Tag: surgery

You’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer. How soon do you need treatment?

A new year is upon us yet again, and Science-Based Medicine has been in existence for eight years now. It seems only yesterday that Steve Novella approached me to ask me to be a contributor. Our part-serious, part-facetious predictions for 2016 notwithstanding, one thing about 2016 is certain: I will almost certainly encounter some form of cancer quackery or other and deconstruct...

/ January 4, 2016

Worshiping at the altar of the Cult of the Brave Maverick Doctor

One of my favorite television shows right now is The Knick, as I described before in a post about medical history. To give you an idea of how much I’m into The Knick, I’ll tell you that I signed up for Cinemax for three months just for that one show. (After its second season finale airs next Friday, I’ll drop Cinemax until...

/ December 14, 2015
Yes, it's true that placebos are just as powerful as homeopathy. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean what believers in integrative medicine think it does.

Should placebos be used in randomized controlled trials of surgical interventions?

Trials of new experimental drugs frequently compare them to placebo, particularly when there is a large subjective component to the disease being treated, such as pain. In contrast, placebo-controlled trials are rarely undertaken in surgery, mainly because it's been considered ethically dicey to do sham surgery on one group. Should this change? Should we be more open to doing randomized, placebo-controlled surgery...

/ May 25, 2015

Breast cancer myths: No, antiperspirants do not cause breast cancer

Four weeks ago, I wrote a post in which I explained why wearing a bra does not cause breast cancer. After I had finished the post, it occurred to me that I should have saved that post for now, given that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The reason is that, like clockwork, pretty much every year around this time articles touting...

/ October 6, 2014
The Knick

Medicine past, present, and future: Star Trek versus Dr. Kildare and The Knick

I love the new Cinemax series The Knick, which is set in 1900 and portrays a brilliant maverick surgeon named Dr. John Thackery on the cutting edge of medicine at the time. I also love Star Trek's Dr. "Bones" McCoy and have recently come to like the old radio show featuring Dr. Kildare. Looking at how the three shows portray medicine in...

/ September 15, 2014

When urgency to cure beats research ethics, bad things happen

Editor’s note: Just for your edification, here’s a “bonus” post. True, you might have seen this recently elsewhere, but it’s so appropriate for SBM that I couldn’t resist sharing it with those of you who might not read the other source where this was published recently. 🙂 I’ve written a lot about Stanislaw Burzynski and what I consider to be his unethical...

/ August 26, 2013

The continuum of surgical research in science-based medicine

Editor’s note: Three members of the SBM blogging crew had a…very interesting meeting on Friday, one none of us expected, the details of which will be reported later this week–meaning you’d better keep reading this week if you want to find out. (Hint, hint.) However, what that means is that I was away Thursday and Friday; between the trip and the various...

/ April 5, 2010

Halsted: The Father of Science-Based Surgery

One (dark and stormy?) night in 1882, a critically ill 70 year old woman was at the verge of death at her daughter’s home, suffering from fever, crippling pain, nausea, and an inflamed abdominal mass. At 2 AM, a courageous surgeon put her on the kitchen table and performed the first known operation to remove gallstones. The patient recovered uneventfully. The patient...

/ March 9, 2010
Petty Officer 1st Class Freddy Mejia, a corpsmen with Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 2, inspects a cut on Khalid's forehead in Now Zad, May 19. Khalid, a young Afghan boy, fell off of a motorcycle the day before and injured his head. While on patrol, Marines spotted the boy and took him to the corpsmen to inspect the bandage. Mejia, a 30-year-old native of Puerto Rico, determined he could help the boy, cleaned the wound and applied a fresh bandage. The village has an Afghan doctor, but Marines still provide medical care when needed. (Official U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Ned Johnson)

Military Medicine in Iraq

 Doctors get a lot of flak these days without ever going near a battle zone. They are bombarded with accusations of not caring about their patients, of being shills for Big Pharma, of being motivated by money, of killing patients with medical errors and drug side effects. In addition, they are bombarded with claims that non-scientific medical systems (so-called alternative medicine, from...

/ October 27, 2009

Not Treating – A Neglected Option

One of the criticisms of modern medicine is that doctors prescribe too many pills. That’s true. Patients and doctors sometimes get caught up in a mutual misunderstanding. The patient assumes that he needs a prescription, and the doctor assumes that the patient wants a prescription. But sometimes patients don’t either need or want a prescription. I’ll use myself as an illustration. I...

/ June 17, 2008