Monthly Archives: December 2006

2006: The Cancer Year In Review

As I prepare to leave the office for a much needed two week vacation, I thought it would be interesting to glance back at the news of 2006 and pick out the stories that I think represent the “news of the year” in cancer research, treatment and other various topics.


This wasn’t some sort of scientific analysis.  Simply, I reviewed my blog entries and my list of press notes in my email file to remind me which stories garnered the most interest or, in my opinion, had the most impact.


Not all of it is “news” in the traditional sense.  But these stories do reflect what has happened over the past year, and include some personal musings.


I won’t provide links to each of the stories, but you can easily search them by month and date and find the blogs I am referring to.  Also, I have talked about some of these topics several times over the past year.  Unfortunately, I can’t list every blog where a particular topic is mentioned.


So, without further discussion, here is what I consider the important stories of the year, and why I think they are … Continue reading →

Is The Decrease In Breast Cancer Incidence Real?

Sometimes you are taken a bit by surprise.  When that happens to me, I have learned the “surprise” may not be what it appears to be.


Yesterday’s report from the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium that the incidence of breast cancer fell dramatically between 2002 and 2003 was one of those surprises.


Not that we weren’t aware that the incidence of breast cancer was either leveling off—or actually decreasing—but we were surprised at the magnitude of the change.


But what has me concerned is the rush to judgment by some experts and much of the media as to the explanation for this apparent welcomed news.


They are saying that this is in fact due to one factor: the decrease in the use of hormone replacement therapy.


I do not agree.   There is something going on here that just doesn’t add up.


Let me say at the outset that I have no argument with the researchers who presented this abstract or the quality of their research.  They are “top drawer,” and highly regarded in the research and medical communities.  I do not dispute their methods or their findings as they reported them from … Continue reading →

A Deadly Leukemia Is Now A Chronic Disease

Thirty years ago, chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) was not what we today would call a chronic disease.  It was a disease that was initially simple to treat, but would progress over a couple of years to a much more severe illness that would most often not respond to treatment and would, in short order, lead to death.  Many of the victims were young folks in the primes of their lives.


I still remember vividly a young patient of mine who, when told that his disease was progressing, committed suicide rather than consider going through intensive chemotherapy that had little chance of success in prolonging his life and no chance in providing a cure.


Today, in the New England Journal of Medicine, a research report reminds us that this disease is now not only treatable, but in fact has become a model for the future treatment of many cancers. 


Chronic myelogenous leukemia is now truly a chronic disease.


The news itself is not new. 


Five years ago we were told of the remarkable effect of a new drug called Gleevec (imatinib), a targeted therapy, that in short order turned chronic leukemia into … Continue reading →