EXPERT VOICES

Timely insight on cancer topics from the experts of the American Cancer Society

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Otis W. Brawley (3 posts)  RSS

Weighing the Benefits and Risks of Lung Cancer Screening

January 11, 2013

By Otis W. Brawley, MD, FACP

 

This week the American Cancer Society announces its lung cancer screening guidelines. In short, we recommend that health care professionals with access to high-quality lung cancer screening and treatment centers should discuss screening with healthy patients aged 55 years to 74 years who have at least a 30-year history of pack-a-day cigarette smoking and who currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years. The health care professional and patient should discuss all the known benefits and known harms associated with lung cancer screening.

These guidelines were developed after a meticulous process in which a group of cancer screening and treatment experts reviewed all the major lung cancer screening studies that have been published over the past several decades.  More...

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Lung Cancer | Otis W. Brawley

The Prostate Cancer Quandary

October 05, 2011

EDITOR'S NOTE: This blog was originally published on June 29. Due to recent questions on this topic, it's been reposted. News reports say the United States Preventive Services Task Force will next week release new recommendations saying that healthy men should no longer receive a PSA blood test to screen for prostate cancer. Reports say the USPSTF will say the test does not save lives and often leads to more tests and treatments that needlessly cause pain, impotence and incontinence. Otis W. Brawley, M.D., chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, says the Society cannot comment on the evidence review or on the recommendations until they are made public.

By Otis W. Brawley, MD, FACP

 

 

Prostate cancer is a major public health problem.   The American Cancer Society estimates that 240,890 American men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2011 and 33.720 will die of it.  It is the second leading cause of cancer death among men, only surpassed by lung cancer. 

 

Prostate cancer screening became common in the U.S. in the early 1990s and dramatically changed the demographic of cancer in the U.S. Prostate cancer quickly became the most commonly diagnosed non-skin cancer.  Today an American male has a lifetime risk of prostate cancer diagnosis of about 1 in 6 and a lifetime risk of dying of only 1 in 36. In Western European countries where screening is not common, the lifetime risk of prostate cancer diagnosis is much lower, about 1 in 10, and the lifetime risk of death is the same.

 

Screening began without the completion of the scientific research to show that it saves lives. For most advocates of screening and aggressive treatment, there was and is a desire to do something that might be beneficial to the population of men at risk. Unfortunately, the history of medicine is filled with examples of physicians "jumping the gun" and using possible interventions before they are fully evaluated. More...

Funding the Best Science Helps Us All

August 09, 2011

By Otis W. Brawley, MD, FACP


From time to time, I encounter advocates for research in certain diseases. These are people who want better answers for a specific cancer. Oftentimes these folks or a relative has had that particular cancer.  They often ask, why is so little money spent on pancreatic cancer, ovarian cancer, or even lung cancer?   Why can't we spend more? These are reasonable questions, and I want to try to address them in this piece. 


First I caution against what I call "disease Olympics."  This is when advocates for one disease try to increase funding for their disease by decreasing funding for another disease. I have often seen this in my 25 years as an oncologist, researcher, and scientific administrator. I would point out that 90% of the grants that are submitted and judged worthy of funding to the National Cancer Institute, American Cancer Society, and other research-funding organizations are not funded due only to a lack of money. I believe the wise advocate tries to get more money for all cancer research and does not try to undermine another disease in favor of the disease that he or she is interested in. More...

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