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  • More Women May be Able to Avoid Chemotherapy

    Posted 8/30/2016 by hhill

      A very important study was released last week in The New England Journal of Medicine. Researchers studied women with newly diagnosed early stage breast cancer who were in a gray area re the value of/need for chemotherapy in addition to hormonal/endocrine therapy. All of the women had ER positive disease. Their tumors were evaluated by the Mammaprint genomic test that examines the genetic structure of the specific cancer cell. In the United States, the Oncotype DX, a similar test, is used much more frequently while the Mammaprint is widely used in Europe. Of note, these tests cost several thousand dollars, and insurance coverage varies.

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  • Shifting Endurance

    Posted 8/29/2016 by hhill

      I had to sit and stare at the computer screen for a few minutes before coming up with a title for this entry. Shifting Endurance seems to capture the flavor of a wonderful essay by Susan Gubar and my own thoughts that she stimulated with her writing.

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  • CancerNet Resources

    Posted 8/26/2016 by hhill

      Although I often write about and refer you to their materials, you may not have really noticed Cancer Net, the patient information arm of ASCO. Identifying accurate and reliable internet sources of information can be tricky, and this is one of the best. There are certainly others that are specific to one cancer type or general, but there is nothing that is more extensive, user friendly, and helpful.

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  • Has the Cancer Come Back

    Posted 8/25/2016 by hhill
    This is really it: the crux of the whole experience. Is the cancer back? Does that back pain or persistent cough or stomach cramps mean something terrible or is it another "normal" ache or pain?  Having had cancer turns us all into hypochondriacs, and we become very (? too much?) aware of our bodies. If you don't already know it, here is the most important and, usually, comforting thing to remember: Live by the "Two Week Rule". With the obvious exception of things like you think you may be having a heart attack, our doctors generally suggest that we wait for two weeks before calling with a worry. Most things are long gone before two weeks. If the ache or pain or whatever persists for two weeks, go ahead and call--but remind yourself that most things are not cancer!
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  • Workplace Issues

    Posted 8/24/2016 by hhill

      One of the first questions for most people diagnosed with cancer (coming shortly after: "Am I going to die?") is "Will I be able to keep working?". Obviously there is no single answer. That decision depends on the treatment, the demands of the job, the relative support available in the workplace, possible flexibility of schedule, finances. I have known people who worked right through quite rigorous treatments, with a little time off as needed to be here for infusions or appointments, and others who quickly decided that the right choice was time away from work. To some extent, the choice about "time away" is a luxury. If you don't get paid unless you show up, it is more difficult to choose a leave.

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Cancer Center
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
330 Brookline Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
617-667-1900


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