"When doctors ignore the evidence showing that a support system doesn’t have to be traditional in order to be effective, that’s not a medical judgment. It’s a personal prejudice that puts singles at serious risk. Classifying patients as married or unmarried when studying the effects of social support undoubtedly makes research easier, with groups determined by a simplistic either-or. But since social ...

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That’s the question that will be on the minds of many as the Food and Drug Administration releases a second study on the absorption of sunscreens. The reality is that answering the “safe” question is becoming more complicated—and more important as well, given the fact that so many of us use sunscreens as part of our own sun safety efforts, while others (me included) use sunscreen as part of our daily ...

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Breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed during pregnancy. In fact, 5 percent of invasive breast cancers occur in women less than 40 years of age, and 7 to 14 percent of premenopausal breast cancers occur in pregnant women. Harrington and other surgeons in 1943 felt that the prognosis was so poor for pregnant women with breast cancer that radical mastectomy was not justified. As women delay both marriage and ...

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An ecosystem of inpatient medicine moved at full speed around me as the news came in. It was the fall of my intern year, and my mother’s glioblastoma was back. Just months earlier, I had begun residency as a liability – a brand new, unproven doctor whose parent in another state was in remission from an almost universally fatal disease, one that was now rearing its ugly head. Someone, a ...

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When COVID-19 hit, routine cancer screenings nearly came to a halt. Now those postponed appointments and overdue tests will likely result in delayed cancer diagnoses. Now more than ever it’s an opportune time to educate the community about the importance of regular cancer screenings. While we have powerful treatments for those diagnosed with cancer, nothing is more powerful than prevention or early detection. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related ...

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It was only my first week in the hospital as a third-year medical student when we met. I entered your room early Tuesday morning. Only knowing your chief concern, I knocked on your door and entered the room. You didn't complain when I awakened you. You didn't complain when I asked many questions about a story you had already relayed multiple times to others. You didn't complain when ...

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The long debate about rationality and conformity in both medicine and religion has been intense on many levels. Some people claim science requires certainty, validity, and reliability; others believe faith and optimism are essential for scientific advancement. Some reasons for this argument might include the enormous prosecution of scientists
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Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of cancer screenings performed in the U.S. has plummeted. After decades of progress in detecting, treating, and preventing many types of cancers, this nation could face a “cancer pandemic” in the next ten years as a result of this delay in routine screenings. Postponed or canceled appointments for cancer screenings will likely result in delayed cancer diagnoses, recurrence of disease, and increases in cancer deaths. That ...

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I walked into Room 30 to find two eager sets of eyes awaiting me. One set belonged to a young man, late-20s, muscular and imposing, sitting in a chair in the corner of the room. His eyes were hazel brown, big and inviting, relieved at seeing my entry into their sheltered world. The other set of eyes, darker brown and magnified by her gold-stemmed glasses, belonged to my patient, a ...

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This new virus is changing everyday life-hospitals are doing their best to protect their staff and patients.  One thing I've learned is that they need to do a better job of communicating with families. My husband was 70 years old when he died of cancer and COVID-related issues.  He was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, lung mets to the brain on December 23, 2019. Because he had only one lesion in ...

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Setting: An impersonal, windowless conference room within a hospital Characters: A nurse in charge (NIC), a department chair (DC) and me (ME) *** NIC: Thank you for joining us to discuss the report you made of unprofessional behavior in the operating room. We’d like to start by letting you know that in this institution, we have a culture of informality. When I first got here, I found it unsettling that doctors were called ...

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An excerpt from Between Life and Death. Harry’s request to exclude Susan, from this conversation about cancer diagnosis and options of treatment was quite unusual, especially given how close I knew the couple to be. However, since Susan’s gaze remained on the carpet, I had no choice ...

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Five years ago, if you asked oncologists at my practice to name the list price of a given chemotherapy agent, most wouldn’t have known--unless they were executives, maybe. Pharmaceutical reps rarely talk about costs. The EMRs don’t give list prices. And when we input drug orders back then, no cost analyses were offered. These days, those same oncologists can quote efficacy and cost data chapter and verse for a variety of ...

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asco-logo As an oncologist, perhaps the hardest part I play is as witness. I am there to give a diagnosis that, more often than not, will alter someone’s life forever. For some, I see resignation—a sense that they’ve known something was wrong and that it’s what they thought they had. For others, I see an almost ...

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“Will I ever get better, Andrew?” my mother asked. She laid in bed, too weak to sit up, unable to eat, her myelofibrosis in the final stages of its relentless course. Her question stunned me – did she not know she was dying? How could she not? Was she in complete denial? Was she simply grasping for a final chance at hope when all seemed hopeless? Reality quickly set in, ...

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"Where did the myth of vampires come from? Like many myths, it is based partly in fact. A blood disorder called porphyria, which has has been with us for millennia, became prevalent among the nobility and royalty of Eastern Europe. A genetic disorder, it becomes more common with inbreeding. Porphyria is a malfunction in the process of hemoglobin production. Hemoglobin is ...

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In early 2001, my sister was tired, paler than usual. We didn’t think much of it. Then, months passed, and crimson pinpoints appeared on her skin. My brother and I took turns grasping her arm and snickering as our handprints would appear as red dots just a few minutes later. Symptoms amassed silently, but on my ninth birthday in May, something big happened. I remember hearing words like “low blood count” spoken ...

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Invisible and unassuming, the radioactive spider slowly descends from the ceiling, and before he knows it, Peter Parker's life has changed forever. With that one bite, he is transformed from a normal man into a reluctant superhero. Only, that infamous spider is COVID-19, and Peter Parker is a health care worker during these troubled times. It may surprise you to know that many of us in health care are uncomfortable being ...

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Like a lot of doctors my age, I was too busy to have checkups, working 60 hours a week plus night and weekend call. But that all changed in 2013 when at age 67, my dentist felt a submental lymph node. A CBC had 35,000 white cells, and I had chronic lymphocytic leukemia. When I told my wife that patients with CLL live a long time and die of something ...

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“You forgot your stethoscope!” The medical student dutifully pointed out as we were on our way to the patient room. “I don’t need it. But let me grab it anyway to pretend. But don’t tell anyone I said that!” I replied.  Her eyes widened with disbelief at the blasphemous statement.

At the turn of the millennium, the world was already going through seismic changes in how it conducts itself ...

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