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  • Research and Very Slow Progress

    Posted 7/28/2016 by v_intpal2

    This is a rather discouraging scientific article from Nature that does a good job of explaining why progress in cancer research is so slow and difficult. Not exactly uplifting reading for a Monday morning, but, for those of you who are interested in the science, it is an excellent read.

    Here is the introduction and then a link:

    On 3 March, two studies appeared online that offered 19 pages of gloomy reading for anyone interested in cancer. They focused on biological mole Read more... Comments (0)

  • Menopause and Cancer

    Posted 7/28/2016 by hhill

      It is rather amazing how little most women know about menopause until they get there. It is a completely natural part of life that is rarely discussed except by women of a certain age. Unless you have cancer and a treatment that plunges you into premature menopause: surgery, many chemotherapy drugs, hormonal therapies or ovarian suppression drugs. This happened to me when I was 44, and I was completely unprepared to be the first one of my friends to go through the experience.

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  • Does it Help to Find a Recurrence Early

    Posted 7/27/2016 by hhill

      This is a difficult and very emotionally-charged topic. The answer is complicated and varies a great deal among different kinds of cancer. Even more specifically, the specific cell biology matters a great deal. For breast cancer, and I know that many readers of this blog have that diagnosis, the dogma is that survival is not extended by finding a recurrence early. That is, you will live just as long if the recurrence is identified because of a symptom in March than you will if the recurrence is identified by a test the previous November. There are no very reliable blood markers for breast cancer recurrence, although there are markers (e.g. CEA and CA 25.27) that can he helpful in tracking the value of ongoing treatment for known metastatic disease--in some women. In some other women, the markers are not ever useful.

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  • Spirituality Improves Outcomes

    Posted 7/26/2016 by hhill

      It has long been clear to me that patients who have faith, who carry a belief system, have a somewhat easier time with cancer and pain and burdens. It does not seem to matter what the belief is; it surely does not matter what denomination or religion someone practices. The core values (at least to me) are the same, and the comfort in feeling supported by God or something bigger than we are is clearly invaluable.

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  • Perspective

    Posted 7/25/2016 by hhill

      It is not always easy to sustain a mature perspective on life.Virtually all of us want to live long and healthy lives, and we experience varying degrees of anger when that wish is challenged.Of course we want to be around to watch our grandchildren grow up, but that goal can feel pretty lucky when the next person in the support group has 2 year old twins herself and does not anticipate seeing them reach kindergarten. It feels scary and sad and awful to be diagnosed with cancer when we are in our 60s or 70s or 80s, but it is not unreasonable to pause for a second and be grateful that this news did not come to us thirty years earlier. 

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Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
330 Brookline Avenue
Boston, MA 02215

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