Monthly Archives: November 2012

Breast Cancer Screening: The Search For Truth

 We are on a search for truth, but will we ever find it? That summarizes how I feel after reading an article in today’s New England Journal of Medicine, which once again raises the question of how much screening mammography contributes to the progress we have made in reducing deaths from breast cancer in the United States, and by inference, in other parts of the world.

The research paper-written by Dr. Gilbert Welch and Dr. Archie Bleyer, two highly regarded researchers-concludes that over the past 30+ years, screening mammography has contributed modestly, at best, in the progress we have made in decreasing death rates from breast cancer.  In contrast, based on their analyses, the doctors conclude that much of the gains we have seen are due to better treatment. An additional observation is that 31 percent of the women diagnosed and treated for breast cancer in 2008 – that’s more than 70,000 women – were in fact treated unnecessarily, since if left alone or not diagnosed their cancers would never have caused them a problem during their lifetime. In contrast, they say, these women have endured surgery, perhaps radiation and chemotherapy, all of which have serious consequences and in … Continue reading →

In A Moment of Despair, A New Appreciation Of The Strength Of Cancer Survivors

This past Saturday I was sitting on an airplane on my way to a far off destination for a meeting preceded by a couple of days of rest and relaxation.

In and of itself, nothing particularly special about that except that maybe a couple of folks will be jealous. But to me, right now it is an incredible moment, the culmination of a lot of hope and a lot of prayer that I would get to this place on this day. And with that hope and prayer, there is a lot of life-learning that got me here.

About two months ago I wrote a somewhat tongue in cheek blog about being back at work. I had some surgeries to replace several joints (three, in fact) and was thrilled to be back at work, pain free and functional.

But as life would have it, my joy was premature. Shortly after I wrote that blog, I began a journey that I hope few will have to travel. And it isn’t over yet. [more]

The details would bore you (I assure you I have bored many friends who have asked). The short version is that after I wrote that blog, and two … Continue reading →

A Moment Of Reflection As The Pink Of Breast Cancer In October Gives Way To The Reality of Lung Cancer In November

Now that we are saying goodbye to the pink of October as we move onward from breast cancer awareness month, let us welcome the month of November, when we will shift our attention to lung cancer.

An article I read this past week posted on “Fair Warning” highlighted these issues, using breast cancer and lung cancer as a frame of reference. It carefully and in my personal opinion very professionally looked at the differences. Not casting blame, not failing to report both sides of the story, the author concisely pointed out how the way we relate to these two cancers is so fundamentally different.

In October we are awash in pink. Sometimes it seems the whole world is “pinked.”  Breast cancer is a passionate and compassionate topic, one that touches so many aspects of our sensitivities and sensibilities. It is a disease which frightens many women. It is a disease worthy of our efforts to find a preventive strategy that is acceptable and a treatment that will provide a cure. It is a disease which in our minds is almost always curable, if only we find it early. And-please keep this in mind-it is a disease where the perception … Continue reading →