Monday, 30 July 2007

Navigating the maze of cancer treatment, NY Times feature

Filed under: ,

The New York Times profiled cancer this past weekend in a feature entitled, Cancer Patients, Lost in a Maze of Uneven Care.

Their main article follows Karen Pasqualetto, 35, as she perseveres through a complex maze of physicians and treatments in search of the best care for her stage IV colon cancer, which was diagnosed shortly after the birth of her first child.

The article addresses the uneven quality of cancer care in the U.S. and the difficulty that patients encounter as they attempt to navigate the system in the search for the best care. Healthcare disparities are also addressed, including gaps in access to top cancer care and early detection screenings.

One of the most disturbing parts of the article is a rundown of different cancers and how many patients do not receive the care that gives them the best chance at increasing survival. For example, for pancreatic cancer patients, 38 percent of patients who were eligible for surgery do not receive it. In another example, for breast cancer patients, 15 to 25 percent of women who should have radiation do not and 20 to 30 percent do not take anti-estrogen drugs.

As for Ms. Pasqualetto, she eventually received a liver and colon surgery to remove tumors and has now survived 12 months, far longer than the six month prognosis originally given to her by her first doctor. She credits this good fortune to both her determination and her access to excellent healthcare coverage.

No comments: