Doctors to be fitted with X-ray eyes in future.

Doctors who don’t spot a cancer within ten seconds of seeing a patient are to be publically humiliated and chastised by an idiot in government who couldn’t diagnose a missing head.

I was under the impression that doctors (the medical kind, not the proper ones) were human beings with all the inherent flaws of that species. Feeling a bit tired one day, a bit distracted another day, seeing a set of symptoms that match a particular infection they have seen before – but also matching a cancer they have not seen before.

Cancer can be said to be common if you include all the little benign ones that nobody pays any attention to, like that mole that hasn’t changed in fifty years. If it changes, especially if it gets all uppity and decides it wants to be a bigger percentage of your body mass, then get it checked out. As long as it does what normal moles do – nothing at all – leave it alone.

Deadly cancers are not common. They get more common when you get old because, you know, you’ve been driving that body around for 90 years and bits are going to wear out. Specifically, that immune system that has, all along, been dealing with cells that try to turn cancerous and finally decides ‘sod it, I’m going to let one grow to see what it does’.

By the time the immune system thinks ‘Oh. That’s what it does,’ it’s far too late.

Some cancers form lumps you can feel. Breast and testicular cancers can be felt from the outside, but even then, the lump might be a cyst or an abscess and not cancerous at all (but still unpleasant). Pancreatic cancer is a tough one. The pancreas is right in the middle, under your stomach, and has no pain receptors. A cancer in there won’t show symptoms until it’s well advanced. There is no way to feel for lumps without drilling a hole big enough to put your hand into.

“Well, the good news is that he didn’t have pancreatic cancer.”

“But, Doc, he’s dead.”

“Yeah, that happens a lot. We’re starting to think it might be the wrong type of drill.”

Okay, let’s look at it from the medic’s point of view. You might be the thirtieth he’s seen today and the other twenty-nine might have been hypochondriacs, shirkers looking for sick notes, and smokophobes I have talked with. Doctors see a lot of people convinced they have cancer when they don’t, thanks to the incessant scare stories put out by the media, charities, and cruel buggers fed up with hand-waving harridans. Faced with some vague symptoms described in a vague way by someone with no medical training and with only Blair’s vague idea of education to help them articulate, what is the doctor to do?

If he assumes it might be cancer every time then the consultants are going to come round to his surgery and stitch his fingers to his toes and his tongue to his navel. They do that when they are annoyed. It’s never reported, the BMA hush it up, but that’s what they do.

If they assume it might not be cancer then if it is, the patient might die. What they tend to do is say ‘Come back in a week or so and we’ll see if it’s better or worse’ because if it’s just a general malaise or a low-level infection it should have started to clear up by then.

But some cancers progress slowly. There might not be any change after a couple of weeks. It’s not better but it’s no worse either. There are no lumps in evidence, no bleeding from anywhere, nothing to definitely diagnose anything at all. Unless it’s leukaemia, the blood tests might not show anything. Perhaps they show an elevated white blood cell count – could mean anything: infection, cancer, stress, anything.

The complaints about having to make multiple visits to a doctor before cancer is suspected are unfounded. It can take multiple visits before cancer is even suspected. It is not as common as the charities dependent on it pretend. It is especially not common in the young. There are many, many things that can cause vague feelings of unwellness, fatigue and internal pain. Curries and whisky, if overdone, can cause that, but if it’s a case of  curryitis whiskalia, no need to trouble the doctor. It usually clears up by the afternoon.

Add into this the vague terms used by many patients who end every sentence with ‘innit’ and the absence of any surface evidence of damage and the waves of hypochondriacs and sick-note scroungers and it starts to become easy to see why doctors can sometimes miss a real case.

Then there is The Question.

“Do you smoke?”

Answer ‘No’ and cancer goes straight to the bottom of the list of possibilities. This is not the doctor’s fault. According to the NHS, if you live your life as directed by the Healthist religion, there can never be anything wrong with you and you will never die. NHS doctors have that drummed into them.

The same goes for “How much alcohol do you drink?” Answer ‘None at all’ and a whole range of possibilites are crossed off at once. Average weight for your height? Can’t be diabetes then.

The baker who used to work at Local Shop was, more than once in the few months our paths crossed, carted off in an ambulance because he had fallen into a diabetic coma. I’ve met him in passing since and it has happened again in his new job. He is not at all fat, he eats none of his own baking, drinks no booze at all, and looks like he has spent a lot of time in a gym. Lucky for him he was diagnosed as Type 1 diabetic before all the current lifestyle control nonsense took over. Any doctor would look at him now and think ‘Not obese. Can’t be diabetic’.

He does smoke though so he’d still get all the tests. If he didn’t smoke they’d let him die and never understand why that happened.

I’ve said it many times – if you have never smoked, never drank a drop of hard booze, never scoffed a cheeseburger, tell the doctor you used to. You will get tested for everything. You become a potential notch on the lifestyle-related-disease scorecard and they will search you for anything at all that could be wrong with you.

