shutterstock_262498211 As my third year of clinical rotations comes to an end, I’ve been reflecting on the ways in which I use my training as an anthropologist on the wards. One patient comes to mind, a recent immigrant from South Asia who came into the hospital after an accident where he was bicycling and got hit by a car. He was scanned from ...

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The acronym "MI" has traditionally meant myocardial infarct, or heart attack. Recently it's taken on a new, more salubrious meaning: motivational interviewing. A growing number of docs are practicing this technique, which amounts to listening to patients to help them recognize their internal sources of behavior. Boston's NPR affiliate, WBUR, describes typical MI interventions in which doctors, instead of demanding that patients stop smoking or drinking or overeating, gently ...

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Let me be clear. I have spent a career, my adult life, 80 hours a week, 131,000 hours, fighting the dread disease: every method, every drug, every machine, every medical technique, every sinew of my being, to control or cure malignancy. A synopsis of my existence will say, “fought cancer.” Nonetheless, let us take a step back, if just for a moment, and reflect on the idea of saying, “no.” In ...

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shutterstock_128042738 The Men Against Breast Cancer Fund and several cancer advocacy and physician organizations have posted a petition on Change.org asking Congress to place a two-year moratorium on finalizing the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force's draft recommendations on screening for breast cancer to forestall the possibility that health insurers will stop covering screening mammograms for women younger than age 50. ...

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shutterstock_277427207 As I previously documented in a series of posts, the road to the U.S. Preventive Service Task Force's 2012 "don't do it" recommendation on PSA-based screening for prostate cancer was long, arduous, and full of political pitfalls. It led to me leaving my position at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Later, the USPSTF ...

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shutterstock_269166263 We all know what the American Cancer Society, the American College of Radiology, and countless other professional societies recommend regarding screening and diagnosing breast cancer in women. But a subject that comes up far less frequently is what to do with men. While it is significantly lower than in women, a man’s risk is not nearly as low as we might ...

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shutterstock_148383902 I am in my twenties. I am a student in dental school. My seven classmates and I have gathered, notebooks and pens in hand, for the first day of our ten-day rotation at the Veteran's Hospital oncology department. Dr. Steele, a published expert in oral cancer, instructs us to follow him to the outpatient clinic. Some of those he'll examine are initial consultations; ...

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As a practicing gynecologic oncologist, I have spoken the words, “I’m sorry, you have cancer,” or some version of that sentence thousands of times. And although my delivery is fairly consistent, modified only slightly to improve understanding, my patients’ responses vary from stunned silence to uncontrollable, overwhelming cataplexy. The stalwart emphatically reply “I’m gonna beat this thing,” but the vast majority tentatively wonder “How long do I have?” and retreat ...

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shutterstock_193162472 November of last year found me living as best I could with several health issues, the most debilitating of which stems from never having recovered from a serious viral infection in 2001. I’ve been diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, a little understood and much-misunderstood illness. It keeps me virtually housebound. For the most part, I’ve made peace with feeling sick all ...

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shutterstock_131772284 Recent clinical practice guidelines from the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommend against PSA screening for men of all ages, while other guideline groups, including the American Urological Association (AUA) and the American College of Physicians (ACP), recommend a shared decision making (SDM) approach to the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test. “Dueling guidelines” can create confusion for people who are ...

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