programs. It is such a mess that there is no simple or easy fix including national healthcare. The issues in the health care system are complex and problems are interrelated and sometimes causes by several factors, all intersecting and influencing each other, some of which involve laws and lawsuits.

What I do know is that one thing we can control is our own knowledge and to what degree we are informed. As humans we cannot control completely our own medical and physical state but we can try to make better choices regarding lifestyle and nutrition and know something about the preventative medical care and treatments that are recommended to us when/if we do get sick with an illness.

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1 comment:

Crimson Wife said...

My grandfather got prostate cancer at age 78 and was advised by his doctor not to treat it because it was allegedly something my grandpa would "die with. not from". Well, it turned out to be an aggressive tumor and led to two years of very painful suffering before he finally succumbed to it. His siblings all lived into their late 80's and early 90's so my poor grandpa might've easily lived another 10 to 15 years had the cancer been treated when it was discovered. That would've allowed him to see the birth of several of his great-grandkids. How can you put a pricetag on something like that?