Blog

The Science and the Art of Exceptional Cancer Care

Jeffery C. Ward
Not long ago, I read two articles, one by a cancer doctor and another by a journalist. They both left me steaming a bit.  In medicine, we talk about the science (the factual database and knowledge that we use) and the art of medicine (how we use and adapt that database to the benefit of individual and different patients). Both of these articles, the first overtly and the second more indirectly, suggested that the art of medicine is about hiding the science from the patient in order to provide hope, albeit false hope to the cancer victim. Let me state clearly, despite paternalistic instincts, dishonesty has no place in the practice of oncology.

Both of my grandmothers died from cancer. Grandma S. died of stomach cancer when I was in college. As far as I know, she was never told that her cancer had recurred after surgery. Her second husband and family wanted it that way. “Knowing that she has cancer will devastate her, let her have her hope,” we were told. When my cousins and I visited, we were under strict orders to not ask too many questions about her “gall stone” problems. She knew though. You could see it in Grandma’s eyes. But the web that had been woven kept her from being able to grieve and gave no opportunity for good byes. As she slipped away she became withdrawn and depressed.

Grandma B. was diagnosed with an aggressive lymphoma when I was just out of medical school and in my training. She was fully informed by her doctors. She had opportunity to seek second opinions. She conferenced with her children. When she chose to not leave her little ranch valley in Idaho for desperate treatments far from home, and to die in her own home, her family rallied around her in support. For six weeks, she narrated her life history, wrapping up a legacy of lasting value for her family. She was the recipient of an outpouring of love from her community and she died fulfilled, with a smile of satisfaction on her face.

The science and art of medicine are ...

How to treat babies with forceful vomiting (pyloric stenosis)

Angela M. Hanna, MD

Angela M. Hanna, MD
Pediatric Surgeon

Pyloric Stenosis (or infantile hypertrophic pyloric stenosis) is a condition characterized by forceful vomiting in an infant due to hypertrophy of the pylorus muscle leading to gastric outlet obstruction. This means the muscle where the stomach empties into the small intestine becomes too thick and prevents emptying. As a result, after eating, the baby vomits. The reason for this happening is not known but is likely caused by many things and family history can play a role. Pyloric stenosis is rare, occurring in about 3 of  every 1,000 live births, and most often occurs between the ages of 3-6 weeks, is more common in males, and 1/3 of the time occurs in a first-born child.
 
Vomit from pyloric stenosis usually consists of just milk or formula. Any vomit with color should raise suspicion for other diagnoses. Parents report vomiting from pyloric stenosis as forceful and projectile. Infants are often hungry after vomiting, wanting to continue eating, however eating usually continues the cycle of vomiting.
 
How to treat pyloric stenosis
 
To ...

PALB2 Gene Mutation & Breast Cancer: What it Means For You

Robert Resta

Robert Resta
Genetic Counselor

PALB2 is a gene that was first linked to hereditary breast cancer risk back in 2007. Today’s Seattle Times reports on a recent study about PALB2 that was just published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study, the largest to date, detailed the breast cancer risks faced by  women – and to a lesser extent, men – who carry a mutation in their PALB2 gene. The breast cancer risks were several times greater than the ~12% risk faced by all women, and varied with the woman’s age and family history. Currently, there is no consistent evidence to suggest  that men or women who carry a single PALB2 gene mutation are at greater risks of developing ovarian or other cancers.
 
PALB2 genetic testing can provide very important information that can help women and their families better understand and reduce their risks of developing breast cancer. However, even among women with a very strong personal or family history of breast cancer, very few will test positive. Studies suggest that only about 1-3% of high risk women  will carry a PALB2 mutation. In my personal experience, I have tested about 300 high risk women for PALB2 mutations, and ...

Summer, sun, and skin cancer - what you should know

Andrew R. Ting, MD, FACS

Andrew R. Ting, MD, FACS
General Surgeon

It is easy to get carried away enjoying the string of lovely sunny summer days we have had in Seattle. Our sun is strong, and our unprotected skin vulnerable to UV damage that can lead to sun damage and perhaps skin cancers. Skin cancers fall into the broad categories of squamous cell cancer, basal cell cancer and melanoma. Each of these cancers are usually surgically excised or destroyed by either a dermatologist or general surgeon.

How to tell if a skin lesion is concerning

Warning signs include moles larger than a pencil eraser head, change in size, change in color, itching, bleeding or scab forming over the mole. Areas of particular concern include face, neck, back and extremities. However, skin cancers can also develop in areas where the sun does not shine.

What to do if I have a skin cancer?

If you have a mole or skin lesion that is concerning, bring it up with your family physician who may biopsy it or refer you ..

5th Annual Multiple Sclerosis Center Art Show 2014

Bobbie (Barbara) J. Severson, ARNP

Bobbie (Barbara) J. Severson, ARNP
ARNP, Swedish Multiple Sclerosis Center

The Swedish Multiple Sclerosis Center is hosting the 5th annual MS Center Art Show on August 9 & 10 from 10 am to 6 pm at the Seattle Center Armory.  The event is free and open to the public.  Please join us for this yearly celebration of art that is created by people living with MS and all others affected by this disease.
 
Art frees the spirit even when MS tries to limit it. The MS Center at Swedish hopes to acknowledge the lives and talents of everyone affected by MS.  The Art Show will feature over 80 pieces of art including painting, photography, sculpture, jewelry, and more. 
 
The purpose of the annual Swedish MS Center Art Show is to:

Protect your hearing at Seattle's Seafair

Kristiina Huckabay, AuD, FAAA
Blue Angels! Cheering fans! Hydroplanes! Live music! Fireworks! Along with the excitement Seafair brings to Seattle, it also brings a lot of noise! The otolaryngologists and audiologists at Swedish Otolaryngology want you to enjoy these events, while protecting your precious hearing. The sound of a jet engine can be up to 120 dB at take-off and even 30 seconds of exposure to this sound can cause permanent noise damage (American Academy of Audiology website).
 


Here are some tips for protecting your hearing:

Wear ...

Don’t Leave Your Child in a Hot Car – Understanding the Risks & Consequences

Jayne Blackburn, MSN, RN, CCRN

Jayne Blackburn, MSN, RN, CCRN
Pediatric ICU Charge Nurse

In the span of this hot weather streak, we all need a quick refresher and reminder about how quickly children can suffer from heatstroke if left in a hot car.  Every summer, there are multiple occasions where children are left in hot cars for a myriad of “excuses” by adults.  In 2014 alone there have been 18 deaths of children related to heatstroke obtained by being left alone in a hot car. 

Here are some things you must know:

  1.  No matter how brief – there are no exceptions!  Some adults may think that taking the child in/out of their car seat is cumbersome and they are correct, even if it for what they believe is a “quick stop”.  But, remember – the stakes are too high!  The car temperatures can get very hot in a very short period of time.  There is no safe amount of time to leave children alone in a car.

(Did you know? In 10 minutes a car can heat up 20+ degrees Fahrenheit.  Even if it is only 60 degrees outside, the inside of a car can heat up to approximately 110 degrees. “Cracking” the windows does very little to keep the car cool.)

Results 8-14 of 50

Learn more about the Swedish blog

Swedish has a social media policy

See who is blogging at Swedish

   Keep up with Swedish:

    Check out the Swedish blog

Find a Physician

              Subscribe to
             HealthWatch