Yesterday the AMA news informed me that cyberchondria is on the rise. So it’s a good moment to consider the term’s meaning and history.
Cyberchondria is an unfounded health concern that develops upon searching the Internet for information about symptoms or a disease. A cyberchondriac is someone who surfs the Web about a medical problem and worries about it unduly.
Through Wikipedia, I located what might be the first reference to cyberchondria in a medical journal: a 2003 article in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry. A section on the new diagnosis starts like this: “Although not yet in the Oxford English Dictionary, the word ‘cyberchondria’ has been coined to describe the excessive use of internet health sites to fuel health anxiety.” That academic report links back to a 2001 story in the Independent, “Are you a Cyberchondriac?”
Two Microsoft researchers, Ryen White and Eric Horvitz, authored a “classic”
See more Cyberchondria Rising — What is the Term’s Meaning and History?
The two-letter acronym specifies a molecule, or antigen, usually on a cell’s surface…
See more Defining a Cluster of Differentiation, or CD
The Times ran an intriguing experiment on its Well blog yesterday: a medical problem-solving contest. The challenge, based on the story of a real girl who lives near Philadelphia, drew 1379 posted comments and closed this morning with publication of the answer.
Dr. Lisa Sanders, who moderated the piece, says today that the first submitted correct response came from a California physician; the second came from a Minnesota woman who is not a physician. Evidently she recognized the condition’s manifestations from her experience working with people who have it.
The public contest – and even the concept of using the word “contest” – to solve a real person’s medical condition interests me a lot. This kind of puzzle is, as far as I know, unprecedented apart from the somewhat removed domains of doctors’ journals and on-line platforms intended for physicians, medical school problem-based learning cases, clinical pathological conferences (CPC’s) and
See more Crowd-Sourcing a Medical Puzzle
A prominent article in yesterday’s New York Times considers some troubling problems regarding inaccuracy in breast cancer diagnosis and pathology. The main point is that some women get needless, disfiguring and toxic treatments after being told they have breast cancer when, it turns out, their condition was benign.
My main take on this situation – which doesn’t just apply to breast cancer – is that, whenever possible, patients should get a second opinion on biopsy results before undergoing major treatment. The costs of a second pathology review is sometimes covered by insurance, but sometimes it’s not; either way, that’s money well-spent, especially if the opinion is rendered by an appropriately-credentialed, expert pathologist who works in a state-of-the-art facility.
From the doctor’s perspective there’s responsibility, too. Surgeons shouldn’t lop off a woman’s breast without knowing that the pathology is real. Well-trained oncologists know they’re supposed to review the pathology, to make
See more Suggestions to Reduce Errors in Breast Cancer Pathology
…This goes well beyond a new approach to finding a cure for Parkinson’s disease. This story, largely based in genomics and computational advances, reflects the power of the human mind, how the gifted son of two mathematicians who fell into a particular medical situation, can use his brains, intellectual and financial resources, and creativity, to at least try to make a difference.
See more On Sergey’s Search (for a Cure for Parkinson’s Disease)
Among my hundred questions about this enterprise — notwithstanding the ethics of performing clinical trials in hospice patients, as is related in the Times article – is this: does the dye harm the kidneys? As for how much it costs, that’s not said either. Because Alzheimer’s is a fairly common disease and memory loss an even commoner condition, the potential demand for this marketable diagnostic method might be great. What are we thinking?
See more The New Alzheimer’s Plaque Test (and early breast cancer detection)
As pretty much anyone traveling in Europe this week can tell you, it’s sometimes hard to know what will happen next. Volcanologists – the people most expert in this sort of matter – simply can’t predict what the spitfire at Eyjafjallajokull will do next. It comes down to this: the volcano’s eruption could get better or it could get worse…
See more Uncertainty Rules (on Eyjafjallajokull, volatility and a patient’s prognosis)