Cancer - are they building peoples hopes up too high?

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rov1100 | 11:59 Wed 11th Apr 2012 | Science
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Excellent Horizon program on TV last night. Using latest medical technology three sufferers were followed throughout their treatment with amazing results.

Two of the new techniques used state of the art technology and software whereas the third relied on DNA testing and drugs to combat the DRAC faulty gene.

All turned out successfully and raised hopes of future treatment for all.

However will the drugs be affordable on the NHS. Also with the man hours devoted just to one person and the cost of the technology in assisting just one person to live be a sign of future treatment or will this just end up in private hospitals for the rich?


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Worth a look:

I had it on, intended to pay attention, but as usual was doing more than one thing at a time so just caught bits of it. (I really ought not do that, there's little enough on the box worth watching without missing something worthwhile.)

Bits I did see seemed to be covering stuff I was under the impression they were already doing. Radiating the tumour from different angles and such like. Maybe they're further behind than I figured.

Ultimately any new discovery is likely to be of benefit, the question is just one of when it'll work it's way down to the masses. When it's hardware I suspect it'll come in as soon as it is possible to do so, since an initial outlay makes it available to all patients. Drugs are likely to take longer IMO given that the budget needs to be justified, and that the NHS isn't just dealing with a single issue, a single medical problem. But once the patent (or whatever) runs out and the discoverer has made a pile, then it should be easier to get.

There is an issue with any reporting of science, and in particular medical science, in that the earlier some promising research is made known, the longer we all have to wait until it is cleared for use. But we all have to shuffle off this mortal coil with something, and at least we can hope that the next generation will have benefits we could not get, just as we had benefits previous generations did not.
I watched the documentary and thought it excellent and informative. No, I do not think they are overselling what can be achieved.

There is a recognition within the health service that for complex treatment modalities such as cancer diagnosis and treatment, regionalisation of specialities is the best way to maximise expertise and to offer best practice to the widest selection of patients.This process also helps to contain costs.

The issue of affordability is important, and will inform the debate - but you will see Da Vinci robots being introduced into a wider range of hospitals. For example, 2 hospitals relatively close to me are raising funds through charitable efforts to purchase one.
The issue of new and often extremely expensive drugs will continue to be contentious. It is right and proper that such new drugs are evaluated in terms of what actual clinical benefit it offers the patient - what level of life expectancy extension, what quality of life that is, and how much that will cost. We have a method for that - NICE. I do not myself believe that a drug should be sanctioned no matter what the cost if it only offers a very small increase in life expectancy.

With the drug being trialled in the documentary last night, it would seem unlikely to be rejected on a benefit versus cost comparison, assuming it passes all the animal and human trials, since its effect on the infiltration and growth of tumour cells within the lungs and liver, secondary to the initial melanoma, were extremely efficacious.
Roll on the day when the NHS promptly gets the new equipment it needs to provide new services, but the army has to do fundraising to buy a new missile.
We will eventually find a cure for cancer.

I believe it is so difficult since cancer appears to be closely related to the groth process.

Growing or evolving is a significant part of the definition of life.

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