Monday, 27 November 2017

Let patients help!

Dave deBronkart, better known as "e-Patient Dave", is a marketing expert who on January 3, 2007, at 09:02, received a call from his doctor: "We have found something in your lung." DeBronkart remembers that moment with precision because that news changed his life. From that moment he abandoned his normal citizen status to become a metastatic patient of a tumour of renal origin and, given his clinical condition, in an advanced cancer patient. DeBronkart received a treatment that normally does not work, but luckily it worked for him.

So far a story with a happy ending, but Dave's story highlights his attitude (just look at the cover of the book with a picture of him with his doctor, Dr. Danny Sands). With the sentence above, far from adopting a fearful and docile attitude, searched Google, went to find other patients with the same diagnosis, and sat down to talk to his doctors using his own criteria, sharing with them each of the decisions that he was taking. Now e-Patient Dave has become a leader in what we call patient empowerment.

Monday, 20 November 2017

The fallibility of scientists

Nature has echoed the professional debate about the intrinsic quality of scientists’ work, in a dynamics of self-criticism comparable to what is taking place, in similar terms, in the clinical world. Scientists are also fallible, says the article writer and therefore, should enhance the mechanisms of self-criticism, rather than enrol in self-deception.

John Ioannidis, Meta-Research Innovation Center at Stanford, says scientists should work harder to understand the biases of their human fallibility if they want to overcome the crisis of confidence generated by the poor reproducibility of research results. And to illustrate his words, Ioannidis offers three examples: a) from a selection of one hundred psychology studies, only the results of just over a third of the work could be replicated, b) a group of Amgen researchers only succeeded in reproducing 6 of the results of 53 reference studies in the field of oncology and haematology, and c) the Ioannidis team itself was able to replicate completely only 2 of the 18 gene expression studies based on microarrays (DNA chips).

Monday, 13 November 2017

Measuring the value of anti-cancer drugs

Cristina Roure

Anti-cancer drugs, especially palliative drugs, are toxic, costly and sometimes of little benefit, as a result their value to the patient and society are often questionable. It’s also true that significant improvements in the survival rates are threatened by the difficulty in accessing them, due to their unsustainable cost.

Monday, 6 November 2017

Precision medicine in the elderly care

Marco Inzitari

One of the challenges launched by President Barack Obama ($215 million for 2016) is the "Precision Medicine Initiative" a concept that goes against the treatment focused on the "average-patient". According to this initiative, as a first step, cancer treatments should be oriented to the specific genetics of the patient. For this reason, we often refer to the future of oncology as a "precision medicine". As another example, to continue with oncology, the Watson Intelligent System (IBM) will provide support to oncologists for informed and well fitted decision-making, analyzing patients' medical records and looking for possible evidence-based options.