I work in the health care system, and I see first-hand how caring the doctors and health care professionals are, and how they will move mountains if necessary to help anyone who needs help. If you think that sounds a bit melodramatic, it's not. I have seen doctors spend hours with patients who have been diagnosed with serious or life-threatening illnesses, making sure the patients get the help they need with medical attention, diagnostic examinations, treatment and even providing outreach workers to help the patients psychologically in addition to their medical help. In British Columbia, a patient can have an x-ray done at a northern outpost, the x-ray can be posted to a grid and read instantly by a radiologist in Vancouver. The same applies to other laboratory and diagnostic tests. And if treatment is required, the patient receives it immediately. There is a province-wide computer network of all patients' medications, so no patient can "doctor shop" for duplications of medications, or inadvertently take medications that have adverse effects on each other. In other words, we have actually progressed from leeches and blood-letting.
So, I was quite pleased to read the following article in today's Vancouver Sun newspaper:
(Vancouver – March 10) Research published today in the New England Journal of Medicine sheds new light on which Hodgkin lymphoma patients are likely to relapse after receiving treatment.
BC Cancer Agency researchers have discovered that the number of macrophages – a type of white blood cell that normally scavenges foreign material – found in a patient’s tumour had a strong correlation to treatment outcome. The greater the number of macrophages; the greater the likelihood of a relapse.
Hodgkin lymphoma is a cancer of lymphocytes which typically affects young adults, but can occur at any age. It is a highly treatable form of cancer, with about 75 to 85 percent of patients cured with initial treatment. However, if the first therapy fails, secondary treatment usually includes a bone marrow transplant, which is only successful for about one-half of these cases.
“The study demonstrates that high numbers of macrophages are associated with treatment resistance in Hodgkin lymphoma suggesting a way to identify the 25 percent of patients who currently don’t respond well,” says Dr. Joseph Connors, one of the study researchers and clinical director of the BC Cancer Agency’s Centre for Lymphoid Cancer.
The research was conducted with funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research with additional funding from BC Cancer Agency Centre for Lymphoid Cancer, the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research, the Lymphoma Research Foundation, and the Cancer Research Society of Canada.
In a perfect world, no one would ever get sick, but unfortunately that's not the case. As I have said many times before, I am puzzled as to why a wealthy country like that big country to the south of us has such spotty health care -- two different systems for the haves and the have-nots. We love our cousins to the south; they're Canada's best friends, and we hope they get their health care problem fixed, and we hope they get it right. Whatever works for them is definitely the best solution. And what works in Canada may not work for them, but perhaps we here in