Fait Divers: “Rare Cancer Seen in 100,000 People A Year”

THIS JUST IN! (July 3, 1981):

“Doctors in New York and California have diagnosed among homosexual men 41 cases of a rare and often rapidly fatal form of cancer. Eight of the victims died less than 24 months after the diagnosis was made.
The cause of the outbreak is unknown, and there is as yet no evidence of contagion. But the doctors who have made the diagnoses, mostly in New York City and the San Francisco Bay area, are alerting other physicians who treat large numbers of homosexual men to the problem in an effort to help identify more cases and to reduce the delay in offering chemotherapy treatment.
The sudden appearance of the cancer, called Kaposi’s Sarcoma, has prompted a medical investigation that experts say could have as much scientific as public health importance because of what it may teach about determining the causes of more common types of cancer.
First Appears in Spots
Doctors have been taught in the past that the cancer usually appeared first in spots on the legs and that the disease took a slow course of up to 10 years. But these recent cases have shown that it appears in one or more violet-colored spots anywhere on the body.
The spots generally do not itch or cause other symptoms, often can be mistaken for bruises, sometimes appear as lumps and can turn brown after a period of time. The cancer often causes swollen lymph glands, and then kills by spreading throughout the body.
Doctors investigating the outbreak believe that many cases have gone undetected because of the rarity of the condition and the difficulty even dermatologists may have in diagnosing it.
In a letter alerting other physicians to the problem, Dr. Alvin E. Friedman- Kien of New York University Medical Center, one of the investigators, described the appearance of the outbreak as “rather devastating.”
Dr. Friedman-Kien said in an interview yesterday that he knew of 41 cases collated in the last five weeks, with the cases themselves dating to the past 30 months. The Federal Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta is expected to publish the first description of the outbreak in its weekly report today, according to a spokesman, Dr. James Curran. The report notes 26 of the cases – 20 in New York and six in California.
There is no national registry of cancer victims, but the nationwide incidence of Kaposi’s Sarcoma in the past had been estimated by the Centers for Disease Control to be less than six-one-hundredths of a case per 100,000 people annually, or about two cases in every three million people. However, the disease accounts for up to 9 percent of all cancers in a belt across equatorial Africa, where it commonly affects children and young adults.
In the United States, it has primarily affected men older than 50 years. But in the recent cases, doctors at nine medical centers in New York and seven hospitals in California have been diagnosing the condition among younger men, all of whom said in the course of standard diagnostic interviews that they were homosexual. Although the ages of the patients have ranged from 26 to 51 years, many have been under 40, with the mean at 39.
Nine of the 41 cases known to Dr. Friedman-Kien were diagnosed in California, and several of those victims reported that they had been in New York in the period preceding the diagnosis. Dr. Friedman-Kien said that his colleagues were checking on reports of two victims diagnosed in Copenhagen, one of whom had visited New York.
Viral Infections Indicated
No one medical investigator has yet interviewed all the victims, Dr. Curran said. According to Dr. Friedman-Kien, the reporting doctors said that most cases had involved homosexual men who have had multiple and frequent sexual encounters with different partners, as many as 10 sexual encounters each night up to four times a week.
Many of the patients have also been treated for viral infections such as herpes, cytomegalovirus and hepatitis B as well as parasitic infections such as amebiasis and giardiasis. Many patients also reported that they had used drugs such as amyl nitrite and LSD to heighten sexual pleasure.
Cancer is not believed to be contagious, but conditions that might precipitate it, such as particular viruses or environmental factors, might account for an outbreak among a single group.
The medical investigators say some indirect evidence actually points away from contagion as a cause. None of the patients knew each other, although the theoretical possibility that some may have had sexual contact with a person with Kaposi’s Sarcoma at some point in the past could not be excluded, Dr. Friedman-Kien said.
Dr. Curran said there was no apparent danger to nonhomosexuals from contagion. “The best evidence against contagion,” he said, “is that no cases have been reported to date outside the homosexual community or in women.”
Dr. Friedman-Kien said he had tested nine of the victims and found severe defects in their immunological systems. The patients had serious malfunctions of two types of cells called T and B cell lymphocytes, which have important roles in fighting infections and cancer.
But Dr. Friedman-Kien emphasized that the researchers did not know whether the immunological defects were the underlying problem or had developed secondarily to the infections or drug use.
The research team is testing various hypotheses, one of which is a possible link between past infection with cytomegalovirus and development of Kaposi’s Sarcoma.”

Surely you saw the movie.

or maybe even THIS MOVIE

The directors of each are now dead. And guess what they died of.
Just like Richard Rouilard and Michael Callen and Craig Lee and Luther Whittington and Warren Sonbert and

Of course Larry Kramer is still with us, and
Edmund White and Ron Athey and Joe Drexel (last time I looked.) I even hear Tom Chomont still resides among carbon-based life forms.

