Sunday, August 5, 2007

Advances in Medicine: Worth the Cost

Cancer remains a major killer in the US and abroad. It's good to hear of new developments like electric field therapy. I almost lost a good friend to brain cancer, and I can only imagine how precious a few more months are to someone with a terminal disease.

Early detection is key to fighting cancer effectively. Generally, most cancers that are caught prior to spreading are treatable if not curable. That's why public health officials favor screening programs like mammograms and Pap smears. In public health terms, this is referred to as secondary prevention. Pancreatic cancer is known for being almost always fatal due to how hard it is to detect. This may change that. Remember that this kind of advance requires large amounts of time and effort, as well as money, next time you hear about health care costs.

Far more terrifying (to me at least) than terminal cancer is brain damage. For one such as myself who believes in the afterlife, death is lacks some of its sting. The thought of becoming a lesser being mentally is something out of nightmares. (Literally, in my case) The idea of bringing someone back from the abyss of brain death is still a ways off, but the idea of stimulating the brain back to a functional state is amazing. I wonder if this will cause us to reconsider what a persistent vegetative state actually is.

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