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Breast Cancer Diagnosis And Treatment: Can Women Trust It?

The news wasn’t good this week for women concerned about breast cancer.

First came the story that some women were diagnosed with breast cancer, very early stage, had treatment –- including disfiguring surgery -– and then found out they never had cancer in the first place. The pathologist goofed, maybe even a second pathologist also misread the biopsies.

How does this happen? Not surprisingly it comes back to the clinical experience of the doctor. Properly diagnosing breast cancer, whether through radiology scans or pathology biopsies is not always easy. And in many communities the general radiologists and pathologists just don’t have enough specialized experience. This leads to mistakes, especially when the suggestions of possible cancer are subtle and minute. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Andrew's Blog*

Government Decisions About Avandia And Preventive Services

An FDA advisory panel has voted that the diabetes drug Avandia (rosiglitazone) can remain on the market, but recommended further warnings associated with its use. The panel was divided, the New York Times reported, with 12 of 33 members saying the drug should be removed from the market, 10 voting to restrict sales and strengthen the warning label, 7 recommending only strengthening the warning label, and 3 voting for no change. One panel member abstained. (New York Times)

The White House yesterday announced which preventive services would be available at no charge to patients under the new healthcare legislation. Adult patients who choose a health plan after September 23 will receive mammograms, diabetes screening, and tobacco cessation counseling, among other services, at no increased cost, but insurers have said patients will eventually pay in the form of higher premiums, the Wall Street Journal reported. (Wall Street Journal)

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

For Patients, Does The FDA Play Fair?

They have a tough job, those government doctors, scientists, and bureaucrats who are charged with assessing the safety and effectiveness of proposed new medical products. As you know, they rely largely on studies presented by the applicants.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has the power to not approve a new drug or product or even pull it off the market. Right now it is considering limiting or pulling GlaxoSmithKline’s (GSK) diabetes drug, Avandia, because of newly discovered data that it may have caused heart attack in some patients –- data mysteriously not shown in GSK’s own studies. If the drug is pulled it will cost GSK billions of dollars in lost revenue but, from the FDA’s point-of-view, it will be protecting the public. And, after all, there are safer diabetes drugs on the market as alternatives. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Andrew's Blog*

Here We Go Again

I don’t know if I can do it this time.  A month ago, when it appeared that Congress had backed out of passing Health Care Reform legislation, I felt neither happy nor sad.  I didn’t know how I felt but this past Monday, after the following triad of events had unfolded, it became clear to me that I feel weary towards the whole healthcare reform process:

  • First, several states temporarily halted a rapacious rise in health insurance premiums from companies with quarterly profits last year in the billions of dollars.  Seriously, don’t these companies have PR firms?
  • Second, the Senate Finance Committee actually issued a drug warning and in this one act illuminated either a glaring problem with Congress or – far more concerning and unfortunately for us, more likely in this instance–some type of bias at the FDA.
  • Thirdly, the President called for a televised debate on health care between ‘both sides.’ Then, within days, he posted his own plan on the White House website.  It is a ten page summary I found hard to follow that left me with a troubling sense of déjà-vu.

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Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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