asco-logo Most times, I feel excited to be an oncologist. Oncology research is accelerating and every week brings more news, whether it be a deeper understanding of tumor genomics, a broader understanding of cancer genetics and risk, and, it seems, more ways to provide precision therapy. Studies are coming out showing gains in survival in many different cancers, and ...

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asco-logo The phone rang in my office one morning last week. Woman: “I received a notice of an appointment with you, and it says to bring my partner or spouse with me. This problem has nothing to do with him.” (The opening statement could just as easily be from a man, and often is.) I quickly looked up her notes in the electronic medical record ...

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It's a typical chaotic day on the hospital's hematology and oncology floor. I'm sitting in a side room with one of my fellow medical students, doing paperwork and making follow-up calls for our medical team. That's when the music starts. The sounds of two guitars, a tambourine, and a few maracas drift down the hallway. I can't make out how many people are singing, but the happy voices and the song's ...

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Autonomous dissection by the internet. We all do it, but is taking an online medical selfie really a good thing? Disease, prognosis, and treatment explained in exquisite, exhaustive, confused, nonspecific and erroneous detail, which often yields the wrong diagnosis, recommendations for irrelevant therapy and wildly inaccurate conclusions, resulting in confusion and fear. Given this common reality, should patients avoid computer self-investigation entirely and leave e-research to the “professionals?” The bad Patients, left ...

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Sometimes, I think that that guiding principal of the medical profession, “first, do no harm,” is hopelessly out-of-date. Clearly, a physician should understand her limits, and never should she give care, which hurts, more than helps. Nonetheless, this axiom implies that the doctor is in control, and decides the treatment. Some of the time, a modern motto, which recognizes the true position and limits of the modern doc, might be, ...

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If someone had told me even ten years ago that I would retire young and become an itinerant radiation oncologist, I would have thought he had lost his mind.  As the career medical director of community-based cancer centers, I was used to running the show.  And as the saying goes, I ran a “tight ship.”  Consultations were performed and documented in a timely fashion, day of the request if the ...

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My husband, Mark, called me at my practice. “I’ve been working on something; I need you to come home now.” He spoke definitively, urgently. “Is it the kids?” I was instinctively anxious. “No, not the kids, just come home now.” 6 p.m., a cool evening, an ordinary day. The life before the fact. And then life afterward, irrevocably and catastrophically changed. A tense ride home, then the revelation. “I've been having difficulty ...

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Props to Elana Miller at Zen Psychiatry.  Truly inspiring.

In his last state of the union address, President Obama reinvigorated the nation’s interest in a long-sidelined disease/s: cancer. A call for a moonshot was announced, and the president in his address said, “I’m putting Joe in charge of mission control.” The last time such a national commitment towards this illness was announced was by the efforts of a cancer advocate, Mary Lasker. She advocated fiercely, and the National Cancer Act ...

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Test your medicine knowledge with the MKSAP challenge, in partnership with the American College of Physicians. A 68-year-old woman undergoes upper endoscopy for evaluation of dyspepsia. She has a history of pernicious anemia. She has no other medical problems and her only medication is oral vitamin B12. On physical examination, vital signs are normal, as is the remainder of the physical examination. Upper endoscopy discloses a 6-mm polyp in the ...

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