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Women who are not there tonight

"The insurance companies took over health care..."

Even those not currently in the Democratic wing of the Democratic party might be inclined to agree with firebrand Dennis Kucinich on that point. But just how right this point is---that under the GOP, healthcare is now based more on actuarial tables and risk assessment than medical care---is borne out by another story in the news this week.

Ovarian cancer has a very poor five-year survival rate if detected in stage 3 or 4, but much better if detected in stage 1. So you would think that medicine would be rushing towards more effective early detection, right?

Not so. A test that has been demonstrated to be over 95% effective at detecting ovarian cancer (with a false positive rate of less than 1%) has not yet won the endorsement of Bush's FDA or the key gynecological cancer group.

The New York Times had the story yesterday:

The need for such a test is immense. When ovarian cancer is detected at its earliest stage, when it is still confined to the ovaries, more than 90 percent of women will live at least five years, according to the American Cancer Society. But only about 20 percent of cases are detected that early. If the cancer is detected in its latest stages, after it has spread, only about 30 percent of women survive five years.

But far from greeting the new test with elation, many experts are saying it might do more harm than good, leading women to unnecessary surgeries. The Society of Gynecologic Oncologists almost immediately issued a statement saying it did not believe the test had been validated enough for routine use.

Beth Karlan, top gyne/onc at Cedars, who pooh-poohed the need for women to push for more widespread ovarian cancer screening via an older and less accurate test (the notorious CA 125, which is only 60% accurate) earlier in the year, makes a similar case again against Ovasure.

But Dr. Beth Y. Karlan, director of the Women’s Cancer Research Institute at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, said the samples tested were not representative of what might be encountered in routine screening. There were very few blood samples from women with early stages of the most deadly type of ovarian cancer. “That’s really what we want to find,” she said.

I'm not sure what Dr. Karlan means by "most" deadly type, as those who die with "less" deadly strains of ovarian cancer find little comfort in the fact that their stripe is "less" deadly.

PS: Obama's mother died of ovarian cancer at age 53; I'm not sure if she died of a "most" deadly or "less" deadly type.