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My e-mail to the NCI – 2nd Update

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on August 14, 2009

I recently send an e-mail to the NCI criticizing them about their apparent support of acupuncture as a viable alternative for cancer patients. I  received a reply which I reported on here. After sending a second e-mail I received a second reply, this one quite a bit more satisfactory (assuming, and I am willing at this juncture to extend the benefit of the doubt to “staff”, that whatever they are claiming in the e-mail is true).

This message is in response to the latest e-mail you sent to the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Web site, http://www.cancer.gov, regarding information about acupuncture on our Web site.  Please note that, as requested, both of your e-mails were forwarded to the NCI’s Office of the Director (OD) for review and consideration.  After consulting with OD staff, it was decided to refer this matter to the Physician Data Query (PDQ(r)) Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) Editorial Board, which is responsible for maintaining both the patient and health professional versions of the acupuncture summary.  Therefore, we contacted the Editor-in-Chief of the CAM Editorial Board, who decided that the Board will discuss your e-mails and your concerns at its next meeting.

Please note further that the PDQ CAM Editorial Board and the other five PDQ Editorial Boards are independent groups of experts that evaluate the published results of cancer research conducted around the world and assess the strength of the evidence regarding specific cancer-related interventions.  The results of those evaluations are incorporated into the PDQ cancer information summaries, which are made available to health professionals, patients, and the general public as a service of NCI.  The PDQ Editorial Boards are not formal advisory or policy-making boards for NCI, and the Institute does not mandate that they take a specific position on any issue.  However, NCI does seek to ensure the accuracy of the information included in the PDQ summaries.  Toward that end, PDQ information summaries are reviewed regularly by members of larger advisory boards that support each PDQ Editorial Board.  To learn more about PDQ, please visit http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/cancerdatabase on the Internet.

We appreciate the time you have taken to share your thoughts and concerns with us, and we appreciate your interest in NCI and its information products.

I am temporarily satisfied with this, but needless to say, now my next interest is to somehow ensure that this issue will be discussed and to learn what the resolution, or response, is. But, since it appears they are willing to hear me out, there was no point to keep hounding them. We gotta be reasonable right? So my next e-mail was only this:

Dear NCI Staff,

Thank you very much for your follow up. I am glad to hear that the concerns I raised will be discussed at the next PDQ CAM Editorial Board meeting. At this point my last question woud be how would I go about learning the decisions taken during this meetig in regards to this issue? Is there a website I can visit? Is this information public?

Anyone has any insider info about the NCI and this CAM Editorial Board and how I can get info about this upcoming meeting and its decisions, by all means leave something on the comments or e-mail me. Thank you.

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