In the next few years, the biggest advancements in cancer care may occur at the smallest level, the level of individual molecules. By imaging individual molecules on cancer cells, malignancies can be detected when they are smaller and more easily treated.  Targeting individual molecules has also allowed groundbreaking new therapies with great precision, increasing the efficacy of treatment and minimizing side effects. This effort sounds like something out of “science fiction,” but ...

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"Separated by less than a month (Boseman on August 28th and Ginsburg on September 18th) and both due to gastrointestinal cancers (Boseman had colon cancer and Ginsburg had pancreatic cancer), the situations of Ginsburg’s and Boseman’s deaths is emblematic of the racial disparity in American health outcomes. Boseman was African American/Black and ...

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Recently, there have been several TV advertisements on cancer treatments that may extend life. They report survival data that can mislead cancer victims to the extent of possible longevity. Additionally, they present a false picture of how life can be spent. I have strong reservations regarding medication advertising to the public. Its purpose is to increase profits, not medical education. I know that businesses gamble significant amounts of money on drug ...

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Medicine is an art. One can learn about symptoms, diagnostics, and treatment plans for various diseases, from textbooks and journal articles. It is harder to study empathy, compassion, and human connection from conventional academic resources. The art of medicine is discovered, acquired, and absorbed on the job by interacting and connecting with patients and their families, by partnering with them in their journey through sickness to health or even the ...

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Radiation oncology has been around for a century, and, at first, advancements in the field came rapidly. The evolution of X-rays and CT scans to inform treatment. Intraoperative radiation therapy. Technology that allows for tailored dose distribution. But for the past 20 years, the pace of innovations seemed to slow. We remained stymied, for instance, by organs in the abdomen that move with every breath a patient takes. We struggled to ...

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After skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in men in the U.S., with one in eight men at risk of being diagnosed with this cancer during his lifetime. If you or a man you care about is undergoing prostate cancer treatment, you may be living with treatment-related side effects. These can vary depending on the type of treatment, including hormone therapy, radiation, surgery, immunotherapy, cryotherapy, and ...

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Being an internist, the day is filled with problem-solving.  The problems are often not straightforward and require thinking, rethinking, reevaluating, and reading up and researching before the problem can be solved.  However, when a sixth sense, an intuition kicks in that warns us that something needs to be addressed urgently even when we cannot specify or articulate why. Once I had a patient come in for shortness of breath that is ...

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The day before the United States border with Canada shut down to non-essential travelers, my mother left Chicago to take care of my grandparents who lived by themselves in Ottawa, Canada. With the COVID outbreaks at nursing homes, she took it upon herself to stay with them as long as they needed her. During the following months, my grandpa sustained another heart failure exacerbation, and my grandma was diagnosed with ...

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"Researchers should make clinical trials more accessible by providing patients with simple explanations of studies at a variety of locations, including community clinics and medical centers. Increased flexibility regarding transportation and visit timing is essential. Researchers should also allow the participation of people who do not speak English and those living with ...

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October is traditionally known as breast cancer awareness month. For me, seeing all the pink on social media is a stark reminder of my brush with the terror of breast cancer. As I was about to scrub into an operation, I got a call from my office manager. She asked if I would be at my wife's doctor's appointment with my partner that afternoon. I told her I was busy, but ...

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asco-logo “How can I help you, sir?” I asked because it was clear he wanted help. I could sense the man’s distress over the phone. His voice cracked just a little, and he cleared his throat frequently. I hadn’t met him, and so had no image of him in my mind, but I thought he might be tall, broad-shouldered, and maybe ...

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Some poignant moments with patients take me by surprise.  I have had hundreds (thousands?) of difficult discussions with patients.  They are all difficult and unique, but sometimes they unexpectedly and without good explanation, catch me off guard. I saw a long term patient with metastatic cancer who survived recent saddle PE despite a delay in anticoagulation.  Not many people have this kind of strength.  When I mentioned this fact, she shrugged ...

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"We can clearly see that exponential technologies are disrupting cars and phones. So why wouldn’t these technologies find their way into health care and gastroenterology? What do stool tests have to do with self-driving cars? We’ll soon find out. But let’s first go back to the discussion we had earlier on the shift ...

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I began my career in psychiatry with the desire to work with dying patients. This is an odd way to begin, but I had begun my career with interest in oncology and eventually discovered the field of psycho-oncology. After graduating, the first population I worked with was HIV infected individuals when an HIV diagnosis was a certain death sentence. The work centered on helping the individual accept their impending death ...

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“Hey, did you hear the news?”  Tanya, my long-time friend, texts, referring to a social media post. It is peculiar (even perplexing) we get our news this way.  “In a relationship,” engagements, weddings, buns-in-ovens.  Baby pictures, white beaches, sunsets.  Those are happy news. Then there are the break-ups, the “not-in-a-relationship,” the I-hate-my-job rants.  These posts are intense.  The need for drama goads me into wanting to know more about the people's not-so-secret ...

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"As our office begins to return to pre-COVID operations, it has been uplifting to have a relative sense of normalcy, even though morale seems to be reduced. It is difficult to promote team building and improve morale when everyone has to maintain social distancing. I would love to go out for a meal with my staff, hug my patients, and lecture ...

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November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month, a time when many people in my profession shine a spotlight on the dangers of taking lung health for granted. This year, few need the reminder. COVID-19 is deadly, contagious, and upending life as we know it. It is also a lung disease. As a thoracic surgeon, I tell people that, if you’re worried about COVID-19, what you’re really worried about is lung health. And ...

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The recent death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has brought immense attention to the future of the Supreme Court with the scrutinized nomination of Amy Barrett amid the COVID-19 pandemic and upcoming presidential election. As an oncologist and public health physician, however, I cannot help but to focus on the medical causes of her death rather than the political consequences and see a stark contrast in her passing from cancer ...

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My head used to be my greatest asset, and back in 2012, I had my life on track because of it. With a medical education and a few years of work experience on my back, I felt that I had options in life. I had even saved up to be able to buy a home. Then illness caught up with me. And not just any illness, but one of the kinds ...

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Lung cancer screening is a process that is used to detect the presence of lung cancer in otherwise healthy people at high risk for cancer. In 2020, 229,000 people will be diagnosed with lung cancer, and 136,000 people will die from the disease, making it the leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. Data show that screening for lung cancer with low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) reduces the risk of dying ...

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