Breast cancer awareness: Its more than mammogramsIt's October and that means we are about to see a lot of pink for the next 31 days. And virtually all of the work comes down to one simple -some might say overly simple-message: Get a mammogram. But as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM), begins, I find myself one again asking some difficult questions: Are we ...

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Proton beam therapy: We need more than informed hope on social mediaI had an interesting day this past week. Sadly, it left me wondering why the same "hope and hype" directed at cancer patients and their families decades ago when I started my oncology career was still alive and well today. But then, maybe I am the naïve one to think that anything should have really changed. In the morning ...

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A friend of mine plays a mean game of poker.  She comes out ahead in Atlantic City, finishing near the top in hold ’em tournaments.  She is a poker savant. Not long ago I asked her secret to playing the game so well. “I learned to play cards when I was being trained to treat cancer.” “Oh,” I said, “the discipline, memorization, patience and statistics?” “No, that is when I learned not to ...

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The public perception of oncologists: Is it really true?I had taken care of her for years. We had faced a new diagnosis, the toxicities of adjuvant treatment, the promises of having no evidence of disease (NED as my friend, Molly, refers to it), only to have it shattered with the first recurrence. Over the next three years, she had undergone treatment -- chemotherapy, a trial of endocrine therapy, ...

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A friend of mine has been living well with lung cancer for five years -- working, running several miles a day, traveling, doing good stuff with his family, and generally enjoying the pleasures of everyday life. He knows the cancer will eventually kill him, but has been making the most of every remaining minute. Then, a month ago, things suddenly turned dramatically south. Severe shortness of breath, constant coughing, sleeplessness, fatigue, ...

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We’re born into our bodies, and we take that for granted. Our first job is to take a breath, something we’ll hopefully do many millions of times and never think about.  That first breath changes everything: Our blood starts to flow through our heart and lungs in a different way and for the first time we taste a new world. Before we’re born, all our needs are met via an artery and ...

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Estrogen therapy and breast cancer: The pharmacist said no It’s not often that I find myself speechless. I have heard all sorts of stories in my office -- as a sexuality counselor, I am often humbled by the trust that people place in me and how much they disclose about their private lives. But one conversation I had with a patient literally made my jaw drop. The patient is a ...

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Up to this point, it had only been a hypothesis: That celebrity firepower can definitively drive consumer health behavior in a certain direction. The case here concerns whether women wish to embark on a genetic hunting expedition to see if they are at high risk of developing a particular disease such as breast cancer, and the motivator in this case is Angelina Jolie. The actress underwent genetic testing for mutations related ...

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Test your medicine knowledge with the MKSAP challenge, in partnership with the American College of Physicians. A 69-year-old woman is evaluated for a lump under her arm found on self-examination. She is otherwise healthy and has no other symptoms. Medical and family histories are unremarkable, and she takes no medications. On physical examination, temperature is 37.4 °C (99.3 °F), blood pressure is 110/70 mm Hg, pulse rate is 72/min, ...

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Two women, two cancers, two different pathwaysI sometimes wonder what I would do if I was told I had cancer. How much would I subject myself to in order to survive, or to achieve remission? As a parent, I can answer only that I would likely go through hell and back if it meant being there for my kids -- to watch them grow up, graduate ...

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