If ignorance is bliss, what's the benefit of early detection?

If ignorance is bliss, what's the benefit of early detection?

by Sean Ruck, Contributing Editor | June 01, 2013
From the June 2013 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

If you've been a regular reader of DOTmed Business News over the years, you've had a chance to learn a bit about me. I know I mentioned the birth of my son a few years ago and I believe I mentioned my daughter Eliza's birth a few months back. This month there's some more personal info as an article we're covering strikes a chord with me. In this case, the feature on radiopharmaceuticals (page 26) was an article I was interested in because of a family history of Alzheimer's. So I read about the new techniques to help in the detection of the disease with personal interest. Still, the information ultimately got me to thinking - what's the benefit of detecting a disease that there's no cure for and very few options in way of treatment? Are victims better off knowing a little earlier?

If the situation were the same for cancer, I can't imagine reimbursement would be anywhere near what it is today. Really, I believe proper medical care is meant to improve or extend life. Yet having a procedure done to discover you have something incurable and untreatable just doesn't seem to fit the bill. Getting that early diagnosis just means people can't chalk mental deterioration up to old age. It means facing facts earlier and I'm not convinced that's serving to improve the patient's life. However, if early diagnosis of Alzheimer's actually proves useful to finding a cure, then I stand corrected and of course, I'm happy if that's the case.

Of course, one of the technologies that pairs up with radiopharmaceuticals is molecular imaging. We offer some updates on what's going on with that technology in our molecular imaging industry sector report (page 31). The cover story offers a look at where the technology currently stands and what developments may be in store for the future.

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We also offer some Q & A sessions worth reading. The first is with SNMMI president Dr. Frederic Fahey (page 51). Fahey offers some updates and insight into the workings of the society and obviously SNMMI is going to be even more of a key player in the shaping of health care's future. Meanwhile, the Q & A with SIIM chair Dr. Raymond Geis (page 55) is interesting because it's rare that we have a chance to visit with an association's leadership two years in a row since many have just single-year terms. So getting a chance to catch up with Geis to see how last year's initiatives shaped up and to get a chance to see what others are slated was really interesting.

Now, one of the other things you may have noticed if you're a regular reader is that we've continually worked to improve the content and the look of the magazine over the years. In this issue though, we've stepped it up and made quite a few design changes. I invite you to chime in and share your opinion of the changes and let us know if you like the new look. I also welcome you to share any ideas on what you'd like to see (layout, content or otherwise) in future issues.

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