Originally created 09/08/01

Barnes defends cancer plan



ATLANTA - Gov. Roy Barnes attempted Friday to calm concerns that his plan to make Georgia a national leader in the fight against cancer could put the state's economic prosperity ahead of its people.

Mr. Barnes assured attendees at the 2001 Cancer Conference in Atlanta that potential research revenue from the Georgia Cancer Coalition won't overshadow efforts to boost cancer prevention and treatment programs.

The Cancer Coalition is a public/private-endorsed effort - led by Mr. Barnes - to develop world-class cancer treatment, research and prevention facilities in Georgia.

"It's very disingenuous to concentrate on the pizzazz of research to the detriment of prevention," said Mr. Barnes, headlining the national conference's closing session on the future of science, public health and cancer.

Plans for the Cancer Coalition include an extensive campaign by the Georgia Research Alliance to attract new researchers and pharmaceutical companies to Georgia.

The governor's earlier remarks at the conference had highlighted the economic benefits the Cancer Coalition could offer the state's economy, through tangibles such as new businesses, and intangibles such as healthier workers and fewer work days lost to cancer.

The repeated talk of monetary advantages didn't sit well with some of the health care workers at the conference.

"We don't want people to get sick so we can cure them. We want them not to get sick," said Margie Harris, a cancer prevention and control advocate from Illinois.

Lois Hill of the Ohio Department of Health said too much focus on research heightens cancer patients' over-reliance on medicine. Ms. Hill said this diminishes funding for preventative procedures, such as mammograms, pap smears and prostate exams - key in early detection of cancer.