August 2000

Conventionally Speaking

By Michael J. Katin, MD

This month the national conventions of the major political parties will be held and all Americans will be glued to their televisions. Even though they will be watching "Survivor" and "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" occasionally they might be inadvertently exposed to sound bites from the candidates. Unfortunately, it is very unlikely any of these will deal with the topic of radiation oncology.

It seems unfair that most other special interests have had a day in the limelight whereas radiation oncology seems to have stealth characteristics. Social Security seems to always be popular, but in selected years such topics as farm subsidies, voting rights, and capital gains have had their mention. It's embarrassing that this year it is probable that the strategic missile defense program will receive comment in everyone's platform, and radiation oncology will be again ignored. There may be generic references to biotechnology but that's probably as far as it'll go.

Maybe there's still time to influence some of the candidates, possibly reminding them who'll be waiting for them when the PSA starts to rise. Unfortunately, for the 212th consecutive year, none of the possible tickets features even one physician, let alone an oncologist. To make things even worse, one of the potential Democratic vice-presidential selections, Senator John Edwards of North Carolina, is a personal injury attorney. The only United States President who even briefly attended medical school was William Henry Harrison, who presaged Pope John Paul I by lasting one month after reaching office. If only he had lived, who knows what the APCs would look like today?

Next month: proposed radiation oncology campaign issues.

email: mkatin@radiotherapy.com