Monthly Archives: August 2010

The Unexpected Benefits Of Palliative Care

If a study in the current issue of the New England Journal of Medicine was a report about a new treatment that extended the lives of patients with advanced lung cancer by almost 3 months, the crowds would be cheering.  But it isn’t a study of a new chemotherapy drug, targeted therapy or vaccine.  And I doubt there are lots of cheers in the audience.


It’s much simpler than an expensive, complicated new treatment for a devastating disease.  It’s about starting palliative care to help patients deal with the symptoms from their disease and its treatment early in the course of that disease leading to a dramatic improvement in survival in a cancer that is almost always fatal.


Non-small cell lung cancer is a killer for many people.  Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in this country, although the numbers are declining with the decrease in smoking, especially among men.  But once diagnosed as having spread outside the primary area of the cancer, the outlook is grim and for most folks is less than one year.


That one year is difficult enough knowing that you have a fatal illness.  But the treatments for the disease-and the … Continue reading →

Your Waist and Your Health: One More Thing To Worry About

There they go again, trying to ruin my day.  The “they” in question are my epidemiology colleagues down the hall at our American Cancer Society offices in Atlanta. 


The topic a couple of weeks ago that got me going was an article they published suggesting that I had a higher chance of premature death because I sit at a desk most of the day.  Today’s “offense” was a report published in the Archives of Internal Medicine showing that the larger your waist size-for the most part, with a couple of exceptions-the greater your chance of premature death.  And even if your body mass index (BMI) was normal-which is a measure of your height relative to your weight, and is used to classify people as normal, overweight or obese-you could still have an increased chance of death if your paunch is, uh, oversized.





The study has garnered a lot of media attention, probably because of the increasing concern surrounding the impact of obesity in this country. 


As noted by the researchers, this is not a new topic.  We have known for some time that an increased waist size-40 inches for men and 35 for … Continue reading →