This story by investment blogger Mish Shedlock about a prostate cancer diagnosis illustrates the bias of doctors toward dangerous expensive treatments:
The biopsy showed I had cancer. My “Gleason Score” was 6. The surgeon who performed the biopsy strongly recommended surgery. He gave me a cost of $20,000.
Bad recommendation. Shedlock got rid of his cancer, as measured by PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) tests, without surgery or any other expensive or dangerous treatment.
The surgeon said something else also highly misleading. He told Shedlock he was “10% cancerous”. When Shedlock repeated this to his oncologist,
The oncologist replied “That’s not correct. Of the 12 samples, only one had cancer and one was questionable. The cancerous sample was 10% cancerous.” Now that is a hell of a lot different than being 10% overall cancerous.
His oncologist seemed unfamiliar with data:
I informed the oncologist that I was going to have a PSA test every month. He commented something along the lines of “Why do you want to do that? Every six months is sufficient. The tests are not that reliable.” . . . [I thought:] The more unreliable a test is, the more tests one should take to weed out erroneous outlier results.
This reminds me of the dermatologist I had in graduate school. After I tested the two medicines he had prescribed for my acne, and found that one of them didn’t work, and told him this, he said, “Why did you do that?” Haha.
The oncologist predicted that the cocktail that cured Shedlock “would not do [him] any good”.
I am sorry Shedlock does not name the doctors involved, as I did in a similar situation. I too avoided recommended surgery and my surgeon made highly misleading statements. Shedlock wrote about bad health care more generally here.
Thanks to Steve Hansen.