Wednesday, June 17, 2015

What’s Holding Back the Prostate Cancer Cure?

As I go through my own trials and treatment with prostate cancer, there has been a nagging question in the back of my mind. Why, with all the research and new developments, with the billions spent on treatment and millions on research, with the over 27,000 men who will die this year just in the U.S., are we not proceeding faster toward a prostate cancer cure?

Certainly it’s not for lack research. Taking a look at the vast volume of prostate cancer research from around the world there are abundant possibilities for cures. There are even recorded instances of individuals curing themselves using modified non-approved procedures and treatment plans developed from new scientific discoveries. Then there are the treatments that have years of successes from other areas around our world that have not gained acceptance in the U.S. There are even medically approved procedures in the U.S. that are still unavailable to the million prostate cancer patients. One has to as why? What is holding these curative procedures back from reaching the patients?

When looking at prostate cancer on a global basis, our lack of progress does not appear to be from a failure to innovate. It appears to come from a failure to initiate, or better yet, from a failure to implement new promising treatments and discoveries. I have thought about this for a long time, and my only conclusion is that this burying of healing options is profit driven, both on a micro and macro scale. Let me provide some examples.

Recently I wanted to obtain a test called a Circulating Tumor Cell-Prostate, or CTC. Many patients and doctors do not even know this test exists. Yet, it has been around for a long time. Clinical data from 26 independent prospective studies involving more than 2,800 patients have been published in more than 100 peer-reviewed publications that validate the clinical performance and value of the test. From 2010 to 2012 alone, more than 85,000 U.S. patients and their oncologists used this test to better understand the progression of disease and make more informed treatment decisions. Based on tests at the University of Texas researchers discovered that the presence of 5 or more circulating tumor cells had the highest predictive value compared to all other tumor markers. The researchers further stated, “Circulating tumor cells have superior and independent prognostic value in determining future treatment.

Doctors at Columbia University in New York discovered that CTC testing can predict which men with prostate cancer are likely to benefit from surgery. They determined that CTC status was superior to PSA levels and Gleason score at predicting potential surgical failure. This information is paramount in determining the course and timing of future treatments of prostate cancer. It not only can predict which treatments may be most effective, it also can provide a benchmark to let one know if current treatments are successful; and if one’s prostate cancer is staying in remission.

So highly thought of for its place in the treatment of prostate and other cancers, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) established a national payment rate for the interpretation code. This demonstrates the increasing evidence of the clinical utility of CTC testing, in conjunction with other testing methods, as a predictor of overall and progression-free survival. So the test is Medicare approved.

Recently, now that I’ve reached the age of Medicare, I wanted a follow-up to the CTC test I had over a year ago. For that initial test I had to educate my doctor about its existence, and then pay for it in full when my insurance company declined coverage declaring the CTC test as investigational. This time around, I had my primary care doctor order the test and seek pre-approval from insurance for payment. Once again I was declined insurance coverage saying the test was investigational, and that I needed a Urology Specialist to build a case for the order rather than my primary care doctor. Remember Medicare covers the test. So I started searching for an Urologist to order the test. What I discovered was both frightening and disheartening.

Of the reportedly top prostate urologists in my area, approved by my insurance company for coverage, none were using the CTC test in their practice. Many said they did not know of the test’s existence, and one went on to say they saw no value for the test in their practice. Yet every one of these doctors would heartily recommend giving you a blind biopsy on a regular basis. So here we have a well-documented test, approved by Medicare, yet doctors supposedly in the know as experts in their fields are not taking advantage of the test. Why?

Again the answer comes down to money. What is the first thing most doctors do at this level? They specialize. Their specialty could be surgery, radiation, chemo or cryo, or any number of niche procedures within similar avenues. Now there are over a million men with prostate cancer living in the U.S. and over 220,000 adding to the list each year. So these specialists have no shortage of patients. In fact, just try calling one of these doctors to arrange a non-billable interview to see if you like their form of treatment. Most likely, you will never get past the financial receptionist.

