Don’t Blur the Message on Cancer Screening

I hope this week’s headlines and editorials don’t add to the blurriness of the public’s perception of cancer screening – that people might begin to think it’s a bad thing all around. The details matter….screening if it’s done right can save lives and dollars. That’s because for most tumor types, treating advanced, metastatic disease is costlier than treatment of early-stage, curable tumors.

How Much Do You Want Your Doctors To Say About Risks of Treatment?

This kind of paternalism, when a doctor assesses the risks and benefits, and spares the patient’s “knowing” seems anachronistic. But it may, still, be what many people are looking for when and if they get a serious illness. Not everyone wants a “tell me everything” kind of physician.

EMILIA Trial: T-DM1 Appears Helpful in Women with Her2+ Metastatic Breast Cancer

The new agent is a hybrid of an old monoclonal antibody, Herceptin, that’s chemically attached to DM1, a traditional kind of chemotherapy. The preliminary results of this randomized trial are encouraging. …It’s hard to know how this promising, likely expensive, intravenous drug will fit in with others for patients with Her2+ breast cancer.

10 Newly-Defined Molecular Types of Breast Cancer in Nature, and a Dream

The 10 molecular BC categories bear prognostic (survival) information and, based on their distinct mutations and gene expression patterns, potential targets for novel drugs….I wonder if, in a few years, some breast cancers might be treated without surgery.

New Article on Mammography Spawns False Hope That Breast Cancer is Not a Dangerous Disease

Few forms of invasive breast cancer warrant no treatment unless the patient is so old that she is likely to die first of another condition, or the patient prefers to die of the disease….“Mammograms Spot Cancers That May Not Be Dangerous,” said WebMD, yesterday. This is feel-good news, and largely wishful.

New Studies on Colon Cancer Screening by Colonoscopy and Fecal Blood Testing

My take is that periodic colonoscopy has the potential to halve the number of deaths from colon cancer in the general population…As to how colonoscopy relates to fecal blood testing as a screening method at the population level, and the optimal start and frequency of either test, those remain uncertain.

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