Monday, 7 October 2013

Live with it

Today I’ve been interviewing Professor Roger Stupp in Zurich. He’s an important man because nearly ten years ago he discovered a combination of radiotherapy and chemotherapy that significantly extended the life expectancy of people with brain tumours.
But interestingly, he told me that looking for “cures” for all cancers was the wrong priority for researchers. Many potentially other life-threatening conditions that people live with every day are not curable, and few live in the expectation of cure. Heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, he pointed out, are all conditions that are controlled not cured with drugs, or lifestyle modification. The priority, said Stupp, should be to give people the maximum quality of life, while controlling the conditions to extend life.
Most ailments either go away by themselves or stick around, often unnoticed, sometimes thankfully held in check by treatments. Cures don’t come round that often, so when you think about it, it’s remarkable that so many cancers are now effectively curable. When it comes to most illness – whether it be damaged arteries, heart disease, waterworks problems, piles or persistent athletes foot – men have to live with it.