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The Cancer Industry

The international tobacco industry makes about £30 billion in profits each year – a profit of approximately £6,000 per death from smoking.
Tripling tobacco taxes around the world could cut smoking by a third and prevent 200 million premature deaths by the end of this century, researchers claim. In the European Union, a doubling of cigarette prices would prevent 100,000 deaths a year in the under-70s. 
The new tax would encourage people to quit smoking rather than switch from more expensive to cheaper brands, and help to stop young people taking up the habit, say the scientists. They came to the conclusion after conducting a systematic review of 63 studies on the causes and consequences of tobacco use in different countries. In high-income countries, 50 to 60 per cent of the price of a pack of cigarettes is tax. But in low- and middle-income countries, tax makes up only 30 to 40 per cent of the cost. Tripling tobacco taxes would also increase global government revenues from tobacco by…

The cost of cancer

Allan Cowie, general manager for Macmillan Cancer Support in Scotland, has revealed that after fear of pain, money worry is patients’ greatest cause of stress. And demeaning work assessments ruling people are fit to work are also causing unnecessary suffering.


Many Scots, according to the charity boss, have been left with the fear of being labelled scroungers, meaning vital benefits go unclaimed. Cowie said:

“ We worry the stigmatisation of those on benefits may mean patients with cancer are too ashamed to claim. We have encountered cases of terrible poverty. We have heard of instances where people only worry about benefits when they face losing their home. Up until that point, they are more concerned with the dreadful worry of if they will live or die. We have also heard of cases where people have no food in their homes because they have channelled all their money into keeping a roof over their heads. This is not acceptable in this day and age.”

Cancer sufferers face additional cost…

NHS rationing

What is the value of a few precious extra months of life? It's a very difficult question to answer, but if Scottish Medicines Consortium's is to be believed then, it is not worth £2.5 million.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in Scotland, with 2700 cases diagnosed every year. It kills two men every day. There are 19,000 Scottish men currently living with the disease.

Last October, Alex Salmond, the First Minister, signed up to a charter calling for better treatment for patients.

The Scottish Medicines Consortium has denied Scottish men a drug that prolongs life. It said the cost of abiraterone at £3000 a month did not justify the health benefits – even though it can extend lives by more that three months .

In a letter to the Scottish government, sufferer John Thomson writes "It is a disgraceful decision, cruel and unjust, that abiraterone is not available simply because of cost. How do you evaluate the cost of drugs against someone’s life?...This drug not onl…

making cancer victims suffer

New research by a leading charity reveals that hundreds of cancer patients are living close to the breadline due to their illness, with 73% experiencing a loss of income and increased costs such as hospital travel and higher utility bills. Cancer patients in Scotland are skipping meals and worrying about losing their homes because of a drop in income and higher living costs.

Around 30,000 people in Scotland are diagnosed with cancer each year, costing many of them thousands of pounds.

Elspeth Atkinson, director of Macmillan Scotland said: “Cancer is an expensive disease to live with, but this research shows just how close to the breadline many cancer patients really are."

Research has shown that more than half of all terminally ill cancer patients do not claim benefits they are entitled to. Complicated benefits forms, a lack of awareness of entitlements, embarrassment or simply feeling too ill or emotionally drained, prevents many people accessing welfare benefits.

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Cancer of Capitalism

Professor David Cameron, an expert in breast cancer from Edinburgh University, said new treatments were increasingly being developed which targeted specific subtypes of cancer, helping make them more effective.

"These drugs are expensive. Some of that is the real cost of developing them and some of that is if you are only going for a subset of cancer then your total predicted sales will be less," Prof Cameron told The Scotsman. "The business model of the company will be that in order to develop the money to develop the drug your subsequent sales in the patent lifetime have to be sufficient to cover all your costs. So actually, the cost for rarer cancer is likely to be higher and not lower."

Why Bother?

A senior consultant surgeon has spoken out against screening patients for bowel cancer in Scotland’s most deprived areas...because they are likely to suffer from other serious conditions which could kill them anyway.
Angus Macdonald, consultant colorectal surgeon at Monklands Hospital in Airdrie, said that in his experience in Lanarkshire, an area of high deprivation with one of the country’s lowest life expectancies, many patients with small tumours were more likely to die from other conditions before the cancer claims their life. Health officials estimate that the NHS’s bowel cancer screening programme, for people between the ages of 50 and 74, could prevent 150 deaths annually. But Macdonald argues for some sections of the population it would not actually change the age at which a patient will die. “When you roll out a screening programme there is a very real possibility that you will identify cancers in the people who would normally have died from something else. We mi…

Hypocrisy by the banks

I read that David Lloyd, 62, was told he had terminal lung cancer in January 2006, his wife, Annette Edwards, contacted their bank, the Halifax, to let them know of his predicament and that he would no longer be able to work. They applied for a payout on an insurance policy, and for state benefits, but while they waited for the money to arrive they went overdrawn.
The bank and its agents telephoned the couple 762 times over seven months in what they say is aggressive pursuit of the debt . Their daughter, Stefanie Moore, 29, received 60 to 100 phone calls and two text messages .

