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Latest Posts

Counter-Intuitive Results: Several Cancer Screening Tests Don’t Improve Health Outcomes

Nearly forty years ago, President Richard Nixon famously declared a “War on Cancer” by signing the National Cancer Act of 1971. Like the Manhattan Project, the Apollo program that was then landing men on the Moon, and the ongoing (and eventually successful) World Health Organization-led initiative to eradicate smallpox from the face of the Earth, the “War on Cancer” was envisioned as a massive, all-out research and treatment effort. We would bomb cancer into submission with powerful regimens of chemotherapy, experts promised, or, failing that, we would invest in early detection of cancers so that they could be more easily cured at earlier stages.

It was in the spirit of the latter that the National Cancer Institute launched the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer (PLCO) Screening trial in 1992. This massive study, which eventually enrolled more than 150,000 men and women between age 55 and 74, was designed to test the widespread belief that screening and early detection of the most common cancers could improve morbidity and mortality in the long term. Not a few influential voices suggested that the many millions of dollars invested in running the trial might be better spent on programs to increase the use of these obviously-effective tests in clinical practice.

They were wrong. As of now, the PLCO study is 0-for-2. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Prepared Patient Forum: What It Takes Blog*

Should Elderly Men Be Screened For Prostate Cancer?

A study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology found that “that men in their seventies had prostate cancer screening nearly twice as often as men in their early fifties, who are more likely to benefit from prostate cancer detection and treatment.” An American Society for Clinical Oncology news release includes this quote:

“Our findings show a high rate of elderly and sometimes ill men being inappropriately screened for prostate cancer. We’re concerned these screenings may prompt cancer treatment among elderly men who ultimately have a very low likelihood of benefitting the patient and paradoxically can cause more harm than good,” said senior author Scott Eggener, MD, assistant professor of surgery at the University of Chicago. “We were also surprised to find that nearly three-quarters of men in their fifties were not screened within the past year. These results emphasize the need for greater physician interaction and conversations about the merits and limitations of prostate cancer screening for men of all ages.”

The US Preventive Services Task Force states that the current evidence is insufficient to assess the balance of benefits and harms of prostate cancer screening in men younger than age 75 years, and it recommends against screening for prostate cancer in men age 75 years or older.

*This blog post was originally published at Gary Schwitzer's HealthNewsReview Blog*

Prostate Cancer: What You Should Know

When Dennis Hopper died of prostate cancer at age 74, my husband asked me: “Hey, I thought prostate cancer is slow-growing and doesn’t kill men.”

Well, he’s right about it usually being slow-growing, but prostate cancer is still the second leading cause of cancer death in men. His question made me realize that there are some facts that everyone should know about prostate cancer. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at EverythingHealth*

Sedentary Kids: The Funniest Public Service Announcement (PSA) Video EVER

This is the funniest public service announcement I’ve seen in as long as I can remember. Congratulations to the creative communications team at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons for putting this together!


© American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

Back story: I met Sandra Gordon, Director of Public Relations, at the AMA Medical Communications Conference (where I was faculty) and where she presented this video. After the show I approached her to say how surprised many of us were that Orthopaedic Surgery was leading the way in creative PR – and that it was quite unexpected. The PSA had almost a hint of Monty Python humor to it.

She responded with out batting an eye: “Nobody expects the Spanish inquisition!”

How cool is Sandra?!

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 Cartoon

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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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