Comments from readers on the Winter 2011 issue.
I am a mother of a son who at age 7 was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL). He endured three and a half years of cancer treatment and a fourth year of follow-up procedures to check for recurrence. Twenty years have passed since my family waged our war on childhood cancer. Fortunately, my son survived. A 7-year-old child has not lived a lifetime of exposures. Why haven’t researchers examined what our sons and daughters have been exposed to? Over the past 20 years, there has been an increase in children diagnosed with cancer. I don’t understand why more is not done to ask parents about a child’s exposure in hopes of helping the next generation of parents who will hear the words, “I’m sorry to say your child has cancer.”
Oak Forest, Ill.
I just read "House Call: Confusion About PSA Test" regarding the recent U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendation that healthy men should avoid regular PSA screening. With regard to the USPSTF, prostate cancer patient advocacy organizations (one of which I am a part), recommend men should visit their doctor and engage in meaningful dialogue regarding the risk and benefit of regular PSA screening. To simply accept the USPSTF draft recommendation that men should avoid PSA screening is a dangerous proposition. PSA is no panacea, but let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water.
Secretary, Board of Directors
Us TOO International Prostate Cancer Education & Support Network
Downers Grove, Ill.
Why is there so much confusion regarding the PSA test for prostate cancer? The article "Confusion About PSA Test" is a typical example. This article leaves the impression that the test is an indicator for immediate treatment. It is not! However, the rate of change in the antigen quite typically indicates the need for further testing, such as actual core sampling of the prostate itself. Without a patient's history from multiple testing, the antigen rate of change simply cannot be determined. Such information in the hands of a skilled physician can and does save lives. I know. It has saved mine!
Lee’s Summit, MO
The article “Breaking the Bank - Medical Debt: An Unspoken Side Effect of Cancer Care” was very valuable. I spent countless hours trying to find financial assistance for my husband’s medical care and came up with nothing. We made a little too much money for some financial assistance but not enough to be able to afford to pay the deductibles and co-pays. We were awarded financial assistance through one organization just to be told that we couldn’t use it because our bills weren’t from chemotherapy or some other drug therapy for cancer. It is very important to share the not-so-nice side of the financial difficulties for cancer patients and their families. Those who are “working poor” will have difficulty finding help with those bills. “Doughnut holes” in insurance can be very painful financially. Not everyone who needs assistance gets it.
I believe there has to be more communication between the dental and medical community. I know, in my case, I did everything right before and after and still went through the loss of all my teeth. I am happy to see that CURE is writing about this ("Consider Dental Issues Before Beginning Cancer Treatment")!
Thank you for writing about this topic. It is crucial before, during and after treatment for head & neck cancer patients like me. I was lucky and was informed of this by my nurse (note: not a doctor). I have spoken with countless other head and neck cancer patients who were unprepared and had to suffer serious mouth and gum disease and loss of their teeth. Insult to injury and major quality of life issues that could and should have been avoided.
I picked up a copy of CURE magazine when accompanying a friend to her oncology visit. It is thoughtfully composed and extremely well-written and is a terrific resource for patients, families, friends and their caregivers. I just registered for a free subscription so that I can be better informed.
Anita Gewurz, MD
Section of Allergy & Immunology
Department of Immunology/Microbiology
Rush University Medical Center
A shame to do a small profile on Henrietta Lacks' legacy and not point readers to Rebecca Skloot's genius book about it.
Lisa Bonchek Adams (@AdamsLisa)