A considerable amount of money is spent on healthcare. As those who read this blog are aware, I am into understanding why a symptom is occurring, finding out what we can do to change our chemistry to help our body heal, and using modern medicine for acute symptoms. Recent research by Dr. Joshua Reed at the Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, as reported by the Associated Press from the American Society of Clinical Oncology conference, showed that annual CT scans performed on people aged 55-79 who smoked a pack of cigarettes a day or the equivalent, could cut their risk of dying from lung cancer up to 20%. Based on this study the U.S. Preventive Task Force has recommended screening that group of people. This group numbers around 10 million and the scans which cost about $200 to $400 per person, costing Medicare about 2 billion a year. Remember under the new law, health screenings are covered with no co-pays.

Lung cancer is the world’s number one killer and is usually found too late for treatment to do much good. Most of these deaths involve middle aged persons and most are due to smoking. With smoking rates still high and a growing body of smokers worldwide, there is a problem, perhaps even an epidemic, which is developing. Where and how much money should be spent and who should make these decisions?

In this study researchers estimated that screenings would lead to:

  • 11.2 million more lung scans including 2 million false alarms
  • 54,900 more lung cancer cases detected
  • 32% of lung cancers found at an early stage versus 15 % now
  • 9.3 billion in new costs, 5.6 billion for the scans, 1.1 billion for the biopsies, and 2.6 billion for cancer treatments
  • The costs of late stage treatment and end of life care would be reduced 

The study was funded by the drug company Genentech which makes cancer drugs. Was this study biased? Should independent research verify this study?

How are countries like China, where smoking rates are increasing tremendously, going to respond to this? Here is a novel idea, why don’t we put money into programs helping people to quit smoking and programs to help our world not to start smoking in the first place? Let’s spend some research money on the cause. Don’t get me wrong, I want to help everyone with cancer. Let’s help them quit smoking. This will help more than just cancer, it will help the entire body. Screening might help one aspect of health, but getting at the cause will help the entire body including the heart. The entire body benefits from less toxins and more oxygen. These are all tough questions facing society, but in all aspects of health, just treating symptoms is not a money saver long term. Where should we spend the bucks?