13 results for author: Andrew Schorr


Spotlight on Patient Power: Celebrating Partnerships in Cancer

I have written many times here about my frustration when groups that are supposed to have a devotion to cancer patients as their top priority get sidetracked by egos, distrust of one another, bureaucratic procedures and turf wars. Over the years, I have seen it happen much too often. But I am happy to report some instances now when groups are working together as true partners, and I want to call them out for credit. Over the next weeks and months, Patient Power has plans to produce a number of “town meetings” for patients and care partners affected by specific cancer types. And great organizations are helping in each case.  On ...

Immuno-Oncology – The Challenging Road Ahead

Experts say there is tremendous promise in stimulating a patient’s own immune system to fight their cancer. A few new drugs are already on the market in this area for conditions like advanced melanoma and some subtypes of lung cancer. We have a town meeting discussing this for lung cancer on March 7th in Tampa and a melanoma one on March 28th in Phoenix. In blood cancers, hematologists also see great promise for this approach as we heard from many at the recent American Society of Hematology meeting. And, earlier, Dr. Oliver Press spoke to me about it in lymphoma. But there’s a caution just now: even when  experts say they are “excite...

How Facebook Scares Me

Like any cancer survivor, I worry about what’s next. Am I bruising too much? Is this little “twinge” something serious? Is this just a cold, or could it be pneumonia? My wife thinks I am a hypochondriac, but she acknowledges that it can be understandable. After all, I was first diagnosed 18 years ago. I stuff the fears down, but they are there. And that’s why there’s a trend on Facebook that scares me: patients who are not doing well post some of the most gruesome photos. Do we really need to see? A couple of years ago, I wrote how text postings were worrisome too. People would describe this serious problem or that one. Understandably, they ...

My Perspective on the High Cost of Cancer Drugs

Dr. Leonard Salz, a renowned GI cancer specialist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, said on the U.S. news program “60 Minutes” the other night that we must—in the U.S.—discuss the high cost of cancer drugs. Dr. Hagop Kantarjian, head of the leukemia department at MD Anderson, whom I know well, agrees as do so many other doctors, patient advocates and patients. Many therapies are now costing over $100,000 a year. And in this age of “chronic cancer,” you might take that medicine for years. Now some experts are saying to really keep the cancer at bay you need to take more than one medicine together. $200,000+ a year ...

If medtech wants to start attaching things to my body outside of the clinic, we better talk

(This post was originally published on MedTech Views) The practice of medicine is meant to keep people well or help them get well so they can live a full, productive life. Technology provides tools toward that goal. It can help relieve pain and suffering or prevent it. But too often we get so excited about technology we lose sight of what’s really important, helping human beings live better. And when it comes to the millions of people living with chronic conditions, and now “chronic cancers”, we need to really understand their lives with an illness to know how technology can help. I am a medical journalist since the mid-80’s who was ...

The Highs and Lows of #ESMO14

Cancer progress is usually incremental. Two steps forward one step back. And it goes at a different pace for different cancers, and now even subtypes of a cancer. Melanoma is changing fast. Targeted therapies like BRAF drugs to help 50% of the patients and the prospect that immunotherapies like the so called “checkpoint inhibitors” will help a wider group of patients. It’s a big deal. In prostate cancer men with advanced disease are living longer and living better. Many older guys are playing golf even with advanced disease because bone pain has been tamped down or out. But not all news is good. Today lung cancer studies were disappoint...

How We Overcame Cancer As Newlyweds

How We Overcame Cancer As Newlyweds from Patient Power on Vimeo. For Jessica and Esteban Izquierdo, life was good. Both recent graduates settling into their new jobs, they soon made a decision to spend their lives together—a love story that started in Quito, Ecuador, where they fell in love as teenagers. Just three weeks before their wedding, Jessica began to feel more tired than usual and decided that quitting her job might help with what she thought was a bout of anxiety from planning her upcoming wedding. A trip to the emergency room revealed their worst fears, a diagnosis of primary mediastinal large B cell lymphoma (PMBL) or non-Hodgkin ...

Robin Williams’ Death: A Message About Depression

We were all shocked by the sudden loss of actor and comedian Robin Williams. Just today I had breakfast with an old friend from Marin County, California. She went to high school with Robin and would run into him often in her home town of Tiburon. People in that area knew him and his family. I even once attended a party with his mother. But whether you lived in the Bay Area or not, Robin Williams’ death too soon seemed personal, as he made us laugh for so many years. Last night, our family, during a reunion, re-watched “Good Morning Vietnam.” He was an incredible talent. Robin Williams didn’t die of natural causes. He died by taking his own ...

Spotlight on Patient Power: Let’s Have More Dialogue!

  It has become abundantly clear that patients with cancer find great value in knowing they are not alone and having active dialogue with other patients. I know it helped me back in 1996 when I was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia and continues to help me today. But I am in a great spot in communications and get to meet other patients all the time. Many others hardly know anyone else. That’s why we are stepping up our efforts to connect Patient Power audiences with each other, per condition. We are doing this in several ways: 1. We are producing more in-person town meetings and building in extra time during these Saturday ...

Anxiety of Hope?: Drinking from the “Firehose” of Cancer News

This is prime season for cancer news reporting. As I write this we have a Patient Power team in Chicago at the annual meeting of ASCO, the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Media from around the world are there and so are patient-advocates because it is what I like to call the “world series” of cancer. Tens of thousands of doctors and researchers from around the world attend to present their data or hear reports from others. And, of course, all the drug companies are busy bees there too. We are producing 20 or so video reports from ASCO and you can find news reports all over the web. In about 10 days we’ll be at it again – ...