Walk in the shoes of a cancer patient We sit, we listen, we attempt to focus and absorb what we are required to know. We learn how to give bad news, even using one another as makeshift “standardized” patients. How does one “standardize” a patient anyway? Who knows, who cares, time to cram for the endocrine exam. But what happens when you stop pretending? When you wake up one morning ...

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Top stories in health and medicine, November 17, 2014From MedPage Today:

  1. Ebola: Signs of Progress, CDC says. The response to the Ebola outbreak in Liberia is showing encouraging signs of progress, with downward trends in new cases especially in two regions of the country that had been hot spots.
  2. Millions Of Medicaid Kids Missing Regular Checkups. Millions of low-income children ...

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Oncologists have one of the lowest burnout rates. Why? The alarm clock’s blast brings hours of work, running from task to task, always pushing toward the next turn.  In moments of failure, the waves of complexity and anxiety batter and you question each stroke. Then you fly downhill, easy breeze in your face, as success urges you on.  After the finish, the parking lot empties, the lights go out, and ...

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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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Medicine cannot be reduced to just a job. Heres why. A few months ago I was paged by a medical student in the emergency room at ten o'clock. I had just changed my clothes, and before my pager went off my attention had been squarely fixed on the newest Jack Reacher novel. You can usually tell when someone is going to ask you to come into the hospital from home, because there ...

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Does Brittany Maynards decision affect the future of oncology? Would you base a life or death decision based on one doctor’s opinion? One research article? Google searches? What would it take? I recently read that Brittany Maynard took her own life. Plagued by glioblastoma, she chose to reject chemotherapy, radiation, and hospice. Tomorrow, I have a schedule packed with glioblastoma patients who personify courage, determination, and faith. Glioblastoma (GBM) ...

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A medical student diagnosed with cancer Ironically, we had just finished our endocrine unit when I noticed a lump in my neck. Perhaps school had made me more vigilant, or perhaps I merely fell into the realm of hypochondriac medical student, but I couldn’t ignore this lump. I set up an appointment with my doctor fully expecting a diagnosis of medical student neuroticism. Instead she agreed that it was ...

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No CT scans for old smokers? "Traditionally, doctors used to be called in when needed. But this is now changing. Increasingly it is the doctor who calls the person in by issuing an invitation. Healthy people are asked to visit the surgery for a 'check-up,' or 'screening,' when their computerized records show they are 'due.' Non-attendance is known as 'non-compliance,' indicating an element of recklessness and irresponsibility." - Petr ...

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Recently, NPR published the results of a study confirming that removal of both breasts (a double mastectomy) fails to improve the chance of survival compared to breast conserving treatments for breast cancer. The headline of the story was “Double Mastectomies Don't Yield Expected Results, Study Finds.” This finding is not actually news to informed physicians. Since the 1980s, there has been widespread recognition that both mastectomies and lumpectomies offer an ...

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After a prostate cancer diagnosis: The urgency to treat Hearing the words “you have cancer” changes everything. In my role as clinical nurse specialist in a busy prostate clinic, I see the effects of these three words on men and their families every day. The shock and disbelief, the fear and confusion as most men feel perfectly well with no symptoms at all. Many men want to do something ...

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