Of course a lot has happened since the disease was first identified. There’s a treatment known as the “cocktail.” It’s not “the cure.” But everyone acts as if it is. In fact, huge numbers of people have forgotten all about AIDS.
But as this report in The Lancet shows AIDS hasn’t forgotten about us.

“Last week, at a press conference at the UN High-Level Meeting on AIDS in New York, Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), said that the number of new HIV infections per year in the USA was closer to 50000 than 40000. He told reporters: “In the United States we still have a significant problem…we have over 750000 AIDS cases…and over half a million deaths. The very disturbing aspect of the situation in the United States is that we have about 40 to 52000 new infections each year.” He said that this level of new infections had stayed the same for the past 14 years and that the USA had hit a wall in not being able to get any lower.
Fauci’s statements, reported by Reuters have caused uproar, because the 52000 figure he refers to has not yet been publicly released. AIDS campaigners have been calling for the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to release the latest (2005) data for HIV incidence since last year. On Nov 26, 2007, the CDC issued a letter to advocacy groups, which stated that the information would be released in the “coming months”. The letter also stated that the data had been submitted to an academic journal for peer review and that the CDC anticipates publishing the new data in early 2008. Yet, as The Lancet went to press, nothing had been released.
What is more, when we contacted the NIAID and CDC, both said that Fauci had been talking about published data on the number of people diagnosed with HIV in 2006 but not necessarily infected that year. However, as the UN’s webcast of the press conference shows, Fauci does not talk about diagnoses but new infections. He says that 52000 is a new number that will soon become an official statistic. He explains that the number does not mean that HIV incidence has increased but that new methodology being used by the CDC is producing a more accurate estimate.
Either way, the figure shows that US efforts to prevent HIV have failed dismally. The CDC must not fail US citizens further by delaying the release of the data behind this fact.”

In other words, not only is it not “over” as Patient Less Than Zero insisted some years back, IT HASN’T STABILIZED AND MAY NOT HAVE EVEN PEAKED!!!!!!

I think John Cale put it best.

“Standing waiting for a man to show
Wide eyed one eye fixed on the door
This waiting’s killing me, it’s wearing me down
Day in day out, my feet are burning holes in the ground

Darkness warmer than a bedroom floor
Want someone to hold me close forever more
I’m a sleeping dog, but you can’t tell
When I’m on the prowl you’ld better run like hell
You know it makes sense, don’t even think about it
Life and death are just things you do when you’re bored
Say fear’s a man’s best friend
You add it up it brings you down

Home is living like a man on the run
Trails leading nowhere, where to my son?
We’re already dead, just not yet in the ground
Take my helping hand I’ll show you around
You know it makes sense, don’t even think about it
Life and death are just things you do when you’re bored
Say fear’s a man’s best friend
You add it up it brings you down
Say fear’s a man’s best friend
Say fear’s a man’s best friend
Say fear’s a man’s best friend
Say fear’s a man’s best friend”

(P.S. Mad Props to Petrelis for pointing the Lancet piece out.)

2 Comments

  1. Gary M June 29, 2008 2:33 am 

    NIce post.

    Stop it, please, you’re making us emotional. Where’s that gay jaunty uplift? Nowhere–no complex sugars in DE’s work. It’s all protein and well, roughage too. I liked your one day swing through the Swamp and figured I’d try it myself but ‘wisely’ (ha, ha) held off. There was another TFS attack, unrelated to anything you’d posted there. There have to be other common grounds for fanciers of what David writes (I figure that term will please Dmac and Mike K, who feel that anyone who reads your stuff is obsequiously fawning over every comma, like so:,

    I looked over at ‘rico, then over at Dennis Cooper. (I’m trying to locate you on the live Internet; we’re not exactly entering “Death In Venice” territory here). Our friend LYT got a press prize and we threw some cyber-confetti.

    Dennis Cooper’s good, you’ve been right about him. He switched my tracks on me. The stuff about Robbe-Grillets death and the recent passing of Cyd Charisse had me telling our skeptical 19 year old son that he might be bearing a curse–anyone who met him at the film festival when he was a toddler, who was also 60 or older at the time, is now having serious mortality issues. He swears it’s not his fault and I’m inclined to believe him.

    Have you noticed David Chute at the edges of the Swamp? Intriguing. I really don’t have the slightest idea how he found his way there.

  2. David E June 29, 2008 7:35 am 

    Sorry, but I can’t do “jaunty gay uplift” at will — especially with infection rates being what they are. It’s “That 80′s Show.”

    Chute has visited the Swamp in the past. Don’t run into him as frequently as I used to in the old days (see pic in “Bride of Ehrensteinland.”)

    Dennis is a very close friend and I actively contriubute “DC’s” on a fairly regular basis (eg. “Irving Rosenthal Day.”) He had become a friend of Robbe-Grillet’s in what turned out to be his last years, and has worked frequently with his wife, Catherine (aka. “Jean de Berg.”)

    When something interests me at the Swamp and/or Patterico’s I’ll make a post.

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