I have been actively engaged in the clinical practice of radiation oncology for the last 40 years, and over the last 10 years have been asked to participate as a radiation oncology expert witness in a variety of medical malpractice cases. Radiation therapy, together with surgery and chemotherapy, is one of the major cancer treatment methods. It is estimated that 50-60% of all cancer patients seen in the USA receive treatment with ...

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If you are like millions of Americans, at some point in your adult life, your doctor will order you to have a CT or MRI scan. Quick, easy, and painless, these invaluable imaging tests provide a vast amount and array of diagnostic information about illnesses, and direct treatment paths. However, the real pain usually begins when you receive the bill. It is not uncommon for the charges, including radiological interpretation, to ...

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Thermography uses heat sensitive infrared cameras to image the body and measure heat emission. Solid tumors, even when they are tiny, have an increased blood flow and inflammation compared with non-cancerous tissue. Theoretically this could lead to a thermal gradient between a cancer and the surrounding non-cancerous tissues. Some animal studies indicate that thermography might detect heat differences between inflamed and non inflamed tissue and so it was postulated (initially back ...

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My kids were at the dentist this weekend for their routine cleaning and check ups (yes, Saturday hours!) when the hygienist mentioned x-rays. I smiled and mentioned I’d rather discuss the need with the dentist after his exam. This isn’t a dental x-ray thing, this is what I do for every test that involves ionizing radiation. My son, Oliver, has had more radiation than most people will have. Ever. In fact, ...

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A recent study has concluded that women with breast cancer who failed to get annual mammograms are more likely to die from their disease than those who had annual mammograms, and argues that more frequent mammograms are warranted in women under age 40. Unfortunately, despite all the media attention this study is getting, I don’t think the researcher’s conclusions are supported by the study results. The researchers did a retrospective ...

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From MedPage Today:

  1. FDA Panel Backs CT Colonography. An FDA advisory panel generally backed greater use of CT colonography in screening asymptomatic patients for colon cancer but did question certain aspects of the test.
  2. CDC Claims a Win for Anti-Smoking Ads. A 3-month advertising blitz sponsored by the CDC featuring "true stories told by former smokers" led some 220,000 current smokers to quit and ...

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Now that I am a "civilian," I get to experience the health care system like most of you. I marvel at the degree to which customer service mechanisms used by service providers in other sectors do not exist in health care. Please understand that I am not talking about the quality of care, or empathy, or attentiveness offered by doctors, nurses, radiology techs, lab techs and the like. On that ...

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I’ve been writing a lot about CT scans lately. Why are so many being done, and which children with head trauma really need one? CTs are really kind of neat—it’s amazing that we can peer into your body to see what’s going on in there. But like every other medical intervention and treatment, there are positives and negatives, pros and cons, a ying and a yang. I’ve mentioned some downsides ...

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Lung cancer screening CT took its most important step toward widespread implementation last week, when the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) released a draft of its forthcoming recommendation that the 9 million U.S. people meeting entry criteria for the National Lung Screening Trial (age 55-79, with 30+ pack-years smoking history and quit < 15 years) should undergo yearly low-dose lung cancer screening CT. The recommendation earned a Grade B in the USPSTF’s ...

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Many, myself included, have written about the overuse of head computed tomography (CT) scanning in children. This concern has become more focused now that we have some data on the radiation risk of those scans. The bottom line is not that we should stop doing head CTs in children, but that we should always balance the risk against the benefit, just as we should do with all medical testing. In ...

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