Cavuto failed to challenge Giuliani's "meaningless" statistics on prostate cancer

››› ››› JEREMY HOLDEN

During an interview with Rudy Giuliani, Fox News' Neil Cavuto did not challenge Giuliani's assertion that "[t]he chance of a man surviving prostate cancer in the United States is somewhere, when I was doing it, 82, 84 percent. It's probably over 90 percent now. In socialized medicine countries ... some of them can be less than 50 percent." However, the purported source for the statistics, the Commonwealth Fund, issued a statement saying that the numbers are "incorrect."

During the October 30 edition of Fox News' Your World, Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani asserted that "[t]he chance of a man surviving prostate cancer in the United States is somewhere, when I was doing it, 82, 84 percent. It's probably over 90 percent now. In socialized medicine countries ... some of them can be less than 50 percent" -- a claim similar to the one he makes in a new radio campaign advertisement. Host Neil Cavuto did not challenge Giuliani's statistics, which, as Media Matters for America noted, were characterized as "meaningless" by Howard Parnes, chief of the Prostate and Urologic Cancer Research Group at the National Cancer Institute, according to a washingtonpost.com Fact Checker blog entry posted hours before Cavuto's show.

In the October 30 Fact Checker post, Michael Dobbs noted: "As factual support for the mayor's claim, the Giuliani campaign cited an article that appeared in the 'City Journal,' published by the Manhattan Institute, a conservative New York think tank, slamming the Canadian and British systems of 'socialized' medicine. The article by David Gratzer provides no sources for its assertions about five-year survivability rates from prostate cancer." Dobbs further noted that "the survivability figures tell us little about the differences in the quality of treatment received by prostate cancer patients in the United States and Britain," and that "[a]bout 25 men out of 100,000 are dying from prostate cancer every year in both the U.K. and the U.S." ABCNews.com's Political Radar blog reported, "Through a spokeswoman, Gratzer said he was relying on data compiled for a 2000 study by the Commonwealth Fund, a not-for-profit foundation that supports health research."

However, on October 30, the Commonwealth Fund issued a statement calling the "survival statistics in the City Journal article" being "used in speeches and a radio ad by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani" "incorrect" and noting, "In fact, the five-year survival data cited in the City Journal article do not come from The Commonwealth Fund report, and cannot be calculated from that report. What the report, Multinational Comparisons of Health Systems Data, 2000 by Gerard F. Anderson and Peter S. Hussey of Johns Hopkins University, includes are data on prostate cancer incidence and mortality rates in the two countries. Specifically, The Commonwealth Fund report features a chart showing that, in 1997, the incidence of prostate cancer in the U.S. was 136 per 100,000 males and the mortality rate (death rate) was 26 per 100,000 males. By comparison, in the U.K. the prostate cancer incidence was 49 per 100,000 and the death rate was 28 deaths per 100,000. (The prostate cancer incidence rate -- which is the number of men diagnosed with the disease in a given year -- in the U.S. is thought to be higher because prostate cancer screening is much more common in this country.) Five-year survival rates cannot be calculated from incidence and mortality rates, as any good epidemiologist knows."

The October 30 statement from the Commonwealth Fund, in its entirety:

The Summer 2007 issue of City Journal included an article authored by David Gratzer, M.D., that says the U.S. prostate cancer survival rate is 81.2 percent and the U.K. survival rate is 44.3 percent. According to abcnews.com, Gratzer has cited a seven-year-old Commonwealth Fund report as his source for the statistics. In fact, the five-year survival data cited in the City Journal article do not come from The Commonwealth Fund report, and cannot be calculated from that report. What the report, Multinational Comparisons of Health Systems Data, 2000 by Gerard F. Anderson and Peter S. Hussey of Johns Hopkins University, includes are data on prostate cancer incidence and mortality rates in the two countries.

Specifically, The Commonwealth Fund report features a chart showing that, in 1997, the incidence of prostate cancer in the U.S. was 136 per 100,000 males and the mortality rate (death rate) was 26 per 100,000 males. By comparison, in the U.K. the prostate cancer incidence was 49 per 100,000 and the death rate was 28 deaths per 100,000. (The prostate cancer incidence rate -- which is the number of men diagnosed with the disease in a given year -- in the U.S. is thought to be higher because prostate cancer screening is much more common in this country.) Five-year survival rates cannot be calculated from incidence and mortality rates, as any good epidemiologist knows.

The incorrect survival statistics in the City Journal article have since been used in speeches and a radio ad by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. The Commonwealth Fund believes it is important that all presidential candidates have accurate and reliable information.