The couple feel dehumanised .

Yes that what capitalism does to people . Socialist Courier wonders if the banks now in debt , begging for government bail-outs will ever be treated in such a shameles and heartless manner to demand repayment

work is bad for your health

Writing in the European Journal of Oncology, Prof Watterson, an expert in occupational health, said "In Scotland more people die from occupational cancers than die from road traffic fatalities, murder and suicide all combined."
He estimated that about 10% of all cancers were work related.While the issue is usually associated with older industries involving asbestos, Prof Watterson said carcinogens were present in diesel, pesticides, silica, wood dust and solvents. He added that Scotland gives a higher priority to road deaths and murders, which claimed about 1,250 lives in 2003/04, than it does to tackling work-related cancers.

Economic formulas not medical ones decide treatment

Previously reported here has been the inherent failure of the National Health Service due to the constraints of capitalism to offer full effective treatments . Another report confirms Socialist Courier's diagnosis .

Some of the UK's top cancer consultants warn that NHS drug 'rationing' is forcing patients to remortgage their homes to pay for treatment. The specialists accuse the government drugs advisory body of 'rationing' too severely and call for a "radical change" in the way decisions are made.

In their letter, the 26 cancer specialists say the decision shows how "poorly" NICE assesses new cancer treatments."Its economic formulas are simply not suitable for addressing cost-effectiveness in this area of medicine," they write. "We have seen distraught patients remortgaging their houses, giving up pensions and selling cars to buy drugs that are freely available to those using health services in countries of comparable wealth.&q…

nhs charges

A poll by Macmillan Cancer Support suggests nearly half of cancer patients in England are being forced to cut back on basic necessities in order to pay for their prescriptions.

Breast cancer survivor Amanda Whetstone says she regularly skips breakfast and lunch to save money to pay for her prescriptions.

"Although my cancer treatment - the surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy - has finished, I still need medication. As a result of my cancer I'm now on three different drugs. They cost me about £44 a month. That may not sound much to some, but I'm struggling financially. I'm now on statutory sick pay because I've been too unwell to work. My income is £360 per month and, quite frankly, I have barely enough money to live on.I budget for everything. I don't go out because I can't afford to socialise. I can't even invite friends over for a meal because I can't afford the food.I don't eat breakfast or lunch. The meals I do buy are ones that are on s…

health and wealth

We here at Socialist Courier have frequently posted stories that reveal the class link concerning health -- the wealthier you are , the better health you possess and the longer you live . Another report once again confirms this view .

The importance of money was illustrated by an ethnic breakdown of outcomes in the US. White Americans, who are on the whole wealthier and therefore more able to afford the insurance which underpins the US system, were up to 14% more likely than others to survive cancer.Meanwhile the report states that the UK had 69.7% survival for breast cancer, just above 40% for colon and rectal cancer for both men and women and 51.1% for prostate cancer. And "...there were also large regional variations within the UK, which were linked to differences in access to care and ability of patients to navigate the local health services. Both are directly linked to deprivation..."

What price a life ?

A cancer patient who was forced to pay out £3,400 per fortnight for the life-saving drug cetuximab has won his battle for funding , having previously been refused the treatment on the NHS , according to the BBC .

Originally ,the Scottish Medicines Consortium said it was not cost-effective because it could only prolong life, not cure him.

Preserving life for as long as possible should be the responsibility of the NHS , the patient is quoted as saying .

Maybe so , but under capitalism , there is always a price tag and a value placed upon a person's life . Not everyone is as fortunate as this patient was .

Poor health

Women from deprived backgrounds are treated differently and have a lower breast cancer survival rate than more affluent women , says a study

The charity Cancer Research UK studied nearly 13,000 patients from England's Northern and Yorkshire health regions. It found deprived women were less likely to be diagnosed in the early stages of disease, when treatment is most likely to be effective. They were also less likely to have surgery or radiotherapy.

The British Journal of Cancer study found that among the most affluent group, 40% had lumpectomies, which allow breast conservation, rather than full mastectomies to remove the breast. However, the figure among the most deprived group was just 31%.

They said that more women from deprived areas were likely to favour a mastectomy because it is a one-off treatment, whereas lumpectomy requires a course of radiotherapy, and therefore regular trips to a clinic, which can be difficult and costly.

The study also found that more than 22% of women f…

Capitalism is a Cancer

Bucharest will witness a protest demonstration of a grisly kind today. The streets of the Romanian capital will be filled with cancer patients pleading with a government that they say has turned its back on them.

More than 370,000 patients have been diagnosed with cancer in Romania but only 76,000 are in treatment, according to official estimates. This year's budget for cancer treatment has been set at 336 million lei (£65 million), a fraction of the amount spent in other EU member states. The UK, with a population less than three times as big as Romania's, spent £4.3 billion on cancer in 2005-06. Many women with breast and gynaecological cancers who had had surgery and radiotherapy are unable to get chemotherapy.

In September, the government ordered a ban on newly trained doctors joining two-year oncology [ the study and treatment of tumors ] courses to qualify as specialists - the first EU member state to obliterate the specialty of oncology - replacing it with a 4 month cour…