Here is the simple truth. Doctors are so overwhelmed with prostate cancer patients right now they have all they can do just to keep up with there current case load, procedures, and testing without adding something new to the mix. And with patient appointments billing out at $400 to $500 per 30-minute or less visits, there is simply no profit in learning a new procedure or test and having to evaluate it for yourself. Then there is the insurance hassle. Doctors know exactly what insurance will cover based on their history of insurance payments. Why bother to fight with the insurance companies for tests and procedures not previously performed? Their plate is already full with easy insurance payments. The financial return for new procedures is simply not worth it. Because of this, they rely on generally accepted methods of practice, never looking outside their box, or narrow area of practice.

Add to this the difficulty of getting any new drug or procedure approved for cancer treatment in the U.S., or for that matter in most countries around the world. It is a very long and arduous process, often taking 5 to 10 years and costing tens of millions of dollars. This is one reason that natural cures that are not patentable will never make it to the doctor approved standards of practice list. There simply is no financial return and the cost of doing the testing is too expensive. Our system is setup so only the most expensive drugs make it to the doctor’s doorstep, while natural affordable cures are left for private experimentation. That does not mean the natural cures are less valuable. In fact, they often have better results that the laboratory created products, but they have not been through the years of documentation and testing. So what doctor wants to provide a product to their patient that is not on the official approved list? What doctor wants to offer a product or procedure, that although may provide better results, could open them to a lawsuit, medical sanctions, or more hassles with their insurance and the patient’s insurance company? Again it comes down to money and return on investment.

And what would happen if there were cheap drugs, an affordable pill, to cure cancer? Would it make it to the market? This is actually a tough question. World wide prostate cancer is a $50 Billion dollar market. In the U.S. there are over 1,000,000 prostate biopsies done each year. Think of all the doctors and support staff put out of work if we had an affordable cure for cancer. We would have financial collapse if a cure were dropped on the market.

Just take a look at a simple nutritional product used today and review the recent announcement that trans fat would finally be banned in U.S. products because it is creating disease. Did you also hear those making the announcement say in the same breath that they would allow 3 years for the trans fat to be phased out, and manufacturers could file for exceptions to this ruling? Kind of makes you wonder. Trans fat bad, killing people, and we are still allowing 3 years plus additional exceptions. Why? Because of the economic impact! Just think what would happen with an affordable cancer cure, and the vast economic impact that would have on our economy. Could it be there is a financial reason non-patentable and affordable cancer curative drugs never are found in the realm of established allopathic medical practices? What might they do to the revenue form expensive current procedures?

Now I know I have taken some broad strokes with this discussion, yet the simple truth remains, if you take a look at all the promising prostate cancer research, and treatments from around the world, there is so much more we could be doing to cure prostate cancer if it wasn't for the profit motives holding us back. There is so much more that our doctors could be doing today, that they are unaware of, or haven’t taken the time to learn.

We could focus more research and provide treatment applications using PectaSol, PSP and PSK from Turkeytail, Tocotrienols, Artemisinin with Transferrin, Black Seed Oil, EGCG, Maitake, Melatonin, Marijuana, Progesterone, Thymoquine, Indol-3-Carbinol, and so many more. We could take a better look at treatments such as SPDT, Hyperthermia, Immunotherapy with Immune Modulators like Thymogen. And we can expand mandatory insurance coverage for Oncoblot, PHI, CTC, C-11 Choline and C-11 Acetate Tests, plus adding insurance coverage for NanoKnife and Focal Laser Ablation.

If we are to cure prostate cancer, it is time we did away with the self-imposed financial restrictions and started looking at 'all' curative options. With the hundreds of thousands of men annually dying around the world of this deadly disease, isn’t it time we took off the financial restrictions to finding the cure, and started making every possible option available?

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