Category: Cancer

makayla-620

An aboriginal girl dies of leukemia: Parental “rights” versus the right of a child to medical care

One topic that keeps recurring and obligating me to write about it consists of critically analyzing stories of children with cancer whose parents, either on their own or at the behest of their child, stop or refuse chemotherapy or other treatment. It is, sadly, a topic that I’ve been discussing for nearly a decade now, starting first on my not-so-super-secret other blog...

/ January 26, 2015
Ossuary_dice_in_set

Is cancer due mostly to “bad luck”?

One of the more difficult conversations to have with a patient as a cancer doctor occurs when a patient, recently informed of her diagnosis of, for example, breast cancer, asks me, “Why did I get this? What caused it?” What almost inevitably follows is an uncomfortable conversation in which explanations of the multiple known causes of breast cancer do not satisfy the...

/ January 5, 2015

Risks of CAM Treatments for Cancer

“What’s the harm?” is an insidious idea when used as a justification for unscientific medical treatments. The argument is typically put forward with the assumption that direct physical harm is the only type of harm that can result from such treatments, so as long as they aren’t toxic there is no downside to trying them. Harm comes in many forms, however: delayed...

/ December 10, 2014

The Central Dogma of Alternative Medicine

Steve still happens to be galavanting about Australia, spreading science, skepticism, and, of course, science-based medicine Down Under. Given that, he has been unable to produce new content for today. Never one to let such an opportunity pass, I decided to take advantage in order to do a little shameless self promotion. A week and a half ago, I gave a talk...

/ December 3, 2014
Society of Integrative Oncology

Selling “integrative oncology” as a monograph in JNCI

The Society of Integrative Oncology publishes its "evidence-based" guidelines for the supportive care of breast cancer patients, along with a whole lot of musings on integrating quackery with medicine. But are the guidelines science-based? I think you know the answer to that one.

/ December 1, 2014

Recent Developments and Recurring Dilemmas in Cancer Screening: Colon, Lung, Thyroid

A new stool DNA test was recently approved by the FDA for colon cancer screening. My first reaction was “Yay! I hope it’s good enough to replace all those unpleasant, expensive screening colonoscopies.” But of course, things are never that simple. I wanted to explain the new test for our readers; but before I could start writing, some other issues in cancer...

/ November 18, 2014

Ontario fails to protect the life of a First Nations girl with cancer

A few weeks ago, Steve Novella invited me on his podcast, The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe, to discuss a cancer case that has been in the news for several months now. The case was about an 11-year-old girl with leukemia who is a member of Canada’s largest aboriginal community. Steve wrote about this case nearly a month ago. Basically, the girl’s...

/ November 17, 2014
langer cbs this

Eminent Harvard psychologist, mother of positive psychology, New Age quack?

Be less curious about people and more curious about ideas. – Marie Curie’s advice to journalists Harvard psychologist Ellen Langer was on CBS This Morning News explaining plans for a psychosocial intervention study with women with Stage IV metastatic breast cancer. The project would attempt to shrink women’s tumors by shifting their mental perspective back to before they were diagnosed. Seeing her...

/ November 16, 2014

Blaming breast cancer on autism

Gayle DeLong has been diagnosed with what she refers to as “autism-induced breast cancer”. She’s even given it an abbreviation, AIBC. Unfortunately, as you might be able to tell by the name she’s given her breast cancer, she is also showing signs of falling into the same errors in thinking with respect to her breast cancer as she clearly has with respect...

/ November 9, 2014
Rick Snyder at 2011 Michigan Gubernatorial Inauguration

Using the fear of Ebola to promote the placebo legislation that is “right to try”

Libertarians and free market fundamentalists generally detest the FDA and want to dramatically decrease its power in the belief that the free market can guarantee the safety of drugs better than a government agency that requires strong scientific evidence of efficacy and safety before approval. Not surprisingly, they're at it again, this time in the service of promoting "right-to-try" laws and using...

/ November 2, 2014