Not to help you. To get another datapoint for the statistics. ‘Look, look, this guy has seborrheic dermatitis, and he smokes. Therefore it is caused by smoking, That’s a new one for the list’. They love to jump to conclusions and to hell with the science.

As a side effect though, they will find what is wrong with you. It is worth it.

None of those news stories about ‘they missed my cancer’ ever include the line ‘I smoked for years and they didn’t think to check for cancer’ because if you tell them you smoke, it’s the first thing they look for.

Tell them you have never smoked and it’s the last thing they look for.

Worth keeping in mind, I’d say.


15 thoughts on “Doctors to be fitted with X-ray eyes in future.

  1. The only reason my cancer was found early was that I became anaemic, after tests showed it was iron deficiency nine out of ten doctors would have given me iron pills and that would have been that. Fortunately I have an old school Dr. who thought it was strange that I had never been anaemic before and sent me for further tests. I had no other symptoms at all but a CT picked up the lung nodule. As it happens the anaemia was nothing to do with the cancer but without it who knows when I would have had symptoms, probably only when it had spread. I also tell friends to say they used to smoke it certainly gets you attention.


  2. Nice column. I would nominate you for the new spokesman for most of the Cancer societies of this hopeless world, but since truth never gets a toe in the door it would be futile.

    Off topic. The last line in a Canadian series called Penny Dreadful was, ” If you were touched by a demon, and basically hit by the backhand of god, are you certain you really every want to be normal?” Me, I’ll pass…


  3. The ‘better safe than sorry’ approach probably doesn’t go down well with hospital bean counters – ‘you’ve wasted our time and money establishing that the referred patient is not in danger and next time wait until the symptoms are obvious’.


    • Well that’s the thing. If docs are going to get shouted at for not referring people they will just refer everyone. Then they will get shouted at for clogging up the few facilities we have!


  4. ““Well, the good news is that he didn’t have pancreatic cancer.” … “But, Doc, he’s dead.” … “Yeah, that happens a lot. We’re starting to think it might be the wrong type of drill.” ”

    Heh, yeah, I think the term was “exploratory surgery.” At least (or “At least I hope…”) CT scans and the like have knocked that particular horror story out of the ballpark for most of us. After a bicycle accident caused a severe internal dissection of my right subclavian artery about fifteen years ago I went in for an angiography to diagnose why I was walking cheerfully around town for a week or two with no pulse. The angiographer was all set to calm me down and soothe my fears of the procedure and help me pretend that it wasn’t happening… but all I wanted to do was make sure I could see the screen and get a moment-by-moment description of everything that was being seen! We live in a magical age when we can see all sorts of thing inside our bodies without getting cut open to the sky!

    Heh, of course I also got the see the color drain out of her face as we watched this humongous blood clot pulsating in the intersection between my heart, shoulder, and brain arteries with every beat. I remember looking at her and saying, “That doesn’t look real good, does it?” And she said, “Could you lie here very still while I go get the surgeon?” Twenty minutes later I was being wheeled into surgery.

    Fortunately all worked out well and I’ve stuck around to be a thorn in the sides of the Antis ever since.

    But it IS amazing: we live in the world of Star Trek! (not to mention, also the world of the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy with our iPads and iPhones and Google!)



    • Yep, they can poke your insides from the outside now.

      At my age I am fortunate that I have not yet experienced ‘camera up the arse’. By the time my turn comes around I hope they have developed very small cameras indeed.

      A friend who had that done said he was asked if he wanted a copy of the video. ‘They video it,’ he said.

      We wondered if they complied ‘best of’ DVDs and played them
      at arse-doctor parties.

      I don’t want to go to those parties.


      • I’ve got a “camera down” procedure next Monday…apparently it’s not the camera, but the lighting crew and sound engineer going in that is uncomfortable..


  5. Leggy old son, I think you’re getting a bit er..well straying into git territory on this one.

    My wife had been going to the Docs for about 2 years complaining of severe headaches, only to be told to “Take some Paracetamol”. Then one day, she suffered what I thought to be a minor stroke. I took her down the Doctors, and went in with her saying “Look, something isn’t right here, so don’t be fucking her off with instructions to take Paracetamol”.

    “Am I sure?” asked the useless fucking idiot behind the desk, “No” I replied “It’s just that I’ve nothing better to do with my time than sit around the waiting room, wasting both my time and yours”.

    “Oh I see” she says, “”Get yourself up the hospital now, and give them this, it’s an appointment straight away for a scan”.

    Several hours later, a scan is done and they find a tumour on her brain the size of a duck egg, and a few days later, she’s up in Leeds general having it excised.

    About a week later, after the biopsy, she’s told that “I’m sorry, but it’s terminal, you have a type 4 (Whatever it was). Doc gets up and leaves the wife with a councillor, so I follow him out and ask “So whats the prognosis then?”. He says “Usually about 9 to 18 mths, but it’s hard to say”. This was about 27 mths ago, and she’s still doing well.

