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Can You Say ‘Metastasize’?

Bill Frist, Senate Majority Leader and kindly heart surgeon, offered his impressions of Iraq and the “global war on terror” on CNN:

    But what we’re seeing here is a metastasizing cancer that is not just in Iraq, it’s throughout the Middle East. […] But it’s like any other cancer, you’ve got to go and you’ve got to cut it out, and if you don’t cut it out, it’s going to continue to metastasize, not just in Iraq, Afghanistan, but indeed all over the world. […] So…you may give a little bit of drugs initially, if you have bad heart disease, but if that doesn’t work, you go in and do an operation. If the operation doesn’t work, you go in and you do a transplant. It doesn’t mean you walk away from the patient and desert the patient while they’re in the intensive care unit. And…if not, that disease is going to metastasize all over the world, including right here in this country.

It sounds like this patient has been on the operating table for a long time already, and the doctor is about as confused as he can be. Is it heart disease? Is it cancer? Should I cut out the offending tissue, or has it metastasized? Should I do a transplant, or just prescribe a few pills? My god, his chest’s open, and he’s on artificial life support, so I can’t just walk away and leave him here. That quadruple bypass didn’t work. Do we have an extra heart handy?

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