Monday, April 03, 2006

Continued Smoking Limits Chemotherapy Success

One of the most interesting things I've noticed about lung cancer patients is that many continue to smoke after their diagnosis. Many subscribe to the philosophy that they "might as well keep smoking" since they already have cancer.

But a new study, has debunked that thinking. In the linked article it is stated that continued nicotine use seriously reduced chemotherapy effectiveness. This even applies to smoking cessation products that contain nicotine.

I haven't had a chance to discuss this with our Med Oncs yet but it will be interesting to see if they use this information to attempt to convince all of their patients to cease smoking before chemotherapy begins.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

For Profit Cancer Centers

In a recent article, Business Week takes a look at a growing trend, for-profit cancer specific centers such as Cancer Treatment Centers of America. CTCA is based outside of Chicago and provides a service specifically geared to end stage cancer patients who have been given no other hope by their own Oncologists. Its not so much that they offer any treatment greater than everyone else but they offer what the patient has lost; HOPE.

What I find specifically interesting about the article is contained in the second to last paragraph,

" The privately held company eschews physician referrals and advertises to people with late-stage cancer, promising to do almost anything they want to combat the disease."

If you talk to any administrator, they will tell you that this as your sole business strategy will never work. But, yet it is for CTCA albeit on a national basis. It makes you wonder if you indeed inform the patient enough about your services through marketing can you circumvent the normal referral process. Our organization subscribes to the non-marketing strategy. It's like pulling teeth to get them to market to the public. What they don't understand is that cancer patients are probably the most informed patients in the marketplace. If marketing to the public didn't work, you wouldn't be seeing umpteen (southern colloquialism) ads for Viagra, Levitra, and Cialis.

But I digress.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Another Radiation Therapy Treatment Incident

In another unfortunate radiation incident, a 15 year old girl from Scotland who received Radiation Therapy for a rare brain tumor (pineoblastoma) was accidentally overdosed during her 17 treatments. It sounds as if she is already experiencing severe erythema. The amount of overdose has yet to be released.

These type of incidents are going to occur despite how much quality assurance is performed. Especially when a center like the Beatson Oncology Centre, where this occurred, that treats 6500 Radiation oncology patients a year on ten linacs. Most of the time something like this happens someone catches it while it can be corrected. But, like the incident at Moffitt in Tampa, sometimes it slips through the whole course. I've seen it happen before and it is amazing to see how many people can not pick up on the obvious.

It is terribly unfortunate for they young lady but is also devastating for the workers involved in this mistake. Their professional careers are irreparably damaged not to mention the personal dismay at the damage they caused to this young lady. People in Scotland are already calling for their dismissal.