Cancer survivors everywhere are nodding in agreement today: "chemo brain" is real, as those of us who have experienced the cognitive damage associated with chemotherapy already know. Memory loss, problems with concentration and attention, speech and writing difficulties, even problems with everyday math or number identification are common during and long after chemo ends. But now, researchers understand a little more of the how and why.
As noted in my previous Boing Boing post, a new study presented this week at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) used PET/CT scans to show physiological evidence of chemo brain, a common side effect in patients undergoing chemotherapy for cancer treatment.
The team led by Dr. Rachel A. Lagos at the West Virginia University School of Medicine and West Virginia University Hospitals in Morgantown, W.V. sought to identify the effect of chemotherapy on brain function, rather its effect on the brain's appearance. By using PET/CT, they were able to assess changes to the brain's metabolism after chemotherapy, and found measurable physiological changes.
In a group of 128 breast cancer patients, neuroradiology analysis software was used to calculate brain metabolism within 63 brain regions. Results were clinically correlated with documented patient history, neurologic examinations, and chemotherapy regimens. Read the rest
Why are women first to pay for every crisis? In every society, capitalist, socialist, or transition? It's because the bodies of women are expendable.
I always noticed how women over eighty in Turin looked incredibly well, beautiful and loved and taken care of: desirable, because old and valuable. I connected this to Italy's long-established and sophisticated health care system. Italian hospitals were famous for methods which preserved the dignity of the patients, in tumor cures, especially breast cancer: the "invisible mastectomy" was invented in Milan. Rather than simply intervening in crisis, they were good at illness prevention and attentive follow-ups.
The economic crisis and financial harassment of Italy has reached this safe haven of health and dignity. In Turin, one of the best clinics for cure and prevention of breast cancer is about to be closed. The patients are on the streets, their appointments cannot be scheduled, they are paying for their urgent operations because their doctors cannot help them. The doctors are on the streets too. Read the rest
Oncologist and cancer-woo-debunker Orac has more on the legal details that allow this man to keep practicing medicine in Texas: "the dubious doctor known as Stanislaw Burzynski, who charges desperate patients with advanced (and usually incurable) cancer tens and even hundreds of thousands of dollars to participate in his 'clinical trials' of antineoplastons, compounds that he claims to have isolated from urine and that he now represents as a promising new treatment that can do much better than existing therapies with much less toxicity, even though there’s no evidence that it can."
The legal underpinnings of the case will be interesting to some, and too tedious for others, but here's the tl;dr from Orac's post: the outcome does not make the case that Burzynski's "science" is valid. The board simply found that, "as a matter of law, the TMB couldn’t bring action against Burzynski on the basis of actions performed by doctors under his supervision."
Robert Blaskiewicz has written extensively about the epic quackery of one of the most well-known "cancer cure" promosters, Stanislaw Burzynski (left).
The Texas-based "alternative cure practitioner" fails to liberate patients from cancer, but has a remarkable talent for liberating them from their money.
Today, Blaskiewicz shares an update on the Texas Medical Board's long-running prosecution of Burzynski.
The short version: He's free to continue exploiting cancer patients there.
Come to think of it, a ham sandwich could probably get a medical license in Texas, these days.
"An important sign of quackery is the depiction of the doctor as a lone genius fighting against special interests trying to suppress crusading work," writes Blaskiewicz— but Burzynski's associates appear to be engaging in suppression, themselves. Blaskiewicz writes about the "thuggery of some of his supporters (which included the creation of a website at the same IP as burzynskipatientgroup.org that defamed numerous skeptics, myself included, as pederasts)" to distract from Burzynski's decades-long failure to produce "a single convincing study" about his treatment's efficacy.
While Burzynski fails to liberate his patients from cancer, he has a remarkable talent for liberating them from their money.
So-called "rogue surgeon" Ian Paterson has been suspended by Britain's General Medical Council after accusations he performed "unnecessary or inappropriate" breast operations on over a thousand women in the UK.
Investigators claim he misdiagnosed at least 450 of those women with breast cancer when they were in fact cancer-free, performing unnecessary mastectomies and lumpectomies, and placing them on brutal treatment regimens when they had no cancer to treat.
"Once lymphedema develops, it is permanent," says my friend Dr. Deanna Attai, a breast surgeon in Burbank, CA. "Physical therapy can help minimize swelling and other complications, but there is currently no cure. Early recognition and prompt treatment definitely makes a difference." Read the rest
A wonderful article by Liz Szabo in USA Today on "I heart boobies," "save the ta-tas," and all those other horrible sexualized breast cancer campaigns that raise dubious funds for dubious goals and leave those of us who have the disease feeling demeaned. There is nothing sexy about breast cancer, and Szabo does a fantastic job in this piece explaining why. Above, one of the worst such campaigns I have ever seen.
One such example: the cancer drug Avastin. Clinical trials suggested the drug might double the time breast cancer patients could live with their disease without getting worse. But follow-up studies found no improvements in progression-free survival, overall survival or patients' quality of life. As a result, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2011 withdrew its approval to use the drug to treat breast cancer, though it is still approved to treat several other types of cancer.
With early glowing reports, Ioannidis said, "one should be cautious and wait for a better trial."
Snip from Liz Szabo's USA Today profile: Read the rest