Monthly Archives: November 2007

How Dangerous Are CT Scans?

We have a tendency in this country to assume that advances in health care technology are good, and always beneficial for patient care. 


An article in this week’s New England Journal of Medicine which discusses the possible long term adverse effects from CT scans rightly points out that sometimes we ignore the potential for risks associated with those technologies, at our own peril.


The premise is reasonably straight forward: CT scans are X-ray devices, and they deliver a substantial amount of radiation when compared to more traditional forms of x-rays.   The problem is that this radiation may cause cancers in some patients. 


The amount of radiation in a single CT scan, according to the authors, is not out of line with radiation dosages sustained by survivors of the atomic bombs dropped in Japan during World War II.  And, from studies that have been very carefully done, we know that there was an increased risk of cancer in those survivors at those doses of radiation.


The authors state that based on comparable risk estimates along with information on CT scan usage from 1991 through 1996, about 0.4% (or 4 in 1000) of all cancers … Continue reading →

Andrew Jackson


This has been a sad week, and there have been many tears at our office since Andrew Jackson passed away last Wednesday.  His funeral is tomorrow, and I am about to start my journey back to Atlanta so I can join many of my friends to offer solace to his parents and family in their time of sorrow.


Andrew is the son of one of my colleagues here at our National Home Office in Atlanta. 


Ron Jackson is more than a co-worker.  He is a friend and a presence, whose smile and good nature has always been so special to many of us.  He was always proud of his family, and devoted to his wife, Angela, their daughter Raegan, and of course, their son Andrew.  Our conversations were often about promises and the future, about education and hope.


Their family’s journey began a couple of years ago when Andrew, at the tender age of two years old was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma.


Many of us first met Andrew at one of our “all-staff meetings,” when Ron shared his story with us shortly after Andrew was diagnosed. 


Here was

Continue reading →

The Great American Smokeout: Smell The Flowers

As I mentioned in my last blog, I am attending the American Medical Association House of Delegates meeting in Honolulu.  It is early in the morning, and I am looking out over the ocean, with Diamondhead in the distance.


There is no getting around the fact that this is a very beautiful island.  And, there is no getting around the fact–in stark contrast to last year when this meeting was held in Las Vegas—that cigarette smoke is far removed from the scene.


It leads me to reflect on the thought that with so many beautiful places to see and things to do in life why someone would consciously choose not to do everything possible to improve their health and enjoy life?


Our 2007 Great American Smokeout is just around the corner this Thursday, November 15, so maybe it’s time for you to ask yourself that same question if you happen to be a smoker.


I should point out that I am not so certain that everyone who uses tobacco products consciously chooses to smoke or use other forms of tobacco. 


This is not a matter of “free will”.  It … Continue reading →

Skin Cancer And The Fashion Editors: Success Story

My wife and I have just arrived in Hawaii to attend the American Medical Association House of Delegates meeting being held in Honolulu today through next Tuesday.


You may recall that last year at this time we were in Las Vegas, where the cigarette smoke in the casinos was (and remains) a major irritant.


Well, it’s hard to be here in this land of sun without thinking about a topic that is also near and dear to our hearts, and that is sun exposure and the risk of skin cancer.


Skin cancer is, in fact, ubiquitous, especially among older Americans like me.


The actual number of skin cancers diagnosed in the United States every year is difficult to determine, since it is not a figure that is closely tracked the way that breast and lung cancers are, as examples.


The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2007 there will be more than 1 million cases of basal cell or squamous cell skin cancer diagnosed in this country.  Most of these cancers will be highly curable.  But it is important to remember that, although curable, their treatment can be difficult and at times disfiguring, … Continue reading →

Access To Care Is Not About “Socialized Medicine”

It’s no secret that the American Cancer Society, in conjunction with its sister advocacy organization the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, has recently embarked on an ambitious campaign to raise awareness of the problems with access to health care in this country.


I previously wrote in detail about this campaign when it was launched in mid-September.   It was founded on four core principles that define our need to provide meaningful health insurance for all Americans.  We have called these principles “The 4 A’s,” which set standards for health insurance that is adequate, available, affordable and administratively simple.


When looked at through the view of the patient with cancer, the sad fact is that many people in this country simply do not have access to the health care they need at a critical time in their lives.


I guess I am not surprised that the purpose of this campaign has been distorted by some to forward their own agendas, through misrepresentations of the goals of this campaign.


One recent blog posting begins by addressing what the blogger interprets as media bias in dealing with the recent pronouncement by one of the presidential candidates that … Continue reading →