A prostate cancer breakthrough: The good and not so good newsThe annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology is a place where many commercial interests jostle for attention to make their latest promising therapy the star of the show. But a standard widely available generic drug stole the show by producing incredible results in improving survival for men with advanced prostate cancer. And that has some of us ...

Read more...

When you tell people that your dad died of lung cancer, often the the follow up question is, "Did he smoke?" In my case, the answer is, sort of. I have fuzzy memories of my dad in our basement, smoking his pipe in his black leather chair and watching the original Doctor Who (I’m still processing the cultural implications of that last detail).  Rumor has it he smoked cigars in the ’60s, ...

Read more...

Dr. Robert's office felt right to me, with a musical birdsong soundtrack, soft lighting and fresh green tea, and I had my best friend in tow: piece of cake. In this serene atmosphere, I was sure that I'd find out what to do next to finish treating my endometrial cancer. "It's probably gone now, since my hysterectomy two weeks back," I thought. "But let's play it safe; he's the gynecological-cancer guru." Like ...

Read more...

It was 1:35 p.m. when we realized that Tom was not just late for his chemotherapy treatment; he probably would not show up at all.  A call from one of our staff confirmed, he had “troubles getting a ride” and wanted to move the vital therapy to another day.  This was the third time in a month he had missed an appointment, thus wasting a treatment slot, nursing time and ...

Read more...

Criticizing The Fault in Our Stars does childhood cancer a disservice A pediatric oncologist seems to suggest we shouldn’t be getting too upset about childhood cancer because kids and teens dying or going blind “are things that we don’t typically encounter.” “I think the important thing to realize is that cancer in children is highly treatable and ultimately curable,” Dr. Charles Hemenway of Loyola University said in HemOnc Today, in response to the movie ...

Read more...

Address the racial disparity of colorectal cancerAn article published recently in the American Cancer Society journal CA: A Journal for Clinicians received a lot of media attention. The report showed dramatic declines in the rate of people being diagnosed with colorectal cancer, as well as decreases in the rates of colorectal cancer deaths over the past number of years. But the press didn't say much about the fact that not everyone ...

Read more...

You will never see my face or know my name. You probably won't give much thought to what happens to your blood after your doctor says, "I think we need to run some tests," and the phlebotomist draws it into the tubes with their colored tops. I know I never did, until I became a medical laboratory technologist. Over the course of a normal day at the hospital lab, my coworkers ...

Read more...

I've had many Twitter conversations with cancer screening advocates who fear that the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force's "D" (don't do it) recommendation against PSA-based screening for prostate cancer will lead to a dramatic spike in prostate cancer deaths as primary care physicians screen more selectively, or perhaps stop screening at all. I seriously doubt these apocalyptic forecasts (for one thing, prostate cancer causes only 3% of deaths in men, and ...

Read more...

A woman in her 70s came into my clinic recently. Her primary doc found a mass so she came to the hospital for a biopsy and passed out on the table so they scanned her head and found a mass there, too. She started radiation and then came to meet me in the outpatient clinic. She had trouble expressing herself because she’d had a stroke two decades ago, but it didn’t ...

Read more...

The incidence of esophageal adenocarcinoma has increased more than five-fold over the past four decades in the U.S. While the rate of rise in incidence of esophageal cancer has slowed somewhat in recent years, this malignancy is still associated with a dismal prognosis. Barrett’s esophagus, the precursor lesion to esophageal cancer, is easily identifiable on routine upper endoscopy and can be monitored for the development of precancerous changes. We generally ...

Read more...