GIULIANI’S LATEST….The Washington Post notes that Rudy Giuliani will be running a new radio ad in New Hampshire starting today:
In the radio spot, Giuliani mentions his battle with prostate cancer and notes that his chances of surviving the disease in America were 82 percent, while in England his chances would have been 44 percent.
“You and I should be making the decisions about what kind of health care we get with our doctors, not with a government bureaucrat,” Giuliani says in the ad.
You will be unsurprised to learn that Giuliani is full of shit. As you can see from the chart on the right, Britain and the United States have virtually identical mortality rates from prostate cancer. The only reason the U.S. has a higher survival rate is because we diagnose way more prostate cancer than Britain in the first place. In other words, the difference probably isn’t that we’re any better at prostate cancer surgery than the Brits, but that we aggressively screen for even mild cases of prostate cancer that probably aren’t life-threatening in the first place — and then, unsurprisingly, we go on to survive all these non-threatening cancers regardless of treatment. So not only is Giuliani’s statistic bogus, but it might actually reflect poorly on U.S. practices. British mortality rates from prostate cancer are just as good as ours, and they manage this without wasting time, money, and emotional distress on overdiagnosis or overtreatment.
Steve Benen complains that “The WaPo piece simply passes along [Giuliani’s] claim as if it were true, and then inserts the ad into the horserace narrative.” That’s exactly right. I suppose Chris Cillizza and Shailagh Murray would say that they were just writing a short blurb on campaign tactics, not a policy piece, but the fact remains that they’ve passed along a bogus statistic because it was too complicated to explain what’s really going on behind Giuliani’s scary-sounding numbers. We’ll see if someone else picks up the slack.
In the meantime, read Jon Cohn for more on this. It’s several paragraphs long and doesn’t pretend that we know for sure everything that’s going on here, but that’s life. Sometimes it takes more than a single sentence to explain things.