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Why has America not won the war on cancer? They say it is our fault!

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An eye-opening article on the New York Times’ front page August 3, Lack of Study Volunteers Hobbles Cancer Fight, stated that just 3 percent of adult cancer patients participate in cancer-drug clinical trials. It also revealed that more than one in five trials sponsored by the National Cancer Institute fail to enroll a single subject with cancer.

According to a Dutch study published in The Lancet Neurology, 10 years after treatment with radiation therapy for brain cancers, 53 percent of patients had problems with memory and attention, but only 27 percent of those treated with surgery had these cognitive challenges (all the patients had a low-grade glioma, one of the most common types of brain cancer).
Why don’t U.S. patients enroll in clinical trials for cancer therapies? Because they understand that trials aren’t designed to help them as individual patients. They also don’t understand that the risks may far outweigh the benefits. Recently, there have been extensive reports in major U.S. newspapers, including the Wall Street Journal and New York Times, about the study of long-term side effects in childhood cancer survivors. Those side effects include secondary cancers, heart failure and cognitive dysfunction, as well as an inability to maintain employment. An article in the Wall Street Journal argued that many expensive cancer drugs fail to prolong life beyond a few weeks or months.
Medicare, funded by all U.S. taxpayers, spends a huge sum for cancer drugs with questionable value. If the nation’s goal is to reform the U.S. healthcare system, perhaps it is time to change the current paradigm of early detection masquerading as prevention and “treatment” treating only symptoms. As suggested by former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich in his book Saving Lives, Saving Money, perhaps it is time for American medicine to stop doing the same thing over and over again. The Institute for Functional Medicine has published a white paper on a new model for medical school education and practice which proposes an alternative that might just shift the paradigm.

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