Second Opinions Become More Important As Health Care Reform Moves Forward

Today’s New York Times has an excellent article about the challenges of diagnosing breast cancer in its early stages.

The article focuses on issues related to a type of breast cancer (Ductal Carcinoma In Situ, or DCIS), but it also raises a couple of really important issues of which every patient should be aware:

  • Misdiagnoses occur relatively frequently:
    • The article mentions a 2002 study involving the review of 340 breast cancer cases where “7.8 percent of them had errors serious enough to change plans for surgery“. (emphasis added)
    • The article also cites a 2007-2008 study involving the review of 597 breast cancer cases where “discrepancies” were found in 141 cases (23.6%) and 27 cases (4.5%) were misdiagnosed altogether. (emphasis added)

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Taking the “BATTLE” to lung cancer with tumor markers and targeted therapies

The treatment of cancer is evolving quickly. Up until recently most cancer patients were given standard chemotherapy regimens based on the location of the tumor. Recent research, however, has shown that all cancers have distinct genetic “signatures” and that cancers from the same anatomic location can respond differently to the standard chemotherapy based on the genetic make-up of the tumor. Researchers have started using information about genetic “tumor markers” to tailor cancer treatment and guide the use of a new generation of “targeted” therapies.

In April, a team of researchers at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston published the results of the BATTLE (Biomarker Integrated Approaches of Targeted Therapy For Lung Cancer Elimination) study, the first lung cancer trial to guide targeted treatment based on molecular signatures in tumor biopsies.

In summary the study involved:

  • Stage IV non-small cell lung cancer patients
  • Patients who had received at least one prior therapy for the cancer
  • Testing the lung cancer samples for a number of tumor markers
  • Using information from the tumor marker studies to guide therapy

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Team Healogica Interviewed On The Stupid Cancer Show

On December 14th our friend, Matt Zachary, founder of Stupid Cancer, invited me and my partner, Ed Shin, over to his studios to be interviewed on the Stupid Cancer Show. We talked about clinical trials, health care innovation, and a bunch of other fun stuff. Thanks for the opportunity, Matt, and keeping repping for young adults with cancer!