Monthly Archives: April 2013

Is it a mole or melanoma?

By Daniel Mark Siegel, MD, MS

Winter is ending and the temptation to shed some layers comes alive.

But if you do show off your body, pay attention — particularly if you are a mole-y person with dozens of moles, especially funny looking irregular ones all over the place. You may have a condition called “dysplastic nevus syndrome” or “familial atypical multiple mole-melanoma syndrome,” which makes you more likely to develop melanoma.  Nevus is the fancy Latin word for “mole,” which is a benign growth, but melanoma is a skin cancer that if not diagnosed and treated early can be lethal.

The difficulties of diagnosing melanoma

Fortunately, there are a lot more nevi (not nevuses) than melanoma.  So how do you tell them apart? Sometimes it is easy for your doctor to reassure you, but other times, even with the use of the skilled eyes of the dermatologist and added magnification, dermoscopy, and other evolving imaging techniques, it’s still not clear. In such cases, a biopsy is needed.

A biopsy is where all or part of a mole is removed, sent to the lab, and a report of the analysis comes back. Sometimes the report is straightforward and says “benign mole” with no need for further treatment.… Continue reading →

Can you trust that medical journal?

By Ted Gansler, MD, MBA, MPH

 

Ed. note (10/10/13): Dr. Gansler has an update to this blog, originally published 4/18/13.
In an interesting update on this topic, Science magazine recently published results of a “sting operation” intended to identify bogus journals. A journalist from Science fabricated an intentionally bogus article about a fictitious anti-cancer drug, with errors so obvious that, “Any reviewer with more than a high-school knowledge of chemistry and the ability to understand a basic data plot should have spotted the paper’s short-comings immediately.” Shockingly, the vast majority of journals that received this article failed to notice these obvious flaws and agreed to publish it… for a fee. For more details, see http://www.sciencemag.org/content/342/6154/60.full.

An article in the April 8 New York Times titled “Scientific Articles Accepted (Personal Checks, Too)” caught my attention. It describes the growing availability of free online medical journals that use questionable tactics to gather and publish research of questionable quality.

The article piqued my interest because the experiences of some researchers described in it are similar to my own. I am also an editor of CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, one of the American Cancer Society’s medical journals, so I have an interest in the world of journal publishing.… Continue reading →