Less Chemo for Breast Cancer?

Nobody likes chemotherapy: not patients, and not oncologists. We’d all rather avoid it if we can – and now we’ve identified another group of women who can safely do without it.   Some early-stage breast cancers can spread throughout the body before the tumor is removed surgically– even before the cancer is diagnosed. Those small, spreading cells (called micrometastases) aren’t detectable by current technology. But micrometastases can seed… Continue reading

What is Convenient Cancer Care?

Our patients want and deserve convenience, but what is convenient? I thought about this recently while evaluating a hospital patient. She’d been diagnosed recently and so wanted a plan NOW that she’d driven two hours for an earlier appointment. She’d wrestled with all the associated questions – Where do I go? Who’ll drive me there?… Continue reading

Caregivers: Put on Your Own Mask First

You know those safety demonstrations at the beginning of a flight, where they go through the plane’s safety features? Remember what they always say about the oxygen masks? “If you’re with someone that needs assistance, always put on your own mask first.” You’re thinking that’s selfish maybe, but it’s critical advice – and not just… Continue reading

Clinical Trial Award

Getting the most advanced cancer treatment to patients requires that cancer doctors do two things: support the process that develops these treatments, and give their patients access to these trial-phase treatments.… Continue reading

Remembering Becky

I first got to know Becky through my wife, since she worked with Becky’s fiancée. They had bonded over a shared love of professional hockey, something that is not common in Wisconsin. We’d invited them to our home for a game between our two clubs in late 2006 – but it became the night everything… Continue reading

The Puppy

12 years ago the sweetest 3 year old girl gave my mom her favorite puppy. She told mom that when she feels bad, it always makes her feel better.  For the next 2 months that puppy was always within arms reach, and I truly believe it did make her feel better when many of the… Continue reading

Don’t Forget Uterine Cancer (even in pink October) 

Uterine cancer is the fourth most common cancer type in women – not that you’d know it from the (nonexistent) press coverage. Almost 3% of women will be diagnosed with endometrial cancer at some point during their lifetime.  It’s also called endometrial cancer since it usually starts in the inner lining of the uterus (called the endometrium). Most cases occur in women aged 45-74 and… Continue reading

Lymphomas – What are they?

Posted at regular intervals along our body like checkpoints on the border between hostile countries, our lymph nodes form a critical barricade against infection. These checkpoints are manned by lymph cells (aka lymphocytes) that come in two varieties: T-cells and B-cells. But sometimes instead of being the protectors, these cells go rogue and become cancers called lymphomas in… Continue reading

How do checkpoint inhibitors work, anyway?

Picture a common movie scenario: the police have the bad guys surrounded, locked down inside a building – but there are hostages in there too, and if the cops go in shooting they won’t be able to tell the victims from the villains. “Die Hard”, “Inside Man”, and “The Dark Knight Rises” have all done… Continue reading

Cancer Pain

Whenever I meet a new cancer patient, especially one with incurable cancer, pain always comes up in the conversation – whether they have it or not. It’s the most commonly reported symptom of cancer, and it’s also one of the most widely feared.   Most patients with advanced stage cancer do, in fact, experience pain; 75-90% according… Continue reading