“… Comparing the Quality and Outcomes of Care at Competing Cancer Centers”

“Cancer!” Should you rush to a “major” cancer center?

The Modern Healthcare article noted “When it comes to cancer care, there is a huge disconnect between the possibilities of modern medicine and its day-to-day practice. As last fall’s troubling report from the Institute of Medicine noted, variation in oncology practice is wide; collection of quality and outcomes data is poor; and progress in learning what works best for any particular cancer remains slow and halting.”

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New Research Refutes Long-Held Antiviral Theory

A long-standing belief that mammals use the same potent antiviral molecules deployed by plants and invertebrates is being challenged by researchers at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

Their findings, published in the July 10, 2014, issue of Cell Reports, surprised many scientists who assumed that antiviral RNA Interference (RNAi) exists in humans as a natural result of evolution.

Scientists know that human cells, like cells in every living organism with a nucleus, encode and generate small RNAs, which influence our genetics. It is also known that mammals combat viruses with interferons—proteins manufactured by immune cells in response to pathogens.

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“The Rationale For Most (cancer) Screenings Are Strong If There Is A Good Test…”

“If there is a test but there’s problems with it, I often go over this with a patient and how to decide if it’s necessary.”

Add mammography to the list of cancer screenings where evidence has challenged “best practices.”

Dr. Sanjay Gupta of CNN reported in EveryDay Health that while early cancer detection can save lives, recent studies raise new doubts about the benefits of screening without considering the risks as well.

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“We Are Silently Irradiating Ourselves To Death.”

“… unless we change our current practices, 3 percent to 5 percent of all future cancers may result from exposure to medical imaging.”

CT, MRI, ultrasound, nuclear scan, PET scan – why not? Just to make sure.

An article in the New York Times noted: “ DESPITE great strides in prevention and treatment, cancer rates remain stubbornly high and may soon surpass heart disease as the leading cause of death in the United States. Increasingly, we and many other experts believe that an important culprit may be our own medical practices: Of course, early diagnosis thanks to medical imaging can be lifesaving. But there is distressingly little evidence of better health outcomes associated with the current high rate of scans. There is, however, evidence of its harms.”

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Cancer Patients May Learn That Some Of The Best Cancer Hospitals Are Off-limits

The New York Post reported “An Associated Press survey found examples coast to coast. Seattle Cancer Care Alliance is excluded by five out of eight insurers in Washington state’s insurance exchange. MD Anderson Cancer Center says it’s in less than half of the plans in the Houston area. Memorial Sloan-Kettering is included by two of nine insurers in New York City and has out-of-network agreements with two more”

“Doctors and administrators say they’re concerned. So are some state insurance regulators. In all, only four of 19 nationally recognized comprehensive cancer centers that responded to AP’s survey said patients have access through all the insurance companies in their state exchange”.

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Mount Sinai Scientists Appear on CBS This Morning

In February, CBS This Morning had a segment on Mount Sinai’s novel use of fruit flies to screen for personalized cancer drugs. Ross Cagan, PhD, Associate Dean of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, discussed how his laboratory replicates a patient’s tumor and implants it in a fruit fly. Then his team tests an arsenal of 840 drugs—all approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for other uses—to see if they shrink the tumor.

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Colon Cancer Myths

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Here are the most common myths about this disease that I hear from my patients.

Myth:

“I feel fine, I have no pain or feel any lumps- there is no way for me to have colon cancer”

Reality:

Most patients who underwent screening colonoscopy and a colon cancer were found did NOT have any symptoms. Most importantly, those are the cases that are curable! By the time symptoms developed, unfortunately it is often already too late. 91% of patients with cancer that were detected early are alive and well 5 years after diagnosis. But only 37% of all colorectal cancer are diagnosed at this stage- we can do better, this is the most preventable cancer with screening.

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