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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asco-logo One of the nurses knocked on my door on a quiet Monday morning. “Hey, can you see this patient? I guess it’s not urgent but he’s here now, and I think what the doctor told him just threw him for a loop.” Of course I had time. In my role as clinical nurse specialist in a busy uro-oncology unit, I see men who ...

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So there I was — in deep denial. Maybe you’ve been there: Ignoring the symptoms. Hoping and praying that it would just “go away.” A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. And as a doctor, I like to think I can Google with the best of them. So when I had a persistent scary symptom (full disclosure: it was bloody discharge from my left breast. Not subtle. Not intermittent. Not OK, even ...

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4.9 million — yes, million — people are diagnosed with skin cancer every year in the United States. It costs an estimated $8.1 billion —with a “B — to treat those skin cancers, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Do I have your attention? I hope so. The problem is we don’t have enough attention. There is no other way to ...

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The return from a vacation weighed on me physically.  This had been a true vacation -- an entire week away from clinic and spent with my family.  I even managed to unplug to the point of only checking email on my phone twice per day -- really! The tension that years ago took up permanent residence in my shoulders had faded away without my noticing, so that when I awoke to ...

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Are you a baby boomer? Have you been tested for hepatitis C virus (HCV)? Do you know why you should be tested for hepatitis C? Do you even know what hepatitis C is? According to research published by my colleagues from the American Cancer Society in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, the odds are overwhelming that if you are in the boomer generation you ...

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There is a shortage of rural physicians in the U.S.  My specialty, medical oncology, is but one of many specialties where the shortage is especially glaring. In oncology, I think there is perhaps a fear of practicing outside the walls of a large tertiary center and leaving behind the established framework and boundaries between the doctor and patient. I know it was a fear of ...

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Contrary to what my wife and colleagues think, it is not all about me. Well yes, I do get lonely sitting at my desk late at night, when my wife is busy, and the long-ago-moved-away kids are not available, and there is nothing running on NASCAR.  Nonetheless, it is not really about my needs.  I am talking, of course, about why I give patients my cell phone number. It is printed ...

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March is colon cancer awareness month. Created by gastroenterologist Amit Sachdev, this video was selected by the American Society of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy as part of their colorectal cancer screening campaign.  Enjoy. Image credit: Shutterstock.com

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