Thursday, December 13, 2007

Small Step for Man

What amazes me about oncology is how science moves at a pace that is both slow and exhilarating. It seems that even the smallest steps toward improvement seem vast, and yet only highlight evermore how that elusive "cure" continually escapes us.

Of course, there are a few break-throughs in cancer therapeutics that seems awe-inspiring...whoever invented the bone marrow transplant (wow), the MOPP regimen for chemotherapy, how chemoradiation can cure Hodgkin's, how Gleevac can suppress CML. And even the "smaller" advances, like how you can harvest bone marrow stem cells from a donor's peripheral circulation using G-CSF seems so amazing and wonderful because you can spare donors a radical pelvic surgery and give patients faster engraftments (so that there are "1) shorter hospital stays 2) fewer treatment-related deaths 3) fewer infections 4) fewer transfusions and 5) lower cost"). It's when you can make advances in research that translate into enormous human benefit that makes me feel so inspired.

At the same time, there is always more work to be done. We watched a Frontline clip about a patient receiving alternative medicine for his pancreatic cancer, and it reminded me that there are still so many things to do.

Oh, and reading about bone marrow transplants have made me resolve a few things:
1) Have 3 children so that they can donate bone marrow stem cells to each other (just in case)
2) Save cord blood

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