Rudy Knows Cancer
American facts.


Michael Tanner

Former New York City mayor and Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani is being attacked for a radio ad in which he claims that his chances of surviving prostate cancer are much better under the U.S. health-care system than under socialized systems such as that of Great Britain. Rudy himself is a prostate-cancer survivor, and while one can quibble about the details, his key point is correct.

According to Giuliani, 18 percent of American men diagnosed with prostate cancer will die from the disease, while 56 percent of British men will. And Rudy blames that on the rationing inherent in the British model of health care. Those numbers are accurate. They come from official data released by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, by way of a study by the liberal Commonwealth Fund, not — as critics darkly hint — from a right-wing think tank (although Rudy apparently saw them in an article by Manhattan Institute scholar David Gratzer).

It is fair to note, however, that the numbers are somewhat dated. More recent information shows an improved British performance. The five-year survival rate for prostate cancer in the U.K. is 74 percent. Of course, it is 98 percent in the U.S.