Crusade Against Colon Cancer
Kudos for your calm and conversational article [COLON CANCER, March 13]. It should nudge many readers into talking to their physicians about colon-cancer testing. And more kudos to Katie Couric for her willingness to describe what she experienced during her colonoscopy, reinforcing TIME's statement that "most people find the idea worse than the exam." PAUL GAERTNER JR. Athens, Ga.
Scientific data show that as many as 90% of colorectal cancers can be prevented when polyps found by screening techniques are removed. In this way, cancer is stopped before it begins. I believe that the knowledge that screening can prevent this deadly cancer from ever getting a start is a more powerful motivator than the hope that it might be found early enough to be curable. This different, even more optimistic view ought to be shared with your readers. ERNESTINE HAMBRICK, M.D. Founder and Chairman STOP Colon/Rectal Cancer Foundation Chicago
A colonoscopy is not innocuous. It can be complicated by severe intestinal bleeding, rupture of the bowel and, in rare instances, death. Colonoscopes are difficult to clean, and transmission of infection from one individual to another is well documented. Society as a whole suffers not only from the huge financial burden of an extensive screening program but also from an ever increasing obsession with health, which, paradoxically, decreases our sense of wellness. KENNETH G. MARSHALL, M.D. Stratford, Ont.
While many people may have found Couric's crusade against colon cancer and her televised colon exam distasteful, I give her a lot of credit for spreading the word. Early detection allows the doctor and patient to work together to gain control over the suffering caused by such illnesses. This campaign may make some fidget with discomfort, but that's nothing compared with the effects of a diseased colon left untreated. LISA TANER Belmont, Calif.
Although I salute Couric for her efforts to increase awareness about colon cancer, I am concerned about what happens when famous people crusade for health-care issues. The main problem is that it allows emotions and politics to override science. We have seen this before. Nonscientific factors greatly influenced recommendations for mammography screening for women ages 40 to 50. And the PSA test for prostate cancer, still lacking in scientific data for appropriate use, has received unequivocal endorsement from athletes and actors. We need to have science, not the media or celebrities, establish the rules. GREGORY L. SHEEHY, M.D. Middleton, Wis.
E Is for Ecstasy
Your story on the popularity of the drug ecstasy included a photograph of a woman dancing [DRUGS, March 13]. I am that woman. Although the caption says ecstasy can keep kids dancing all night, I was not on any kind of drug. I went to the club to enjoy amazing music spun by some incredible djs. I was there to dance, not to do drugs. And I danced all night on the high of adrenaline and great music, not ecstasy. The rave scene was initially all about the music, but in the past few years, it has been flooded with kids just interested in ecstasy and whatever else they can get their hands on. There are, however, those of us who still go to clubs and parties in order to enjoy the vibe, not the chemicals. MARIGOLD GERSTEIN Falls Church, Va.