From the October 30 edition of Fox News' Your World With Neil Cavuto:

CAVUTO: You have an interesting health-care plan, but you're putting yourself out there, and you're kind of reliving your own battle with prostate cancer. Was that a touch-and-go kind of a decision for you?

GIULIANI: No. No. I've written about it. I've talked about it so much. I've given so many lectures on prostate cancer, on cancer. I probably talk to three, four men a month on the telephone about prostate cancer -- sort of, people think of me as connected to that.

Just did yesterday with someone; two days ago, two other people. So, it's something that I'm associated with anyway. So, I don't think I'm surprising anybody about it.

CAVUTO: Now --

GIULIANI: And I've been cured, and I'm very, very lucky. I got wonderful treatment.

But the reality is that my chance of success here in America is just much better than any place else in the world. And I'm very -- I'm very appreciative of that. And I don't want to see us ruin our health care system, the way I believe [Sen.] Hillary Clinton [D-NY] and [Sen.] Barack Obama [D-IL] or [former Sen.] John Edwards [D-NC] want to do with socialized medicine. And make no mistake about it, they want to do socialized medicine.

The chance of a man surviving prostate cancer in the United States is somewhere, when I was doing it, 82, 84 percent. It's probably over 90 percent now. In socialized medicine countries, it's -- some of them can be less than 50 percent, and none of them are like the United States.

CAVUTO: And why is that? Because there's a delay in care?

GIULIANI: And the same thing is true, by the way -- my wife will explain this to you better -- in more detail than I can, because she knows all these statistics -- the same thing is true of women with breast cancer.

The chances of surviving in the United States for a woman much greater than in France, or in England, or in Canada, or in Cuba, where Michael Moore would like us all to go for health care.

CAVUTO: Always a risk, you know, when you bring up your health -- and kudos to you for doing that -- but a lot more people are going to look at your health now again, right? People will say, "Oh, yeah, he had the prostate cancer."

GIULIANI: Well, I've been cured of it. I've had a PSA that's, I think, described as negligible now for six years, seven year. I can't remember how long it is, but it's been a long time.

So, I'm -- and I'm very healthy, thank goodness. I mean, I've got tremendous energy. But I also understand that all of that is more possible -- my success, in essence -- which is mirrored by 80, 90 percent of the other men in America -- has to do a lot with the American health-care system that we have.

And we cannot destroy it in the effort to reform it, which is what the Democrats -- the American people have to understand this. They want to destroy our health care system in order to reform it. A government-controlled health-care system is a health-care system that will dramatically deteriorate.

And, as one person said a while back, when they make health care free, you're going to find out how expensive it really is. And there is -- I mean, they're basically pandering. It's, you know, we're going to have universal health care. It's not going to cost us anything.

Do you know what it's going to cost us? Deteriorated health care. It's going to cost us long waiting lines, like they have in Canada and in England. It's going to cost us lives, because they don't have the results that we have, and not just with cancer, with heart disease and complex heart operations.

What we want to do is create a more private health-care system. We want to encourage -- I want to encourage Americans to go buy their own health insurance. Give them a big tax deduction to do it. Give them a health savings account. Let them create equity in it.

That's the way you cover the people who aren't covered. You drive down the price. We're a consumer market.

CAVUTO: They say, as you know, Mayor, that poorer folks, who don't have the access, the cachet that a Rudy Giuliani does, wouldn't be able to get the treatment you did under this system and would die.

GIULIANI: Well, actually, that's not correct. The poorest people in America are covered. They have Medicaid, Medicare.

The reality is that the people who don't have health insurance in this country are not the poorest. They are people who are consumers. But we're not making health care affordable enough for them. These are people who buy other things.

They may buy televisions. They may buy cars. They may buy cell phones. They're consumers. But the health insurance is either too expensive, or they don't see the value of it. So, how do you solve a problem like that?

You solve the problem like that with a socialist model, a centralized government, or do you solve it with a big consumer market? Of course you solve it in America with a big consumer market.

So, what we need are more people in that market buying their own health insurance. It will drive down the price. And in the same way that you make retail goods and high-tech goods available to poorer people by driving down the price, that's the way you're going to make health care available. And, in that way, you preserve the essential private nature of it.

If 50 million Americans were buying their own health insurance, instead of just 17 million Americans, I guarantee you, the price would go down by 50, 60, 70 percent, and, believe it or not, the quality would go up, because that's what happens as you have a bigger and bigger consumer market.

Posted In
Elections
Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel
Person
Neil Cavuto
Show/Publication
Your World w/ Neil Cavuto
Stories/Interests
Rudy Giuliani, 2008 Elections
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