Every day in the office, as a practicing prostate oncologist, I confront serious problems: PSA levels that are rising, treatments causing too many side effects, patients desperately worried about their future. And sometimes, given our limited tools, the solutions we can offer are only partial. However, every time the FDA approves a new treatment there is an excitement akin to opening gifts on Christmas morning. All of a sudden we have a shiny new tool in the tool chest to help us do a better job.
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I have never seen a real game of chicken where two cars race head on toward each other to see who will swerve first, i.e., who is chicken. However, we are seeing an actual game of chicken being played out before our eyes on the national stage.
The stress of a diagnosis of cancer can throw patients into an “altered state” in which they are particularly vulnerable to suggestion—good or bad. And because most of us, as children, are taught to believe in the infallibility of doctors, the manner in which a doctor delivers a life-threatening diagnosis has a profound effect, and actually has the power to influence the course of the disease.