Cancer Voices – ASCO

The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) has the annual scientific conference every year in Chicago. This year too the meeting was held and I attended a session called ASCO Voices.

This featured a variety of personal narratives and perspectives to expand views of oncology, medicine, and the world — from big ideas to personal passions. These lightning talks offer a break from the science and an opportunity to reflect on personal stories and experiences.

The session was held in the Arie Crown Theater at McCormick Place in Chicago. Each ASCO Voices presentation is 5 – 7 minutes. No podium and no slides; just a story and a stage. Brilliant talks. Worth listening to the sessions.

ASCO Voices Talk

Monica Morrow, MD, FASCO
Surgery Is Never Elegant When Women Are in the Operating Room

Yehoda M. Martei, MD, MSCE
Whose Breast is it Anyway? Breast Cancer and Sexuality in Sub-Saharan Africa

Ashley Sumrall, MD, FACP
I Promised

Ishwaria Subbiah, MD MS
Doing Everything

Scott Capozza, MS, PT
The Obligation of the Cured

Cancer and our Microbiome

People who are diagnosed with cancer have a relatively delicate immune balance. We are not truly sure about the factors involved in the immunological cascade.

People take lots of medicines, supplements and more to enhance their immune system. This has become a multi-billion dollar business. Unfortunately, most of these have low or no benefit.

One of the exciting and intriguing things which is emerging is the role of the gut in the immune system. What we eat and what our guts produce are becoming increasingly important from an immune perspective.

Probiotics are a bad idea for patients on immunotherapy. The logic being that immune systems are created on the normal gut flora – which is amazingly diverse. Taking probiotics spoils the equilibrium in the gut. Not a good idea.

Antibiotics have the similar problem. They kill the normal gut bugs and change the dynamics of the intestinal flora. Do not take antibiotics for things like viral infections or suspected infections.

It is so humbling to know that everytime we think we have found a new and wonderful door of understanding…. it just opens another maze to tackle.

Doctors and Nurses are good people

Doctors and Nurses are generally good people. They are usually taken for granted by the hospital administrators and executive.

This article in the New York Times is excellent. Great piece.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/08/opinion/sunday/hospitals-doctors-nurses-burnout.html#click=https://t.co/7Jl8rL9Kbi

Lung Cancer in non-smokers

Lung cancer is predominantly an illness seen in smokers or former smokers. There is an increasing number of patients with lung cancer, who have never smoked. Ever.

The huge stigma of lung cancer remains in this present day and age. People still say in hushed accusatory tones… “he was a smoker”, “she really should have stopped smoking”, etc.

The main issue being that we cannot change the past, but can fix the present and modify the future. Stop smoking. Believe in yourself. Focus on treatment. Get on with life.

Lung Cancer in Non-Smokers

 

Cancer Care in Australia

Cancer care in Australia is just fantastic. Truly is.

The USA has cutting edge technology and a plethora of Phase 1 clinical trials and research work, but for the average person who needs treatment, Australia is still miles ahead. It is not just the issue of the medications available, surgery options, radiotherapy…. but the social and financial issues.

The South Australian Govt helps patients who drive more than 100 km per journey with financial assistance for their fuel and accomodation.

Most chemotherapy, biological and immunotherapy medications are available in Australia – via tax-payer Medicare subsidy or access programs.

The problem is that many people do not appreciate the medical care in Australia. The care from doctors, nurses, reception staff, pharmacists, cleaners, medical records and the rest of the team in the health care sector – is mostly really good. We tend to highlight the few bad stories (hopefully the incidents will be prevented in the future), but may not emphasise the good work which people do.

I have patients who are on treatment in Adelaide and decide to go on a holiday across the country. We arrange for treatment to happen across cancer centres in various parts in Australia. It happens somehow. Pretty amazing.

God bless Australia.