JJ Luna

Marc and Jane - cancer registries

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While the concept of a cancer database may seem like the ultimate in privacy invasion, especially when it is accompanied by financial consequences from your local banker... I offer this thought: Cancer registries actually serve a very useful purpose in that they identify cancer "clusters" in a particular region. I would suggest that one get into a habit of misplacing a digit or two in one's SSN whenever possible on medical information forms, and misspell your own name while you're at it, especially if one can figure out which digits to transpose so as to create a unique, non-duplicated SSN that doesn't borrow somebody else's name in the process. But don't balk too much at the concept that one's cancer is recorded in a database somewhere. Here's why: When the health departments look at cancer clusters, you might want to know (or your surviving relatives might want to know) whether you lived in a region that had way more than the "average" number of cases of your very rare cancer. That knowledge could be useful for tracking down the fact that some industry was putting contaminants in the water or air supply in excess of what that industry or the FDA or the EPA knows to be a safe level. While you don't want your *personal* identity known, you still DO want the fact of your existence (if anonymously, then so much the better) known. Trust me on this one - it's the voice of sad experience.
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