With all the talk about COVID vaccinations, cancer patients have to be asking what it means for them. And aside from some general reassurances, there is a lot we don’t know about how effective those vaccines will be in patients with cancer. What we do know that many are at risk of severe adverse outcomes should they become infected with the virus itself and vaccines are one among several strategies to keep patients with cancer safe from the ravages of COVID and its consequences. There are a couple of important points to keep in mind when we talk about patients… Read More »COVID-19, Vaccines, and Cancer: We Don’t Have All The Answers
Health equity has been top of mind for many this past year, in large part because of the impact of the pandemic especially on people of color and underserved communities. Now that we recognize that health equity is not a reality for far too many, the question remains what are we actually going to do to make certain that everyone has the tools they need to pursue a life of health and healthy behaviors? And more specifically, what are we going to do in the cancer care sphere—from prevention to diagnosis to treatment to end-of-life care—to address the glaring inequities… Read More »An Actionable Framework to Address Cancer Care Disparities: A Call To Action
Getting Back To Cancer Screening: It’s Time To Give Priority To Those Most In Need, Not Those With The Loudest Voice
“How will be certain coming out the pandemic that those who should be a priority for cancer screenings based on risk and need in fact get to the head of the line? And how will we be certain that those who lack voice in the healthcare system are heard and their needs addressed?” That was the question I asked frequently a year ago as we went into the initial shutdown phase as a result of COVID-19. It was a time when there was fear and a lack of understanding about the pandemic, when resources had to be shifted to acute… Read More »Getting Back To Cancer Screening: It’s Time To Give Priority To Those Most In Need, Not Those With The Loudest Voice
We are facing a surge in corona virus cases. Hospitals are at their limits throughout the United States. Nurses, doctors, hospital staffs are overwhelmed. They are tired, and relief is not in sight. Does that mean we will start seeing health care rationed, especially for cancer patients whose prognosis may be uncertain? Sadly, that may be the case over the next several weeks if we don’t reverse our current course to disaster. During the early days of the COVID19 pandemic one of my worst fears was the possibility that cancer patients could not get hospital treatment if needed as a… Read More »Does COVID Winter Mean Rationing Care For Those With Cancer?
Cancer advocacy is not often top of mind, even for patients and families facing active diagnoses and treatments for cancer. However, with the added impact of COVID-19 on our health and well being, advocacy and service in the cancer space is becoming more important than ever. That is one of the messages that came from a webinar I participated in this morning on “Cancer Care Patient Advocacy Perspectives” as part of a series of discussions being presented over the course of several months by the Association for Value Based Cancer Care. Organizations providing advocacy and service to those with cancer… Read More »Cancer Advocacy: A Precious Resource In A Time Of Immense Needs
16 million cancer survivors in the United States, growing every year. Success stories we never would have imagined even a decade ago. And yet, when it comes to genuinely understanding the impacts of cancer treatments and what happens over the long term to young and older survivors alike, we are woefully uniformed and under-prepared—and as a nation don’t have a unified plan to address the issue. That’s my take away nugget from a two day workshop just completed on “Addressing the Adverse Consequences of Cancer Treatment,” convened by the National Cancer Policy Forum, which is part of the National Academies… Read More »It’s Time To Address The Needs Of Cancer Survivors
A recent conversation among a group of physicians gave me a fair amount of distress and discomfort. The topic was an unproven treatment for COVID-19, the discomfort was the disinformation—in my opinion—being shared, and the distress was the fact that the discussion likely reflected what some doctors are actually doing for the treatment of patients who are infected with the corona virus. Evidence was left at the doorstep. As I reflected on the conversation I realized it was not unlike what I have experienced over decades as a medical oncologist, especially in years past where there was literally very little… Read More »Unproven Treatments in COVID-19: Why Do They Persist?
This may be one of the most important advances in cancer treatment this year, and almost no one in the major media has reported it, as best I can tell: Osimertinib (trade name Tagrisso™) made a huge difference in outcomes for patients with early stage EGFR-biomarker positive lung cancer when used as adjuvant (preventive) therapy after primary treatment (complete surgical resection in all patients; adjuvant chemotherapy in some). When I say huge, I mean huge: EGFR+ patients with stage IB to IIIC non-small cell lung cancer (the most common type of lung cancer) had a close to 90% survival at… Read More »A Major Advance In Lung Cancer Treatment: Does Anyone Know About It?