What ovarian cancer can teach us about medicine, as a whole

The New York Times has a story on problems with the treatment of ovarian cancer that holds lessons for many aspects of modern medicine. The big issue here: Local doctors, even local specialists, might not have the information necessary to properly treat patients who come in with problems those doctors don't have a lot of experience with. And those doctors don't always refer patients to people with more expertise. In a world with constantly changing information, how do you get that information to the people patients are most in contact with? In a world with more and more evidence available, how do you change traditions in the medical community that apply treatments based on "what my teachers did" and "what I've always done"? Big questions here, not a lot of answers.


  1. The internet, mediated by expert systems and interfaces like Watson, can bring evidence-based medicine to the common mortal, thereby rendering him/her less at the drop of a hat mortal.

  2. This is precisely what happened to my mother in 2007, who was under intensive treatment for ovarian cancer until she suffered a chemotherapy-related stroke, went into a coma, and died. Even her obn-gyn did not realize that she had cancer until after it had metastasized.

  3. Not sure if boingboing already posted on this, but there’s a company called MetaMed  http://metamed.com/ that, for $5,000, will actually do a literature search/research report to find treatments for specific patients based on the latest and best available evidence, and refer you to doctors capable of carrying them out. I have no ties whatsoever to MetaMed, but it is amazing what we know can be done and has been done, that no one is doing.

  4. I wasn’t diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome until I was in my late 40s, and that was only because my doctor was an osteopath and tuned in to those kinds of things.  And yet, I have dozens of major symptoms, none of which had an explanation until that point.

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