Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Should We Stop Trying To Cure Cancer?

Human Health

Dr. Richard Smith:
“So death from cancer is the best, the closest to the death that Buñuel wanted and had. You can say goodbye, reflect on your life, leave last messages, perhaps visit special places for a last time, listen to favourite pieces of music, read loved poems, and prepare, according to your beliefs, to meet your maker or enjoy eternal oblivion.”
Photo Credit & Source: BMJ


In a blog post (“Richard Smith: Dying of cancer is the best death”; December 31, 2014) in the British Medical Journal,  Dr. Richard Smith writes that not only is dying of cancer “the best death,” but that we should stop wasting money trying to find a cure; Smith, the former editor of BMJ (whose catchphrase is Helping doctors make better decisions), writes:
This is, I recognise, a romantic view of dying, but it is achievable with love, morphine, and whisky. But stay away from overambitious oncologists, and let’s stop wasting billions trying to cure cancer, potentially leaving us to die a much more horrible death.
Dr. Smith, I say to you that you cannot be more wrong, and I address this post to you. Thankfully, there are millions of rational, intelligent and sagacious individuals who disagree with this romantic claptrap, including medical researchers, oncologists and the cancer centres that diligently work to make the lives of patients better. Thankfully, the many medical-research centres worldwide continue their research, ignoring your advice. Medical research, after all, is at the heart of western science and medicine, and in the progress of humanity. “Love, morphine and whiskey,” as you suggest, is no modern method of treatment.

Thankfully, the many excellent cancer centres worldwide, including the one here in Toronto whose care I was under, continue to help individuals diagnosed with cancer, thus improving their lives and alleviating many of the possibility of a horrible death. Bravo to over-ambitious oncologists, ones with passion and compassion and dedication to patient care.

Your views are in direct opposition to what oncologists believe and do, in particular; and to what doctors ought to do in general.

Given your romanticism and nihlism and your predilection for broad sweeping statements, I would recommend that you immediately step down as a medical doctor and turn your “romantic” interests to poetry or music or painting or some other pursuit that does not involve human interactions of the medical kind. Or for that matter of the human kind. Take my advice in the manner it was directed.

Given your state of mind, I would never, under any circumstances, seek you out as a physician, and I pity anyone who falls into your cold hands. But, perhaps, you were just joking, that this is a poor and clumsy attempt at satire, and that your sentiments emanated from the influence of morphine and whiskey. Well, that explains much.

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To read the full post, go to [BMJ]

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