Greg Freiherr, Industry Consultant
Greg Freiherr, Industry Consultant

Greg Freiherr has reported on developments in radiology since 1983. He runs the consulting service, The Freiherr Group.

Blog | Greg Freiherr, Industry Consultant | Radiology Imaging| June 15, 2016

How the Trump Candidacy Might Energize Men’s Healthcare

Trump, PSA, prostate cancer

Image courtesy of Pixabay.

Personalized medical care conjures an image of exactness. Precision. Its realization was once believed attainable through sequencing the human genome. But when that didn’t happen, the concept was redefined as healthcare tailored to the individual.

Finding disease at its earliest stages through screening is a big part of it. The widespread use of mammography and testing for the gene associated with breast cancer have gone a long way in this regard for women’s health. But how to achieve similar gains for men?

Donald Trump’s candidacy might provide the answer.

Trump may not have actually drawn more people to the GOP, as he has claimed over and over. But the presumptive Republican nominee unquestionably has brought voters into the political process earlier than ever before.

Might the segment of the electorate energized by Trump be harnessed to propel the technological development and ultimately widespread use of a screening test for prostate cancer? A major segment of Trump supporters — middle-aged men — is at risk of developing this disease.

Politics can be the fuel for technological development. Lobbyists can promote funding for research, technological development and the reimbursement of procedures. Lobbying may be especially effective when supported by grassroots efforts.

Nothing so incentivizes people like fear, a fact proven by Trump. And there is plenty of reason to be afraid of prostate cancer. According to the U.S. government, prostate cancer is the most common non-skin cancer and the second leading cause of cancer-related death in men in the United States. It was estimated that, in 2014, 233,000 men in the U.S. would be diagnosed with prostate cancer. Nearly 29,500 would die of the disease.

 

The “Unprotected”

As February drew to a close, Peggy Noonan of the Wall Street Journal wrestled with the incomprehensibility of Trump as the enunciated the idea of “protection” as an explanation GOP nominee and what had propelled him to that point. She opined that the protected in America — the elite who have money, live in safe neighborhoods, have functioning families, and whose kids go to good schools — make public policy. The unprotected, who have none of these and instead lived in the rougher world created for them, had begun to push back — powerfully, she wrote.

According to a survey from RAND Corporation, voters who agreed with the statement “people like me don't have any say about what the government does” were 86.5 percent more likely to prefer Trump.

Judging from Trump’s success, the unprotected want change. After the presidential election, will they acquiesce? Or might their wants be channeled to other causes? Might they be mobilized to support the development and use of a screening tool for prostate cancer? What will be needed for that to happen?

 

Better Testing Needed

One thing is for sure. The current blood test built on measuring prostate-specific antigen (PSA) needs to be replaced. Although the likelihood of prostate cancer increases with the rising levels of PSA, abnormal values have been associated with benign conditions, according to Harvard Medical School. PSA testing is so woefully inadequate that many advisory groups recommend against routine screening for prostate cancer. (A large American study found that screening for prostate cancer did not reduce the chance of dying from the disease.1)

Blood, tissue and urine samples may contain better biomarkers than PSA. Ongoing research is looking into those possibilities. And there are a number of imaging possibilities, including PET, SPECT and MRI.

Where might this technological potential take us? Probably nowhere, unless driven politically. To be successful, a campaign to develop and utilize a screening test for prostate cancer must resonate with a substantial block of voters.

The segment of the electorate energized by the Trump candidacy might be that block.

 

Additional reading:

1Andriole GL, Crawford ED, et al. Prostate cancer screening in the randomized Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial: mortality results after 13 years of follow-up. J National Cancer Institute 2012; 104:125.

Editor's note: This is the third blog in a four-part series on screening. The first blog, “Screening: How New Looks at Old Modalities Might Turn Imaging Upside Down,” can be found here. The second blog, “Why Developing Multiple Screening Technologies is a Must,” can be found here.

Related Content

Artificial Intelligence Performs As Well As Experienced Radiologists in Detecting Prostate Cancer
News | Artificial Intelligence | April 18, 2019
University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) researchers have developed a new artificial intelligence (AI) system to...
A smart algorithm has been trained on a neural network to recognize the appearance of breast cancer in MR images

A smart algorithm has been trained on a neural network to recognize the appearance of breast cancer in MR images. The algorithm, described at the SBI/ACR Breast Imaging Symposium, used “Deep Learning,“ a form of machine learning, which is a type of artificial intelligence. Graphic courtesy of Sarah Eskreis-Winkler, M.D.

Feature | Artificial Intelligence | April 12, 2019 | By Greg Freiherr
The use of smart algorithms has the potential to make healthcare more efficient.
Videos | RSNA | April 03, 2019
ITN Editor Dave Fornell takes a tour of some of the most interesting new medical imaging technologies displa
Four of the top pieces of content in March included news on proton therapy, including a 360 image and videos from ITN's recent visit to the Northwestern Medicine Proton Center in the Chicago suburbs. This image shows the main proton treatment room gantry at the proton center in Warrenville, Ill. Interview with Mark Pankuch, Ph.D.

Four of the top pieces of content in March included news on proton therapy, including a 360 image and videos from ITN's recent visit to the Northwestern Medicine Proton Center in the Chicago suburbs. This image shows the main proton treatment room gantry at the proton center in Warrenville, Ill.
 

Feature | April 02, 2019 | Dave Fornell, Editor and A.J. Connell
April 2, 2019 — Here is the list of the most popular content on the Imaging Technology News (ITN) magazine w
NIH Study of Brain Energy Patterns Provides New Insights into Alcohol Effects

NIH scientists present a new method for combining measures of brain activity (left) and glucose consumption (right) to study regional specialization and to better understand the effects of alcohol on the human brain. Image courtesy of Ehsan Shokri-Kojori, Ph.D., of NIAAA.

News | Neuro Imaging | March 22, 2019
March 22, 2019 — Assessing the patterns of energy use and neuronal activity simultaneously in the human brain improve
At #ACC.19, Siemens unveiled a version of its go.Top platform optimized for cardiovascular imaging. The newly packaged scanner can generate the data needed to do CT-based FFR (fractional flow reserve).

At #ACC.19, Siemens unveiled a version of its go.Top platform optimized for cardiovascular imaging. The newly packaged scanner can generate the data needed to do CT-based FFR (fractional flow reserve). Photo by Greg Freiherr

Feature | Cardiac Imaging | March 22, 2019 | By Greg Freiherr
Reflecting a trend toward the increased use of...