GutterEditor: Roger Simon summed up the Clarence Thomas...


October 29, 1991


Editor: Roger Simon summed up the Clarence Thomas hearings in his Oct. 14 column: ''Yet, today, in a committee of this august body, assembled to explore the confirmation of a person to the most respected court in the land, the debate hails not from on high but from the gutter.''

Betty D. Edlavitch.


Medevac Costs

Editor: Del. Virginia Thomas says she couldn't believe that the state doesn't charge a nickel to transport accident victims by helicopter. She is correct in her quote, ''There's no such thing as a free lunch -- and no such thing as a free helicopter ride.'' However, she is way off base when she says, ''We should be charging something.''

As I see it, one function of government is to provide for the safety and well-being of the people. The people, in turn, support the government and pay for the services provided through various and many taxes.

''We'' are charging something and ''we'' are paying something, and for those of us who are less fortunate and underprivileged, ''we'' are providing a ''free'' lunch. Who else is going to pay for the services we require?

It is a simple matter for some legislators to pass the cost of Medevac off to the insurance companies, who, in turn, will raise premiums. In essence, instead of taking the money out of our right hand pocket and giving it to the state comptroller, we will take it out of our left hand pocket and give it to an insurance provider after they factor in their profit margin. Has anyone ever questioned how much insurance company stock our collective legislature holds?

Surely, ''we'' are paying enough money to have quality elected officials, who should be capable of trimming waste without sacrificing the services for which ''we'' are willing to pay.

Richard J. Byrne.


Cancer Test

Editor: I am writing to thank your newspaper for quite possibly saving my life and to further spread the word about a life-saving test for prostate cancer. Dr. Peter Beilenson's letter (Oct. 16) contributed to public awareness of the need for greater efforts toward prevention and early detection of cancer. However, his mention of only rectal examinations for early detection of prostate cancer represented a serious omission.

Prostate cancer is relatively common in men over 45 or 50 years of age, and increasingly so at more advanced ages. Affliction of this gland is the second largest cancer killer of men. Two facts potently combine to cause widespread lethal outcome; in the prostate, cancer usually produces no symptoms until it spreads outside the gland itself, and once it spreads it is difficult to treat. Longevity is often tragically curtailed. Yet, when discovered before it spreads, the disease can usually be cured with surgery or radiation.

The rectal examination Dr. Beilenson mentions has been the traditional early detection procedure. It has often successfully discovered the disease in time, but in a substantial number of cases it has not. Fortunately for many, a new, more effective (though not always accurate) test detects this potential killer in its early stages.

The PSA (prostate-specific antigen) procedure is a simple blood test, which has quickly come into wide use. In a review of medical progress focusing on diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer, the New England Journal of Medicine (Jan. 24) called prostate-specific antigen ''the most sensitive marker of prostate cancer.'' Experienced urologists recommend that men over 45 or 50 undergo both the PSA and the rectal test regularly. Inconclusive but definitely cause for alarm when positive, these tests are indications that more conclusive diagnostic procedures are called for.

In my own case, a rectal exam did not indicate cancer, but having read an article in The Sun about the PSA, I asked my doctor for the test. He readily agreed, the result was positive, and a biopsy confirmed it. For me, thanks to early detection, surgery can provide a cure.

Richard G. Berman.


Recycle the Pols

Editor: Since re-cycling has become such a priority, could it be applied to the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee?

Louise T. Goldman.


Let Him Speak

Editor: In response to Joseph C. Matassa's Oct. 18 letter, I think Sen. Edward Kennedy's personal problems have no bearing on his obligation to perform his duties in the U.S. Senate. He had every right to be sitting with the Judiciary Committee during the Thomas/Hill hearings. He was one of the few senators with enough guts to speak up forcefully in defense of Anita Hill. It's unfortunate he didn't say more.

Regina K. Woloszyn.


Misery Hits Montgomery County

Editor: We agree with some of the analysis contained in your Oct. 15 editorial, ''Painful Budget Cuts.'' But our reaction ranged from dismay to outrage at your references to ''squeals'' from the ''richest counties.''

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