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Darzignosing cancer

Copperfield dissects the Labour Party's plan for a one week wait for cancer diagnostics

I'm going to ban cancer. Not the disease, obviously. But the word. Why? Because the politicians are repeatedly adopting it as an emotive drum to bang. And, frankly, this is getting more annoying than any number of awareness campaigns or pink ribbons.

Not only do we have the much trumpeted two week target for cancer referrals, plus the more recent pledge to provide test results within a week, we now hear that these fab new diagnostic services will be hosted in Darzi centres . So that's what they're for.

As any medical fule kno, these targets are entirely arbitrary and often unnecessary.

‘Cancer' covers a massive range of pathology, varying – depending on organ, histology, spread and so on – from the utterly innocuous to the drop-dead dangerous. This renders the umbrella term ‘cancer' meaningless – the only consistency about the word is the chill it evokes in punters, a fact the politicians are happy to exploit.

And the ridiculous Circus of Caring it engenders means that other illnesses at least as worthy – anything from cardiac failure to colitis – remain marginalised.

So let's sidestep the obvious irony in the story. Sorry, didn't I mention that? The politicians intend to focus resources on cancer diagnostics rather than widening access to expensive treatments.

Which means we can all enjoy glorious consultations along the lines of: ‘The good news, Mrs Brown, is that we've Darzignosed your cancer within a few weeks of you coming to see us. The bad is that we're going to do f**k all about it.'

Yes, let's ignore that. Because I want to stick to my main theme. The word ‘cancer' does no good, does some harm and has been misappropriated by the politicians as an emblem of how compassionate they are. So let's get rid of it. Then let's get rid of them.



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