A tanning salon – a business that causes melanoma and other skin cancers – is promoting a walk of bikini-wearing women in summer sun to break an amusing world’s record. This parade will …
This morning the FDA announced approval of Zelboraf (vemurafenib) for treatment of some patients advanced melanoma. This is the second drug the agency has approved for this disease in recent months, after nearly two decades of a lack of new or effective therapies for melanoma. Zelboraf is a pill. This small-molecule drug is thought to […]
Last night the Big C returned, not surprisingly with an opening dream sequence. Laura Linney, portraying Cathy Jamison in the Showtime series, is running. The scene turns out to be a nightmare, and she awakens with a headache and her husband by her side. OK so far. Within a few minutes, Cathy’s young oncologist informs […]
(Hopefully a second opinion) When I last wrote on The Big C, a Showtime series in which the actress Laura Linney portrays a woman in her forties with advanced melanoma, I considered some of the options she might choose when the series resumes next Monday night. At the end of Season 1, she elected to […]
Yesterday I wrote on some tough decisions facing a TV show‘s protagonist. She’s got metastatic melanoma and might participate in a clinical trial when the show resumes. Now imagine you’re an oncologist, or a real patient with this killing disease – you really need to be on top of new developments, to understand the pros […]
I’ve been toying with the idea of messing with a cable TV show’s plotline. At the first season’s end of The Big C, the story’s protagonist decides to accept a harsh and usually ineffective treatment for her advanced melanoma: interleukin-2 (IL-2). Cathy, played by the actress Laura Linney, understands the goal is not for a […]
This morning health business mavens are chirping with bright results for ipilimumab, a monoclonal antibody that can extend life in people with metastatic melanoma. If the new data – which I haven’t seen – are true, it’s good news for patients. In 2010, melanoma affected 68,000 people in the U.S. and led to death in […]
This morning’s news feed delivered some seemingly excellent news for some people with melanoma. At least until now, this form of skin cancer has been considered incurable when metastatic. In the last year, we heard details about the ups and downs of ongoing clinical trials of new drugs to treat the disease. The Times reports […]
“I don’t want to get sicker trying to get better and then just end up dying anyway” – Cathy, the 42 year old protagonist, with advanced melanoma, on the Big C.
Spoiler alert: Don’t read this post if you don’t want to know what happens to Cathy in the Big C…After months of unusual and comfort zone-breaking behavior, Cathy
Last night I stayed up late to see the season finale of the Big C. For the first time in watching this series about a 42 year old woman with advanced melanoma, in a near-final scene involving the protagonist Cathy’s teenage son, I cried.
The storyline is moving, finally, in a real and not necessarily happy direction.
The Big C’s plot includes at least two “atypical” and potentially complex features. First, Cathy chooses not to take chemotherapy or other treatment. This intrigues me, and may be the show’s most essential component – that she doesn’t just follow her doctor’s advice. Second, she doesn’t go ahead and inform her husband, brother or son about the condition, at least not so far…
Today the NY Times printed the third part of Amy Harmon’s excellent feature on the ups and downs and promise of some clinical trials for cancer. The focus is on a new drug, PLX4032, some people with melanoma who chose to try this experimental agent, and the oncologists who prescribed it to them.
What I like about this story is that, besides offering some insight on the drug itself, it balances the patients’ and doctors’ perspectives; it explains why some people might elect to take a new medication in an early-stage clinical trial and why some physicians push for these protocols because they think it’s best for their patients.
And it provides a window into the world of academic medicine, where doctors’ collaborate among themselves and sometimes with corporations.
Here’s some of what I learned: