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Doctors subject early-cancer patients to excessive radiation because it makes them more money


Radiation treatment
(NaturalNews) In recent years, a new approach to treating breast cancer with radiation therapy has been developed. The introduction of hypofractionated whole breast irradiation (as opposed to conventional whole breast irradiation) has reduced the length of treatment by about half -- from between five and seven weeks to only three or four.

The treatment is just as effective, costs less and is vastly preferred by women undergoing radiation treatment after lumpectomies. The reduced duration of treatment means less time away from families and workplaces, so it's no surprise that the women being treated are in favor of it.

Hypofractionated whole breast irradiation has been proven in many clinical trials to be as effective as the conventional approach, and in most countries it is now being prescribed for nearly three out of four breast cancer patients.

However, in the United States, only one in three breast cancer patients are currently receiving it.

So why, if the treatment has the same effect and costs less, while also being more comfortable and convenient for patients, is it not being more widely prescribed in the U.S.?

Although some claim that the use of the old method is merely "ingrained" in physicians who are skeptical about new therapies, this can hardly be used as an excuse -- especially when there have been multiple randomized trials proving its effectiveness.

And in light of the fact that the rest of the world has adopted hypofractionated whole breast irradiation as the standard treatment, it's difficult to believe that American doctors are simply uninformed or "behind the times."

So that leaves only one possible explanation: money.

It may be cynical to assume so, but judging from the way the entire medical industry operates, it's not a huge leap of the imagination.

We live in a world where drug developers charge $1,000 per pill -- not because it cost Big Pharma that much to develop and manufacture a drug (in this case, I'm referring to the new Hep C treatment introduced by Gilead Sciences) -- but because it is effective and has been deemed a "value" compared to the cost of long-term treatment of the disease.

In other words, simply because the new Hep C treatment works and cures the disease in a matter of weeks, Gilead feels justified in potentially raking in hundreds of millions of dollars in profits, whether or not the price of the pills actually reflects the cost of developing them.

In my opinion, that example alone gives plenty of reason for cynicism. And that's just one example...

It seems glaringly apparent that, as a rule, the health industry routinely puts profits ahead of actually caring for people. And it may be somehow justified, from a capitalist point of view, for drug manufacturers to think in these terms, but for doctors to play along is a violation of the Hippocratic Oath:

"With regard to healing the sick, I will devise and order for them the best diet, according to my judgment and means; and I will take care that they suffer no hurt or damage."

Any caring soul, physician or otherwise, who has witnessed the side effects of radiation therapy would certainly embrace a safe and effective alternative that cuts the duration of the treatment in half.

And I speak from personal experience, having watched my own mother undergo radiation treatment for breast cancer.

So, if I am being cynical regarding this issue, perhaps I have my own personal reasons.

But even for those who haven't been through the ordeal (whether as a patient or a family member), I think that the logic behind my argument would still appear to be sound.

Or am I missing something?

Sources for this article include:

http://www.uphs.upenn.edu

http://jama.jamanetwork.com

http://www.nytimes.com
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