This is an example of a more general topic that I might post on our HelpWithCancer.org site. But I felt this article, on NBC News.com, was something my readers here should see. Here’s an excerpt. What you think?
US cancer care in crisis, experts say
Maggie Fox NBC News
And as the baby boomer generation ages, the U.S. is going to be hit with a tsunami of new cancer cases. It’s time to get organized, the Institute of Medicine committee says.
“As a nation we need to chart a new course for cancer care,” says Dr. Patricia Ganz, chair of the committee that wrote the report and a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Medicine and School of Public Health. “We need to make the healthcare system better.”
The Internet brings a unique opportunity to change this, with ways to make sure doctors follow the best protocols for treating patients, and making sure patients understand what they need and what is possible, the committee says.
Cancer is the No. 2 cause of death in the United States after heart disease, killing more than 500,000 Americans every year.
Because cancer becomes more likely as people get older, the numbers will go up exponentially. By 2030, the report projects, cancer rates will go up 45 percent, to 2.6 million cases a year.
Cancer is common, so a range of doctors and other specialists treat it. Often the care is very good, but too often it isn’t.
“One would expect an entire system to snap into place that would ensure that this patient receives all the treatments he or she needs,” Dr. Neil Wenger of UCLA, one of the committee members, says in a video released with the report.
“That is not the way that this system works. We have the most highly trained oncologists but because we don’t have coordination among all clinicians, this care doesn’t serve patients well. Sometimes it even harms patients.”
So someone with colon cancer who goes to his community hospital maybe treated by a surgeon who doesn’t know to take out certain lymph glands for testing to see if the cancer has spread, says Ganz. “They may do too many tests,” she told NBC News.
Often doctors order too many CT scans or unnecessary MRIs, Ganz said. “These kinds of variations lead to potential risk or harm to the patient,” she said. “Obviously if you don’t have good access, you won’t get good care.” Plus it can be costly — and patients often must pay a large chunk of this pricey and unnecessary care…
Ms Fox continues, touching on an issue that hits close to home for many myeloma patients:
“The truth is, not everybody can travel,” says Dr. Clifford Hudis, president of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, who was not on the panel. “We have a golden opportunity now that we are in the age of bioinformatics.” Electronic communications can help doctors connect to one another and share expertise, and it needs to happen more often, Hudis and the panel agree.
“Why shouldn’t any doctor who is using a computer and electronic records ultimately be able to gain from the experience of everyone? Then it won’t matter quite so much if you wander into a one-person office in a rural center,” Hudis says…
Many myeloma patients don’t have the money or time to travel to Arkansas (UAMS), Boston (Dana-Farber) or Minnesota (Mayo Clinic); or they may not be healthy enough to travel. As things stand now, there are stats that support the premise that, on average, these patients will not live as long as those treated by our best and brightest from the best myeloma treatment centers.
And speaking of cost, if you think new therapies like the one I wrote about yesterday, daratumumab, will be affordable, better think again. Patients I know on newly FDA approved Kyprolis and pomalidomide, have told me they were shocked at the cost. But so far, Medicare and/or their private insurance has been picking-up the tab.
At some point, I’m concerned that insurance companies may balk at authorizing four and five drug combinations, administered for years on end.
I recommend you read Maggie Fox’s article in it’s entirety:
As if we all don’t have enough to worry about! The good news? There is a lot of room for improvement, and modern technology is evolving quickly to help make that happen.
Feel good and keep smiling! Pat