Tuesday, February 4, 2014

New Plan Regarding Cancer

France has just announced a plan to "reduce inequalities in the face of cancer." This has an admirably republican ring to it, but what does it actually mean?
Le plan vise à réduire le délai moyen d'attente pour obtenir un examen par IRM pour bénéficier d'un diagnostic. Actuellement de 27 jours, il devra passer à 20 jours maximum sur l'ensemble du territoire.
The subject is of more than usual interest to me because I was diagnosed with cancer in the fall of 2012. My first MRI came within 2 days of the initial tentative diagnosis. In the course of my treatment, the intense phase of which lasted about 3 months, I had 3 PET scans and a dozen more MRIs in conjunction with fractionated radiation therapy. (The treatment was successful, in case you're wondering.)

To a patient like me, 20 days sounds like a very long time to wait for an MRI. No doubt that's an average across all uses of MRI, and the rationing would be different for a patient undergoing intense radiotherapy. Still, I wonder what my situation would have been had I been in France. When I hear comparisons of the French and American medical systems, I wonder how fine-grained the comparisons are. It's true that American medicine is horribly expensive, but when you're sick, it's awfully nice to have an abundance of resources at your disposal.

Forgive me for abandoning my preferred sober analytic approach. In this instance I think I'm entitled to express gratitude, even if I have to concede that anecdote is not evidence and it would be wrong to draw any sweeping conclusions from my individual experience.