The Pitfalls of Promises

Facing a life-threatening illness like cancer, patients look to their physician for reassurance and hope. “The compassionate part of me aches to alleviate my patients’ fears,” Cleveland Clinic oncologist Mikkael Sekeres, MD, writes. But what happens when they want more certainty?

When the Medical News Isn’t Good

Oncologists often have to deliver bad news to their patients, but repetition doesn’t make the task any easier. Relaying complex information about test results, treatment plans, risks and survival chances is challenging, writes Cleveland Clinic oncologist Mikkael Sekeres, MD, MS — especially with patients who have comprehension difficulties.

On Free Lunches and Free Choices

If free drug company pens and meals can influence doctors’ prescribing patterns, what happens when there’s much more at stake — like a financial share in a newly developed drug or medical device? Industry/physician relationships can fuel innovation, but also raise complex conflict-of-interest issues, as oncologist Mikkael Sekeres, MD, MS, found when his mother-in-law sought a hip replacement.

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The Ties That Bind

Neckties can be a liability in a medical setting — a magnet for stains, a possible germ vector, and a potential noose in the grasp of a curious toddler. But the knotted bit of silk hanging from a doctor’s collar can be an icebreaker in difficult situations, writes Cleveland Clinic oncologist Mikkael Sekeres, MD. Sometimes, it can even be a lifeline.

How Much Do Cancer Patients Want to Know?

One of the biggest challenges cancer specialists face is determining what patients want to know about their prognosis. When delivering the bad news, there’s a fine line between best-case scenarios and statistically likely outcomes, between specifics and generalities, between faith and despair. In this New York Times column, two Cleveland Clinic oncologists wrestle with what to say and how to say it.

The Dark Side of Clinical Trials Data-Sharing

Medical journal editors are proposing that researchers be required to disclose de-identified patient data underlying clinical trial results. Two Cleveland Clinic oncologists warn this seemingly sensible idea could jeopardize patient privacy, reduce trial access and force untenable choices.

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