What Are Circulating Tumor Cells?

Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) are cancer cells that detach from a primary cancer tumor and enter a person’s bloodstream.  Their goal is to move to another part of the body to form new metastases.  These new metastatic lesions are more aggressive than the primary tumor and account for most of the cancer-related deaths.  

Pazopanib Shows Promise in von Hippel-Lindau Disease - A Rare Cancer Syndrome

Results from the first prospective trial of systemic treatment for von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) disease show that the antiangiogenic agent pazopanib (Votrient, Novartis) could offer a "realistic option" to surgical resection in patients with this rare, inherited cancer syndrome.

Appendix Cancer Gene Mutations Might Guide Treatment 

As the result of the rarity of appendix cancer (appendix cancer accounts for less than 1 percent of tumors that originate in the gastrointestinal tract), there is a lack of scientific data to guide treatment decisions.  As a result, current treatment guidelines are the same as for colon cancer.

PARP Inhibitors Might Treat Two Rare Cancers

Researchers from Yale Cancer Center have found that PARP Inhibitors might offer an effective treatment paradigm for two rare inherited cancers, Hereditary Leiomyomatosis and Renal Cell Cancer (HLRCC) and Succinate Dehydrogenase-related Hereditary Paraganglioma and Pheochromocytoma (SDH PGL/PCC).


Foundation One has announced that The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a “breakthrough device” that has the potential to match cancer patients with more accurate individualized treatment regiments with just one test. This test will push the boundaries of personalized medicine as it might allow us to choose better treatments that are most likely to be effective for specific types of cancer — and to make those decisions sooner.

We Demand That Our Doctors SEE US

An article in Healio (10/23) reported the results of a study of 120 cancer patients “nearly three-quarters of patients with advanced cancer preferred doctors who communicated with them face-to-face while holding a notepad rather than repeatedly using a computer.”  

Hello, why the surprise here?

In a presentation scheduled to be delivered at the Palliative and Supportive Care in Oncology Symposium, Andrew S. Epstein, MD, ASCO expert and medical oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, said of the research implications, “In an age of ubiquitous technology, this study is an important reminder of the need to address the potential for technology to interfere with the patient-clinician interface, which is a critical component of the relationship between these two parties.”

Look, we already know this fact.  The real question for us isn’t the research finding, but what we need to do if we find that our doctor doesn’t speak with us but instead engages with the computer screen. 

Usually, physicians engage with the computer during our meetings with them so that their notes are up to date without needing to take a few seconds afterward and update their notes.  Doctors who engage in this practice are being selfish. 

Forget our personal preferences that we want to feel that our doctors engage with us; there is good evidence that a doctor can gain as much valuable clinical information about us by carefully observing us as well as listening to what we say to them.  

The standard of care should dictate that our clinical caregivers engage us, not their computer.

Joel T. Nowak, MA, MSW wrote this Post.  Joel is the CEO/Executive Director of Cancer ABCs.  He is a Cancer Thriver diagnosed with five primary cancers - Thyroid, Metastatic Prostate, Renal, Melanoma, and Appendiceal Cancer
a rare cancer.


A Fatal Flaw in the Clinical Trial Consenting Process

More than a majority of cancer patients do not understand that if they enter into a clinical trial they have no guarantee that they will receive the investigational treatment that they believe their doctor wants them to receive!  More transparent clinical trial consenting procedures need to be immediately instituted.