Thursday, November 01, 2007
Political Radar: Rudy's Fuzzy Healthcare Math: "Rudy's Fuzzy Healthcare Math Email Share October 29, 2007 3:36 PM ABC News' Rick Klein Reports: To hear Rudy Giuliani describe it in his new radio ad, the British medical system is a scary place. 'My chance of surviving prostate cancer -- and thank God I was cured of it -- in the United States: 82 percent,' Giuliani says in a new radio spot airing in New Hampshire. 'My chances of surviving prostate cancer in England: Only 44 percent, under socialized medicine.' But the data Giuliani cites comes from a single study published eight years ago by a not-for-profit group, and is contradicted by official data from the British government."
I have not looked at these data myself but I would really like to see some responsible person do so. For the sake of any one interested, there are many confusing things about such stats. For example, the US has anj extensive early detection program. Great Hunh? Yes, but BECAUSE we diagnose more early cancer, even if there were no improvement in therapy because of ealry diagnosis, our 5 years stats would improve.
Cancer Research UK : UK Prostate Cancer incidence statistics: "Although there has been a huge rise in prostate cancer incidence over the last 20 years, the increase in mortality has been much less. Much of the increase in incidence is due to the increased detection of prostate cancer through the use of prostate specific antigen (PSA) testing and surgery for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)."
Poll finds GOP in worse shape than ever - David Paul Kuhn - Politico.com: "One year before voters go to the polls to select the next president, the Republican Party is as weak as it has been in a generation, a detailed new poll from the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press suggests. Only 36 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say the GOP “does an excellent or good job” of “standing up for traditional GOP positions” on issues like reducing the size of government, cutting taxes and promoting conservative social issues. That’s a decline of 25 points since July 2004. In fact, it’s the lowest Republican rating for the GOP since Pew began tracking the issue in 2000. And while the Democratic Party had only a slight lead in July 2004 as the party “better able to manage the federal government” and as the party that is “more honest and ethical,” today Democrats lead both categories by double-digit margins. By even larger margins, Democrats are seen as the party “more concerned about people like me” (by 29 points) and the party best able to bring about “needed change” (by 22 points)."
Britain complains about Giuliani health care ad | Politics | Reuters: "Britain's Health Secretary Alan Johnson said Giuliani's figures were wrong and the survival rate under Britain's National Health Service was in fact much higher. 'The British NHS should not become a political football in American presidential politics,' Johnson told The Times newspaper."
Guiliani is only one symptom of a Republican party that seems to think sciecne is one more matter for Rovian spin. Of course Dems can do this too, but trhe danger here is that the Reepubicans may be turning the US against science itself.
How does Guilinai get away with this? Prostate cancer is almost universal in men. That is, some believe that with careful enough analysis 100% of men my age (66) will show some evidence of this problem. So, if we try very,very hard we find people who, even if left alone, will have a good chance of surviving for many years. This results in a treatment conundrum. If a patient is 95, in so so health and is diagnosed with a minimal prostate lesion, which is more dangerous .. surgery or just leaving the thing alone?
Of course such misuse of stats is not limited to the right. Here is one of my favorite exercises. Environmentalists estimate the environmental effects of cancer by comparing countries. The lowest rates in each country are assumed to equal the intrinsic propensity to get cancer minus all environmental influences.
SO .. the theory goes .. if we take the difference in rates from the highest to the lowest across the world, for each country we will see the effects of each environment. If we add these differences and subtract them for 100% .. then there would be NO cancer! Of course this too is nonsense.
There is a real need for a national scientific court of some kind that can take such BS claims and open them to public shame. Of course this might frighten interest groups of the right and the left so it may never happen.