He could not stand Legs weak from the wasting effects of a cruel disease Stripping him of his manhood Denying him his future He could not eat His mouth cracked and dry Saliva having made an untimely exit from his personhood Unable to return again He could no longer dream He would say As I stared at him Longing to do more than hope that his pain patch Would lessen the pain of not just dying but of knowing one is dying. When ...

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I had an upsetting encounter the other day with a 22-year-old woman, who mentioned (secondary to the purpose of the visit) that she was pretty sure she had breast cancer. Why did she think that? She’d found a lump in her breast. (Somewhat unusually for the specific setting, she let me do a breast exam. All I felt was a small area of lumpy breast tissue, possibly a fibroadenoma at worst. Of course, ...

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asco-logo When I was a resident, my colleagues chided me for wanting to be an oncologist. Back then (and it pains me to be old enough to use that phrase, by the way), oncology was thought of as a field of futility. We administered toxic drugs to patients with cancer, and far more often than not, they ...

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For many physicians, the term “compassion fatigue” may imply, as the words describe, that fatigue leads to the loss of ability to feel compassion for others. After all, what physician doesn’t have a day when s/he is too tired, running on too little reserve, and feeling some degree of emotional numbness? Many physicians may not realize, however, that compassion fatigue can go much deeper.  According to the Compassion ...

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After years of declining rates of colorectal cancer (CRC), a study from the American Cancer Society raises the specter that not all is going as well as we would have hoped, especially among younger folks born since 1990. And that raises the question of what the future holds for this frequently preventable form of cancer, ...

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Two years ago, former President Barack Obama announced the Precision Medicine initiative in his State of the Union Address. The initiative aspired to a “new era of medicine” where disease treatments could be specifically tailored to each patient’s genetic code. This resonated soundly in cancer medicine. Patients can already manage their cancer with therapies that target the specific genes that are altered in their particular tumor. For ...

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After Michael Uvanni’s older brother, James, was diagnosed with a deadly form of skin cancer, it seemed as if everyone told the family what they wanted to hear: Have hope. You can beat this, and we are here to help. The brothers met with doctors at a half-dozen of the country’s best hospitals, all with impressive credentials that inspired confidence. Michael Uvanni was in awe when he visited the University of Texas ...

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Recently, someone close to me was diagnosed with cancer. Due to a series of missed phone calls on both sides, he had not heard the results of his biopsy prior to his follow up appointment. When his young doctor walked in, he started with, “So you know you have cancer, right?” I just wanted to scream, “What the f*ck!”  It is never easy to give someone bad news, but this ...

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The day after I told Nell she had seven metastases to her brain, she sent me flowers. She was my patient; I was her oncologist. I had met her one year prior, when she was well into her cancer journey, stage IV breast cancer at diagnosis. I took over from her current oncologist, who was moving. At our first visit together, she grilled me without mercy. Her questions were insightful, and ...

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Sometimes It’s important to know the news behind the news: the comments and the cautions that don’t get into the article that the public gets to read. It’s the sort of thing that keeps me up at night: trying to convey the reality, while realizing what most people want to hear is the hope. That’s the problem I have with a story posted on a major news network website ...

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