Perhaps, doctors struggle more than most with memories that mark sad moments in their careers. For me, one of the most indelible was of a wonderful young man with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). When I started my oncology career in the early 1970s, CML was almost always fatal. It would start with a chronic phase, which was treated with pretty simple medications. But those medications didn’t cure the disease. The “almost always” ...

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Seven years ago, when I was first diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer, I approached it with a determination to win. As a competitive runner, that’s what I’ve always done. Cancer would be another uphill battle, with tough stretches as well as easier ones, just like my races. My oncologist encouraged me to keep running during all my treatments, telling me it would help on many levels. He and I knew it would ...

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A recent study of men with early-stage prostate cancer found no difference in 10-year death rates, regardless of whether their doctors actively monitored the cancers for signs of growth or eradicated the men’s cancers with surgery or radiation. What does this study mean for patients? Based on research we have conducted on prostate cancer decision-making, the implications are clear: Patients need to find physicians who will interact with ...

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A 54-year-old man is evaluated during follow-up consultation regarding laboratory studies completed for a life insurance policy. He reports no symptoms. On physical examination, temperature is 37.2 °C (99.0 °F), blood pressure is 131/76 mm Hg, pulse rate is 88/min, and respiration rate is 15/min. No splenomegaly is noted. Laboratory studies: Hemoglobin 8.9 g/dL (89 g/L) Leukocyte count 3000/µL (3.0 × 109/L) with 30% neutrophils, 10% monocytes, and 60% lymphocytes Mean corpuscular volume 105 fL Platelet count 75,000/µL ...

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Ben Stiller—one of the few comedians on this side of the pond who can make me laugh—said prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing saved his life. I suspect he wasn’t being funny. Stiller had Gleason Grade 7 localized prostate cancer. Is he right? The honest answer is that we don’t know for certain. Before I get granular, we must visit proof, level of proof and burden of proof. The statement, “there’s no ...

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Our culture has taken a strange turn where the truth is relative, and where conspiracy theories rule the day. News sources and social networks are rife with political agendas, fake articles, and disguised advertisements. This chaos harms our social welfare, but can also impact physical health. Misleading news reports of new clinical studies make it difficult to discern medical fact from fiction. I spend hours in clinic justifying recommendations to patients ...

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asco-logo Evidence-based medicine. It is what we all strive to provide. It means employing the most up-to-date knowledge to the approach of medicine, from preventive care to screening to the diagnostic work-up and treatment. Wherever the data point us, that’s what we should do. Yet putting it into practice can sometimes be the most challenging part of being ...

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When I find a lump in my left breast, I am stunned. I probably shouldn't be surprised, but I'm immobilized. It takes me several days before I tell my partner, who has to push me into action. I get the referral from my doctor and schedule a mammogram. The radiology practice fits me into their schedule that same week, but I still have several days to sit with the unknown. Finally, ...

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I began one of my medical oncology rotations alongside my co-resident: an MD/PhD, fast-track (pre-matched into fellowship) future oncologist. Among my three interns that rotation, two were “Harvard kids.” Needless to say, I was intimidated. My colleague and counterpart not only had the entire catalogue of genomic alterations at the tip of his tongue, he knew and understood their implications on disease. I saw my intern having a long conversation ...

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As rheumatologists, we pride ourselves on spending time with our patients, listening to their problems and their family’s problems, and answering all of their questions. Whenever my husband and I run into a patient of mine on the street, they always tell him that I am the best doctor ever. In spite of these accolades, I realized recently I was guilty of doing something with a handful of my patients ...

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