Dr. Len's Cancer Blog

Expert perspective, insight and discussion

Dr. Len's Cancer Blog

The American Cancer Society

"Data, Data, Data" Should Never Replace Care And Compassion

by Dr. Len April 30, 2012

Lessons in life rarely come at us with lights flashing and horns blaring. Such was the situation recently when I was attending a luncheon in Portland OR for some of our Strides Against Breast Cancer volunteers.


He was not a flashy gentleman. Most of the attendees were young women, and the conversation was very animated. He was more reserved. Older, gray hair with a worn baseball cap, jeans and a work shirt. A bit taciturn but  pleasant, and he had made a special effort to be there. Clearly he was in some personal discomfort and I realized that he needed to talk.


Without going into all of the details, his wife had died from breast cancer. Obviously, they had been partners for life and her loss was painful. In a sense, he appeared to have dealt with that as well as one can "deal" after the loss of someone sorely loved. As I have said for many years, the sad reality is that when we love we always know that sometime in that love there will be intense loss, and that the loss is never the end of the journey.


We talked a bit and the messages arrived. There were lessons he wanted me to hear, and they weren't entirely positive. More...

Genomics And Targets For The Treatment Of Cancer: Is Our New World Turning Into "Pharmageddon" Or Are We On The Threshold Of Great Discoveries?

by Dr. Len April 02, 2012


One of the things I enjoy about what I get to do every day--besides working for a wonderful organization, committed volunteers and very special colleagues--is that I am able to get a broad overview of the world of cancer research, diagnosis and treatment, among other topics. Over time, one gets to incorporate that input into a larger vision of where we have been, where we are and where we are headed.


Sometimes that "larger vision" is challenged with new information that makes you think a bit about whether you need to readjust your thinking about the state of cancer research and treatment. Recently I attended a meeting where just such a challenge occurred.


The meeting was convened by the Institute of Medicine, and brought together stakeholders to be informed and discuss the current status of genomics and drug discovery in cancer. To a more specific point, it provided insights from a variety of viewpoints on the current status of genomics as a science and how that science and knowledge will be translated to the care of patients, with the obvious goal of reducing the burden and suffering from cancer.


What I heard--while reinforcing some of my usually optimistic thoughts--actually was troubling. As we look to the future of that translation, it was clear (at least to some of the presenters) we are headed for some speed bumps. How we handle those speed bumps could define the progress we make in cancer treatment over the next decade or even longer. More...

About Dr. Len

Dr. Len

J. Leonard Lichtenfeld, MD, MACP - Dr. Lichtenfeld is Deputy Chief Medical Officer for the national office of the American Cancer Society.