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The Mammogram Debate: Two Doctors Discuss Why It’s So Complicated

Dr. Avrum Bluming is a medical oncologist and clinical professor of medicine at the University of Southern California. He is also a dear friend, scientist, and careful analyzer of data. I asked him to help me understand the current mammogram guidelines debate, and what women (now faced with conflicting recommendations) should do about breast cancer screening. Please listen to his fascinating discussion captured here:

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What I learned is that the guidelines must be tailored to each woman’s unique situation. The variables that must be considered are incredibly complex, as breast cancer risk factors include everything from when and if one has given birth, to a history of smoking, drinking, overweight, breast cancer in the family and even the age of your parents when you were born. Beyond risk factors, new research suggests that some breast cancers spontaneously resolve without treatment, but our technology is not advanced enough to distinguish those from others that will go on to become life-threatening tumors – so we treat all cancers the same. Read more »

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

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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Unaccountable: A Book About The Underbelly Of Hospital Care

I met Dr. Marty Makary over lunch at Founding Farmers restaurant in DC about three years ago. We had an animated conversation about hospital safety the potential contribution of checklists to reducing medical errors and his upcoming book about the need for more transparency in the healthcare system. Marty was…

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