The Dual Realities of Breast Cancer Screening

More and more studies are telling us that breast cancer screens lead to unnecessary treatment. I think it all boils down to your focal point, population vs. individual. Medical recommendations based upon population-level outcomes differ from those based upon individual outcomes. The numbers tell us that the screening often does more damage than good.

When Found Early Doesn't Translate Into Early Action

Screening Saves Lives. We’re bombarded with the message. Colon cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer, bowel cancer, cervical cancer, you name it cancer, heart tests, blood cholesterol tests, on and on… so long as we screen we catch it early and we survive. For better or worse, that is the message seared into my cells.


Every year, there are more and more stories about young women, many not yet mothers, who are pursuing genetic testing and joining a growing Club of Previvors. As I read their stories, I am deeply struck by just how different the world now is for women wishing to explore their genetic cancer risk and to act on behalf of their health. When I and my family underwent testing, it was as part of a pilot study. There was not yet insurance coverage for the testing.

Riding the Mammogram Guideline Roller Coaster

Have you made your personal peace with the 2009 U.S. Preventative Services Task Force recommendations that annual breast screening should begin at age 50, rather than the previously recommended age of 40? Well, not so fast.

Here comes another set of recommendations, this time brought to you by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). The ACOG is recommending that doctors should offer all women in their 40s the chance to get annual mammograms.

What Do You Expect at 89?

I’ve never been a passive adult patient. I refuse to accept the medical preconception of my body as a vesicle-in-waiting for disease. I never accept a quick prescription symptom fix in lieu of thorough exploration and diagnosis from the doctor. I have more experience than I ever wished for in advocating for myself within our health care system. So naturally, when my 89-yr-old mother developed debilitating pain in her back, I took it upon myself to be by her side as she pursued diagnosis and care of her health condition.

New Criteria for T-Cell Lymphoma Diagnosis

A group of Italian researchers have discovered new diagnostic criteria to differentiate peripheral T-cell lymphomas (PTCLs).

They present these findings in the August 2010 issue of the American Journal of Pathology.

PTCLs comprise a group of rare and aggressive non-Hodgkin lymphomas that develop from T-cells in different stages of maturity. These diseases have a poor prognosis, with a 5-year survival rate of around 25%.

New research on Preventing Lymphoma Relapse

Long-term treatment with anti-cancer medication Rituxan, produced by Swiss laboratory Roche, can cut the recurrence of follicular lymphoma in some patients by half, a new study said.

A slow-growing form of blood cancer that usually develops in the lymph nodes, follicular lymphoma is one of the most commonly occurring in a group of diseases known as non-Hodgkins lymphomas.

"These findings provide hope for the way we manage this disease," said lead author Gilles Salles of the University of Lyon.

Next up on the cancer continuum: Overdiagnosis

Here's a 1938 ad by the American Society for the Control of Cancer, issued a year after the formation of the National Cancer Institute. And another further down by the same organization, which would eventually become the American Cancer Society. They promoted early detection as the sine qua non of cancer survivorship, a motif that played steady for decades and decades.

A tale of two T-cells

A disclaimer: I'm not a pathologist, and I doubt anyone reading this is a pathologist either. I don't assume that we will all understand pathology by the end of this blog. I'm merely using a pedestrian example to make an important point.

Newly Diagnosed? Receive Support from a Peer Volunteer

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) does some pretty neat things. As the world's largest voluntary health organization dedicated to funding blood cancer research, education, and patient services, LLS's mission is to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families.