    This isn’t a thing about Doctors needing x-ray eyes, but when patients continually turn up with symptoms of headaches (Or wherever), a cursory examination to ascertain the possible cause(s) and not a default position of “Well take some Para-fucking-cetamol” is perhaps a step in the right direction.


    • Eight or ten visits with the same symptoms and the doc is still fobbing you off, the doc is a moron. If someone has persistent sypmtoms and isnlt getting better, a sensible doc would refer them up the line, but they are trained to think they are God now. Lifestyle is all. They know little to nothing of biology any more.

      A medic once told me that I might be lactose intolerant because I had the squits after eating an awful lot of cheese on toast. There is not much lactose in cheese. It’s been fermented into lactic acid.

      I started ‘There isn’t much lactose in cheese…’ only to be countered with ‘Don’t be silly. It’s made of milk’. It’s been a long time since I persisted in discussions with idiots so I gave up.

      I know PhDs who believe that nonsmokers with Electrofags will inevitably become smokers. Arguments such as ‘so that means vegetarian sausages will turn veggies into meat eaters’ or ‘dildos will turn lesbians straight’ cut no ice, even though they are all the same argument. You can educate someone all you want but you cannot educate out gullibility.

      There are some good doctors still but increasingly, the NHS is selecting for those who toe the ‘lifestyle’ line. If you look fit and healthy then you are fit and healthy. If you are not following guidelines then they must pull out all the stops to find something wrong with you in order to support the NHS mantra that only by living as directed can you be alive at all.

      What I did in that post was take the alternative point of view. The doctor’s view, based on what he/she is being taught these days. Also, they do see an awful lot of hypochondriacs. Sorting out real patients from the mass of malingerers cannot be easy.

      Especially when they are being taught that all diseases are now caused by lifetyle.


  6. My dad had cancer, got it after he gave up smoking. It took them years to figure out what was wrong with him (it wasn’t lung). He actually got the all clear after all the treatment in the big, new, shiny Chelsea and Westminster hospital. Unfortunately MRSA got him before they would let him out.

    About 2 years ago, I woke up with a frozen shoulder. Agony! Went to the docs who said it would take a year to mend, I might need an operation, gave me a prescription for very strong painkillers, a letter for an x-ray and would I do him a favour and give up smoking. “No thank you”, I said through gritted teeth and teary eyes.

    So I made an appointment with an osteopath, built like the Thing from the Fantastic Four, a martial arts expert. He said to use a bag of frozen peas to numb the pain, gave me some gentle exercise and suggested my husband rub arnica oil on my shoulder and arm daily. He manipulated my neck, shoulders and back of course. It did cost me £200 to go see him once a week for two months. By the time my x-ray appointment came through I could move my shoulder freely. It was awesome!

    I am not giving up smoking.


    • My friend’s father had lung cancer. Fortunately he had one of the old Indian doctors who still took their job seriously.

      He had no chest symptoms. He turned up at the doctors because his fingernails had been curling inwards as they grew and it made them hard to cut. That doctor took one look and sent him for a chest X-ray at once. Curling-in fingernails used to be a strong sign of lung cancer, back when the medics actually took a whole-body view.

      He survived after surgery, is still alive and still refusing to take any medication.

      Oh, and he had given up smoking many years earlier too.


      • Clubbed nails are a definite warning sign for lung cancer though I don’t now if modern doctors are aware of it, sometimes the only sign. I wasn’t a symptom I had but on the LC forum it is quite common. I haven’t had any further treatment either, sometimes seems it is worse than the cancer so for now I am taking the view that they removed the tumour and my immune system which is fine now will take care of any rogue cells.


  7. If I were a quack anyone who repeatedly presented with the same set of symptoms would certainly demand more than a fob-off.

    I think the risks of “naming and shaming” are it will generate a “defensive” type of practice.

    Got a fractured toenail or dislocated eyelash?..Off for a full body scan you go…and let’s have a brain biopsy to be sure….Oh, while you’re here would you please bend over and take a deep breath in….

    I am quite sure I heard somewhere that many many cancers are found INCIDENTALLY when performing other tests…The “Oohh, wots dat”? disease…

    I may be wrong of course.

    I think that doctors are taught generic signs and symptoms and conditions attached. Humans though, being awkward gits that they are, often can present very atypically and they progress until the cancer is impossible to miss.

    I seem to recall hearing about a nasty stomach tumour that presented with symptoms about ten days before the guy shuffled the coil….

    Another was a late middle age woman who had an enormous kidney cancer which had absolutely no symptoms whatsoever…none….I think the doctor only asked for a scan to see how much damage she had done to her liver from her “wee nip” in the evenings….I think the scan technician said….”liver’s fine. What the fuck is that though”????


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