What John McCains story may tell us about Medicine

Just before he passed away Sen McCain announced he would seek no further treatment. We can only imagine what he may have endured over the last year.

But even given the information shown below, there is always hope, there is always that five percent chance, always the possibility of that treatment breakthrough during the time left.

Who wouldn’t seek to do everything possible until that everything becomes an unrealistic burden? Less than 5% of the victims of this disease survive five years.

Is this the way medicine is supposed to work? Is it ethical trying over and over treatments that are known to be largely ineffective? Is there a better way to advance research and make progress?

And beyond the very personal issues, there is always the cost. When, if ever, do we say we can’t afford to keep doing this? And who is the “we?” Is it the patient, the family, the insurer, the employer or a government agency?

Few of us want to relate dollars to receiving health care. That’s true of a $20 dollar Co-pay or a $250,000 hospital stay. Cost is always a secondary factor … until treatment has been received.

Contrary to some rhetoric health care will never be free. So, how much of our collective resources is enough to satisfy our demands for health care? And should that demand be limited in any way?

“The standard course of care for glioblastoma includes surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, as well as alternating electric field therapy, which is when a patient dons a cap that administers electric currents that interfere with tumor growth. There are other options beyond standard care, but these therapies are still in the clinical trial stage. Immunotherapy, which has shown promise against other kinds of tumors, is a kind of treatment that uses a patient’s own immune system to target cancers. Biologic therapies involve using a virus to infect a tumor and kill its cells, and precision medicine involves genetic sequencing of the tumor to see if any existing drugs could be a match to target the cancer. But despite the growing number of potential treatments, scientists so far have made very little progress on curing the disease or significantly extending survival time.” Source: The HUFFPOST 8-25-18

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