After prostate cancer treatment: What about intimacy for men? I had just started the sexual health clinic at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) when I was approached to meet with a group of prostate cancer survivors. I was hesitant at first -- my interests were in female cancer survivors who had experienced sexual dysfunction. This was partly because I had assumed men had an easier time accessing information on ...

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Trivializing the significance of losing one’s hair during cancer treatment Even after so many years, I take the process of starting someone on anticancer treatment very seriously. The drugs we use can cause damage, and that damage can persist long after the end of the last planned treatment. Platinum salts can cause neuro- and nephrotoxicity. Taxanes can cause neuropathy. Angiogenesis inhibitors can result in hypertension. The lists of potential ...

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What does a good death mean to you? In July 1991, I was beginning my first year of medical school in Rochester, New York. I was filled with excitement and anxiety on beginning a journey in medicine as I started on the road to becoming a doctor. At that time, Rochester was in the national spotlight because of the actions of one of our faculty members, Timothy Quill. ...

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When patients seek a second opinion: Its not about you I remember when I first started in oncology; I had joined the faculty at Brown three years after fellowship and was seeing a patient* with newly diagnosed breast cancer. She was in her 40s, an advertising executive, married, with two small kids. The diagnosis was unexpected (as it usually is), with a lump found while showering. She had come ...

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Twitter counts for this doctor. Read why. Whenever I speak about social media, much of it has to do with Twitter. It has become part of my daily routine, much like checking email or going to news media sites. I will often check-in on Twitter and will respond to items of interest -- whether or not tweets were sent directly to me. However, I am cognizant ...

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The public perception of oncologists: Is it really true?I had taken care of her for years. We had faced a new diagnosis, the toxicities of adjuvant treatment, the promises of having no evidence of disease (NED as my friend, Molly, refers to it), only to have it shattered with the first recurrence. Over the next three years, she had undergone treatment -- chemotherapy, a trial of endocrine therapy, ...

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Two women, two cancers, two different pathwaysI sometimes wonder what I would do if I was told I had cancer. How much would I subject myself to in order to survive, or to achieve remission? As a parent, I can answer only that I would likely go through hell and back if it meant being there for my kids -- to watch them grow up, graduate ...

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Delivering bad news: Dont pass the buckWhen I was a fellow, part of our training involved doing consults for patients, most of whom had just learned they had cancer or recurrence of disease. These consults were never easy, but the importance of sitting with someone who had just learned of their diagnosis was an integral part of learning the medicine and art of oncology. Even after many ...

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Cancer screening in those with metastatic disease“Your cancer has come back.” These are words no one treated for cancer wants to hear, yet they are words I have said far too often in my own career. In this case, I had said this to a patient I had cared for ever since her initial diagnosis. At that time, she had stage III breast cancer. After her surgery, ...

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Cancer care for international patientsThe world is a big place and here in the U.S., we are fortunate to live in a part of it where we have access to technology and advanced medical care, clinical trials, and new therapies, even before they are approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Indeed, even new agents approved for one indication can be prescribed off-label in ...

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