Worth a Read

Last week two articles related to cancer care caught my eye. Both were well written, and both spoke to problems in the delivery of cancer care in this country. The first, by Len Zwelling, speaks to the decline of dynamic and creative research at MD Anderson (but a problem typical of other institutions). (I found it so interesting that I'll forgive him for spelling my name wrong.)

The second was an Op-Ed by journalist Laurie Becklund called "As I Lay Dying," which appeared in the LA Times February 20th. Becklund, who was dying of stage IV breast cancer when she wrote it, takes on, among other things, the system of cancer care. She's right on a number of counts, but I was particularly struck by a paragraph about the FDA:

The medical establishment tells me I have “failed” a number of therapies. That's not right: The establishment and its therapies have failed me. The system we live in as metastatic breast cancer patients is simply not designed to deal with the cycle we are living and dying in. The estimated 40,000 women (and a few men) who die annually can't wait years for FDA-approved, “gold standard” clinical trials. We're dying now.

I wish more patients realized this and put pressure on the FDA to make drugs available for patients more quickly. Many, like Becklund, who died February 8th, don't have time to waste.