Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Radiation Therapy. Is it safe?

My blog often highlights ConMed drugs because they cause disease and kill. But what about other ConMed 'therapies'? Radiation therapy is increasing, for a variety of testing and treatments. Are they safe? I have recently come across this - from the New York Times, giving access to a variety of articles examining the issues that are arising from the increasing use of medical radiation, and the technologies that deliver it. It makes frightening reading


http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/us/series/radiation_boom/index.html?ref=health

Topics include:
After stroke scans, patients face serious new health risks
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/01/health/01radiation.html?_r=1&ref=radiation_boom
Radiation faces new cures, and new way to harm
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/24/health/24radiation.html?ref=radiation_boom
As technology surges, radiation safeguards lag
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/27/us/27radiation.html?ref=radiation_boom

To support these growing concerns, and to show that they are not new, this is an extract from Kevin Morris's book, called "It's only a disease; how I fought terminal cancer and won" which features the history of the treatment of cancer with radiotherapy.

"The story of radiotherapy's rise to prominence as a cancer treatment is 
a fascinating one. James Douglas of the Phelps-Dodge copper mining 
company, set up the National Radium Institute in 1913. At the same time, 
he made a massive, one hundred thousand- dollar gift to Memorial 
Hospital in the United States. As the hospital was in serious financial 
difficulties, Douglas' gift was most welcome, but it came with several 
strings attached. He insisted that the hospital only treat cancer 
patients, that it routinely offer radium treatment, and he also 
installed his friend as chief pathologist and later as medical director. 
The Memorial went on to become one of the main cancer research and 
treatment centres in the States and radiation treatment was on offer 
there from the beginning. Douglas' shrewd moves placed the Memorial 
Hospital in the position of being a distribution centre for the radium 
produced by his mining interests.

In 1902, the first incidence of a human cancer brought about by 
X-radiation was noted and in 1906 it was suggested that exposure to 
radiation from radium could cause leukaemia. By 1911, 94 cases of 
radiation induced cancer had been reported, more than half of them in 
doctors or technicians. In 1911, 94 cases of cancer caused by radiation 
had been noted. Despite these serious cautions, doctors appeared to be 
swayed into using it by the profit motive. In 1914, one doctor told the 
New York Times that,

"Something is created which kills many patients. I cannot tell, nobody 
can tell, for four or five years just what the results will be. I simply 
feel that I've shoved these patients over a little quicker." /The sting 
in the tail came in the doctor's comment that '/I can double my money in 
a year while charging 4 cents per milligram per hour.' New York Times, 
January 27 1914.



What Kevin suggests here is that the concerns about radiation have been around for a long time - and that ConMed does not seem to learn from its many, regular mistakes that put patients at risk.