Siddhartha Mukherjee weighs in on how doctors arrive at a diagnosis and how computers can assist but not replace them. Is this the doctor of the future? Probably not. I am a big fan of Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee, a cancer physician, researcher, and stem cell biologist who is also a phenomenally… read more "How Do Doctors Learn to Diagnose, and Can Machines Learn to Do It, Too?"
Precision medicine is a development that promises to tailor treatments to the individual patient based on genetic and other molecular and cellular analyses. In his 2015 State of the Union address, President Obama announced the Precision Medicine Initiative. A website for Precision Medicine claims to offer “perfect care for every individual.”… read more "Precision Medicine and Uncertainty"
There is a worldwide epidemic of thyroid cancer. South Korea has been hit the hardest; in 2011, the rate of thyroid cancer diagnoses was fifteen times what it was in 1993. There have also been dramatic increases in other countries including the United States, France, Italy, the UK, and Japan,… read more "The Screening Test that Caused an Epidemic"
Genetic variants may provide information you’d rather ignore The complete sequencing of the human genome by the Human Genome Project was a remarkable accomplishment and a cause for celebration. Several companies including 23andMe, Navigenics, and deCODE have capitalized on that scientific achievement by offering genomic testing directly to the public. They promise more… read more "Genetic Testing: Does Knowing Risk of Disease Make a Difference?"
One treatment for carotid artery stenosis: stent placement The carotid artery in the neck is a common site of atherosclerosis. As plaque builds up, it leaves less room for blood flow and can cause strokes through clotting or embolization. Carotid stenosis is defined as a greater than 70% narrowing of the lumen (the… read more "Carotid Artery Stenosis: Surgery, Stent, or Nonsurgical Stroke Prevention?"
Primum non nocere is a Latin phrase meaning “first do no harm.” It is commonly attributed to Hippocrates, but if he ever said any such thing, he certainly didn’t say it in Latin. He lived in ancient Greece from 430 BC to 370 BC and presumably spoke Greek. The phrase,… read more "Screening Tests and Primum non nocere"
New mothers, especially first-time mothers, tend to worry about whether they are doing what is best for their babies. A new service, Happy Vitals, will only add to those worries. We know that breast is best, but these folks make women question whether their breast milk is good enough. They say:… read more "Breast Milk Testing: Scaremongering, Not Science"
Hands On Learning Solutions, a business in Gig Harbor, Washington, evaluates and treats children for learning disabilities and claims to identify the underlying causes and help eliminate the symptoms. Much of what they do is questionable, and at least one of their methods is clearly bogus. Their program is reminiscent… read more "“Hands On Learning Solutions”: Untested Solutions for Problems That May Not Even Exist"
The ads in my local newspaper are a never-ending source of questionable health claims, most often from diet supplement manufacturers and chiropractors. There’s no single spokesman like Dr. Oz, but as a group they remind me of Oz’s unending series of weight loss miracles, each one the perfect solution until the next one comes along. The proliferation of chiropractic ads is bad… read more "“Finally. . . The Low Back Pain Solution”: A Chiropractor Makes Questionable Claims"
Incidenta-what? An incidentaloma is an unexpected abnormality accidentally found on medical imaging studies done for an unrelated reason. It typically leads to further diagnostic tests, sometimes invasive ones like biopsies and surgery, and it almost always turns out to be something harmless. It would have been better not to know… read more "Incidentalomas: Too Much Information Can Hurt You"