I began one of my medical oncology rotations alongside my co-resident: an MD/PhD, fast-track (pre-matched into fellowship) future oncologist. Among my three interns that rotation, two were “Harvard kids.” Needless to say, I was intimidated. My colleague and counterpart not only had the entire catalogue of genomic alterations at the tip of his tongue, he knew and understood their implications on disease. I saw my intern having a long conversation ...

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As rheumatologists, we pride ourselves on spending time with our patients, listening to their problems and their family’s problems, and answering all of their questions. Whenever my husband and I run into a patient of mine on the street, they always tell him that I am the best doctor ever. In spite of these accolades, I realized recently I was guilty of doing something with a handful of my patients ...

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The term “big data” is a favorite mantra of health care today. Big data sets are starting to drive much of what is done in medicine including directing research, drug development, clinical pathways, insurance coverage and public opinion. The official definition of “big data” in health care is subject to interpretation by different sources. One dictionary defines big data as “data of a very large size, typically to the extent ...

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It was several years ago. I was a first-year internal medicine resident. Keen, tired, overworked, and still idealistic. Mr. Smith was a 45-year-old lawyer who rolled into St. Paul’s Hospital Emergency room, while our medicine team was on intake. He was a healthy appearing lawyer who noted that for the past month he had become more short of breath performing his regular exercise. Things were especially bad for him during ...

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The day I met Mr. Lightfoot, he was a medical curiosity on teaching rounds, “a great example of a Sister Mary Joseph’s Nodule,” a sign of metastatic stomach cancer. Earl was lying in a hospital bed in the cancer unit of the hospital, his stomach completely distended, nauseous and vomiting, unable to eat anything. He had undergone a cycle of chemotherapy only days before. I organized Mr. Lightfoot into a problem ...

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Mom. She was a feisty 100 percent Italian, straight from New Jersey. Her dad, straight from Italy, was a tailor and made the finest suits for New York and New Jersey businessmen. Mom learned this trade well. She could sew some of the most beautiful tailored suits for herself. She loved to cook and every night was a banquet, a feast which required up to 2 hours of clean-up time ...

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Smoking and drinking caused the cancer, which Ed ignored for a long time. By the time a doctor looked at the hole in his neck, the mass had congealed the base of the tongue to the right side of the jaw and burst through the skin. A steady drip of pink tinged, foul saliva ran down the side of Ed’s neck. Ed, not being able to chew for months, was ...

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asco-logo I am sensitive to language and the way we use it in health care; as the editor of the Oncology Nursing Society’s premier research journal, the Oncology Nursing Forum, and as a sexuality counselor, words are my business and the tools I use to educate, inform, and disseminate knowledge. The conversation typically goes like this: Me: “Hello, can I speak with Mr./Ms. X ...

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Behind every door in my clinic, is human suffering.  It hangs like a mist; I can see the living ghosts of my patients through it. As an oncologist who treats primarily pancreatic cancer, many of my patients will be dead within a year of our first meeting.  I knew this would be the case when I chose my specialty. Pancreas cancer is one of the last frontiers in cancer therapeutics:  a ...

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In July 2016, the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) published updated skin cancer screening guidelines in JAMA, concluding “current evidence is insufficient” to screen for skin cancer in adults. The guidelines were formulated on a literature review of studies conducted in asymptomatic patients 15 years and older at general risk for skin cancer from 1995-2015; after identifying nearly 13,000 articles spanning two decades of work worldwide, the authors selected ...

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