DAVID GOLDFARB, THE RUSSIAN GENETICIST, in the United States less than a month, has already experienced what U.S. medical science can do. A cancerous part of his lung was removed last week in an operation that probably will prolong his life and may save it.

His son Alex marveled over the drastic surgery and exulted over how the elderly Mr. Goldfarb's U.S. doctors had taken less than a week to discover that he had cancer. The Russian doctors had not even noticed it after he became seriously ill in the Soviet Union, the younger Mr. Goldfarb said.This contrast says something about the relative efficacy of the Soviet Union's free" medical care and U.S. care, which often costs people dearly.

Drastic surgery can work wonders in business, too, as many U.S. and foreign companies have demonstrated. Many a sick company has been brought back to health by lopping off obsolete plants and excess workers. Navistar, the former International Harvester Co., and USX Corp., the former United States Steel Corp., come to mind.

Even relatively healthy companies like General Motors Corp., Eastman Kodak Corp. and International Business Machines Corp. are streamlining.

State-owned or state-run companies here and abroad are also cutting their operations, either before or after being sold to the public. Consolidated Rail Corp., or Conrail, the big Northeast freight railroad that is on the auction block, is an example.

Around the world, even in the Soviet Union, governments, enterprises, workers and in some cases organized labor are seeing how drastic surgery can prolong or save industries and jobs.

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