Blogs

Blogs

ASCOconnection.org is a forum for the exchange of views on topical issues in the field of oncology. The views expressed in the blogs, comments, and forums belong to the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Please read the Commenting Guidelines.

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Each time I reach the point of recommending radiation treatment for someone with a brain tumor or head and neck cancer, I ask for a higher level of trust from each patient than usual: let us make a mask to keep you safe.
I was lying in bed, watching something with my son when a chat message popped up on screen. It was my dear friend, Narin, whom I haven't seen in years but remain in contact with (thanks to the wonders of social media)."Did you hear that Dave died?" she had written; "I just read it in our...
It was an awkward moment—the uncomfortable silence and her smarting reply. I regretted biting my lip and the nonverbal message that gesture implied. I felt bad for the obvious pain that I’d unmasked in her face. Her eyes had narrowed, and she’d withdrawn as if I’d hit her.
Ordering CT, MRI, or PET scans for my patients when they feel well always makes me nervous. As a radiation oncologist, I’ve chosen to frequently make observations that potentially find active, progressive cancer. And this creates an existential crisis that scares me—but not as much as it scares my...
By Anupama Kurup Acheson, MD.  From accounts before 1600 BC in ancient Greece to records of a large census done during the Han Dynasty in China, censuses have played a crucial role historically across the world.
Maybe I should’ve noticed how she looked… “She” was a new patient, Louise*, and she had been diagnosed with stage IV cervical cancer. Only in her 40s, the diagnosis had hit her extremely hard. At her first meeting, she wanted the “truth,” and I had told her what I felt to be most relevant--that her...
I looked ridiculous. Dressed in the black-and-white-striped soccer referee shirt, I looked like roadkill on a black asphalt road with the white sidewalk markings. It reminded me of how uncomfortable I looked in my interview suit and tie as a medical student interviewing at residency programs....
I often am asked for opinions about hematology/oncology cases from colleagues around the country. Additionally, whenever a family friend or relative is diagnosed with cancer, I also often am asked for an opinion. How do you handle these unofficial second opinions?
Everyone’s talking about health care costs these days. The presentations usually start with a chart of rising health care expenditures, the tip of the line pointing skywards. Next come exhaustive (and exhausting) tables, more charts, all punctuated with a final shrug of uncertainty from the speaker...
Do you know that flying in an airplane 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year for a few years is safer than being a patient in a hospital for a fraction of a day?
Our practice recently had a visiting speaker sponsored by a pharmaceutical company speaking on a new drug for the treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer. As part of the presentation, a Phase III randomized trial was presented demonstrating an improvement in median survival with the use of the...
“What do you think?” my nurse, Laura, had asked as we discussed her call from Ms. Lyons*. Ms. Lyons, an ovarian cancer survivor whom I have known for years, had called Laura after she had developed a discoloration on her abdominal wall and vague abdominal pain. She thought it might have something...
"Value-Based Medicine," if not yet a term for the ages, is an increasingly embraced concept for our times of diminishing health care resources, a time for doing more with less. The risks of not taking this reality seriously are borne out by Sequestration, another newly coined term in our vocabulary...
As an oncologist who also runs a sexual health clinic for women treated (or under treatment), I am discovering that my perspective on both issues of cancer treatment (and survival) and life after cancer (and quality of life) is somewhat unique. I am conscious of how difficult it is to bring up...
Two weeks ago, I presented Yale Surgical Grand Rounds focused on “Cost and Quality in Cancer Care.” Amidst the talks in Washington regarding our unsustainable health care spending, and provisions of the Affordable Care Act rapidly taking hold, it seemed appropriate to start to critically evaluate...
I recently saw a new patient with advanced cancer in the intensive care unit (ICU). She had been treated with multiple lines of therapy at other cancer centers. While she already had an oncologist, I was called in to help the ICU team with any oncologic issues. There were no acute cancer problems...
An email was waiting for me one morning from my wonderful nurse, Laura. "Very sad day," it said in the subject line. I opened the email quickly upon receiving it (we had just recovered from a northeast blizzard, after all) and read that one of my patients had died. This age-old dilemma again made...
One of the toughest situations in oncology is the discussion about next steps, particularly when it comes to treatment of recurrent or metastatic disease. I believe very much that it is realistic to offer a patient the hope of cancer as a “chronic disease,” that treatment can result in disease...

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