I am almost a cancer survivor. I say almost because when I completed my radiation and chemotherapy treatments it was explained to me by every member of my oncology team that I was not “a survivor” until I make 5 years. I was told for the next 5 years they would be my go to doctors for everything. I was told that if I make a full two years that my chances for developing a cancer from the treatments will decrease each year.
Right now I am about 7 months away from the 2 year mark.
Yesterday I went for one of my appointments, this one with my radiation oncologist, and even though I have been going here for my throat cancer over a year now, I had to sign new HIPPA related paperwork, (which I’m sure will be interesting on it’s own when I have time research), as well as recieved updated information and was told by my doctor about the “new” way they are tracking cancer survival, all part of a “system wide” change.
Cancer survival statistics have always been based upon 5 year studies. Personally I had found this irrtitating enough in the past, because when researching cancer statistics via government access sites like the CDC for example, they would only go back 5 years. Therefore I found that while trying to research cancer rates and possible relation/effects since the introduction of GM foods (which occurred in the early 1990’s) it is impossible to say in 1990 before GM foods cancer rates in the United States were this, and after 10 years in 2000 cancer rates in The United States are that. The statistics only go back five years.
Within the population at the “‘real” people level, the families, we are all aware that cancer incidence has been on the rise, Contrary to what main stream media reports. Much of this has recently been exposed as manipulation of statistics and late reporting of the cancer, and is discussed in great length in this article at length here. According to the CPC ( Cancer Prevention Coalition “Statistics Over recent decades, the incidence of cancer has escalated to epidemic proportions (1), now striking nearly one in two men (44%) and more than one in three women (39%). This increase translates into approximately 56% more cancer in men and 22% more cancer in women over the course of a single generation (2). As admitted by recent NCI and ACS estimates, the number of cancer cases will increase still further because of the growth and aging of the population, dramatically doubling by 2050 (3).
This is why I found it very troubling when my doctor explained to me (and quite frankly had a hard time looking me in the eye for much of the conversation, even though he has been and remains my favorite doctor), that yes in the world of cancer survival statistics everything was changing over to two year survival rates. He actually TURNED his back to me, acting busy putting away the scope he had just used to check on a suspicious polyp that had showed up on my last scan (that had not been noticed over a month ago)., and said that “if I was going to develop any further cancers related for example to my radiation treatments, it would “most likely” appear within the first year”.
This was absolutely contrary to everything I had been told and learned as a researcher and as a cancer patient.I was warned as I said at the start of treatments, during treatments, and especially when I finished treatments, that I was not out of the woods for 5 years, with the first two years the most dangerous.
Making two years post treatment cases a misleading new plus mark in the “survivor” side of cancer statistic equations and computations is going to have a profound result when we hear “latest” cancer survival rates for the United States. Talk about manipulating statistics!
Do you have any idea what a mind boggling skew this is going to throw on the cancer survival curve? It is going to appear that lung cancers and many others are actually succeeding at phenomenal almost 100% rates if it is based on 2 years.
I can tell you from personal experience you have not even recovered from the treatments by this point if you have undergone high dose radiation treatments combined with chemotherapy using the most powerful agent of all, platinum based cisplatin. You may have noticed that they tend to focus upon “survival”, but generally avoid in depth research or discussion regarding actual quality of life after treatment.
What genius on their part, just before radiation from Japan arrives!
At last scan the new polyp found in my left nasal cavity, that remained unfound and unreported for one month, gets to wait another month. Why “follow” this polyp? (Next appointment in another month). Why are we not simply doing a biopsy? Well that would be an insurance company discussion, left for another time.
I do know though that at this point if the polyp remains undiagnosed for at least six more months I become a survivor statistic.
So what does this mean to you, the reader? Maybe nothing today, or tomorrow. But in the near future as the concerns over the ongoing nuclear crisis in Japan continue unresolved, and radiation continues to sweep in across the plains, and radiation sickness and cancer fears start to rise….
Would it not ease a lot of the panicking if they could come out with a report claiming almost 100% 2 year survival rates for example lung cancer? Yes, I think It would go a long way towards easing fears of developing cancer if they were to come out with a headline claiming cancer treatments had advanced so far that new studies are proving Two Year Cancer Survival Rates close to 100% .
Want to know the really scary fact of cancer? Many, not all of us, spend the 5 year span post treatment dealing with severe complications and lifestyle restrictions as a result of surviving the treatments. For example I do not have working salivary glands, and while you may think well that’s just a dry mouth, it is so much more. Besides dental problems, without salivary glands you cannot lubricate your mouth or throat. My taste buds and sense of smell are almost non existent. I was told that these issues had a two year window for improvement post treatment, so I guess I still have a few months for a miracle in the spit department. The radiation treatments, depending on location, can cause severe and extensive tissue damage and necrosis as well. I do not have much muscle left in the neck region, and my thyroid gland is currently sputtering and dying, I wish it would hurry up, I can take medicine to maintain TSH levels, but bouncing up and down the thyroid has drastic effects on your health.
Am I glad to be alive? Yes of course, heck I always say look on the bright side. At least I never drool on the pillow when I’m sleeping anymore, right?
Do I think some people survive cancers for many years? Yes, I know they do.
So what is my problem?
Dishonesty. Manipulation of statistics as a modern propaganda tool.
Well, sighning off for now, I am usually about 2-3 days ahead of CNN, but on this one it may be a few weeks because so far I have found no chatter in searches regarding change, but that is not uncommon when it comes to matters involving the FDA or CDC. Usually studies are just “released” to the networks when completed.