Monday, October 09, 2006

Remove politics from cancer

Last week, the millionaire actress, Nicole Kidman came to London to mark the launch of Breast Cancer Awareness Month campaign. Kidman has a profoundly good reason for wanting to highlight breast cancer, her mother suffered from the terrible disease when she was only 17. For Kidman, and for many people, the fight against breast cancer is charged with emotionalism and subjectivity - however, we cannot, nor should we, allow the provision of cancer health care to be driven by such emotional campaigns.

The pink-ribbon breast cancer awareness campaign acually ends up pitching one cancer against another. The use of a high profile actress to bring this particular disease into the limelight risks dividing cancer sufferers - the pink-ribbon campaign has a tendency of pulling away the spotlight, and more importantly, it drives away precious resources from other cancer health research, like lung cancer. We should remember that lung cancer kills far more people than breast cancer in the UK. Lung cancer research hasn't got celebrities to stop the traffic to raise funds, or to influence debates and raise 'awareness'.

There is no doubt that cancer care in Britain needs to be radically improved, but the last thing we need is to attach values to different cancers based solely on its political profile. I'm not the only one who has reservations about the politicisation of breast cancer, the former professor of cancer medicine, Karol Sikora, argued in The Observer, that when;

"Nicole Kidman launched Breast Cancer Awareness Month at Madame Tussauds on Friday, she contributed to a process which will put breast cancer at a higher level than colon cancer in the political mind."

I don't think it's right, that when it comes down to rationing of resources in the health service, that breast cancer, with its pink-ribbons and high profile celebrities, is seen to fare better than any other cancer - is that really fair?

Update:

Do read: Honest Medicine's Julia Schopick responds to Sen. Joe Biden. Oct 2007

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7 Comments:

At 7:49 PM, Blogger Paula said...

Not fair at all. Here in the U.S., heart disease, as unglamorous as it is, remains the No. 1 killer, and ought to be the No. 1 priority of health care and "awareness."

Good post!

 
At 8:16 PM, Anonymous Julia Schopick said...

I was very glad to read your article on the breast cancer/"think pink" phenomenon.

For a different twist on the topic of the "pinking" of breast cancer awareness, please see the link on my website, http://www.honestmedicine.typepad.com, to the article "Welcome to Cancerland: A Mammogram Leads to a Cult of Pink Kitsch" by Barbara Ehrenreich. (You can access the article by going to the left side of my site, under “articles of importance.”)

This article will give visitors to your site a different perspective on the topic! It is a classic.

Sincerely,
Julia Schopick
www.honestmedicine.typepad.com

 
At 2:27 AM, Anonymous Ruth said...

No, it isn't fair - but there you have it. Money talks.

 
At 4:49 PM, Blogger Cheezy said...

Totally unfair... but such is life... I guess we'll all just have to cross our fingers and hope it's one of those 'trendy' maladies that eventually afflicts us all, and not one of those 'terminally' (pun not intended) unfashionable ones like lung cancer :-/

 
At 4:50 PM, Blogger Cheezy said...

Totally unfair... but such is life... I guess we'll all just have to cross our fingers and hope it's one of those 'trendy' maladies that eventually afflicts us all, and not one of those 'terminally' (pun not intended) unfashionable ones like lung cancer :-/

 
At 7:27 PM, Anonymous Jon said...

I agree. The implication of slogans like "Think Pink", and staging women-only fun-runs, is that breast cancer is somehow a feminist issue. It isn't. There are medical conditions where a feminist analysis of problems and solutions could be helpful, but I don't see how this can be one of them.

 
At 2:30 PM, Anonymous Diana said...

i agreed completely! a friend sent me this: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=08Skefb6bQrWq95KHQGUZA_3d_3d

it's a survey about this whole issue. Please everyone respond! I'm glad to know that there are people out there who care!

 

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