61 Comments

Join me with David Ropeik to discuss Cancer-Phobia on Sustain What at 1 pm Eastern TODAY (4/19) or watch afterward. (I've had my own dealings with the "Emperor of All Maladies" - half a thyroid gland and continual prostate surveillance and would have made different choices if I'd read his book first.) Here are show links: Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/events/881851757042395

LinkedIn

https://www.linkedin.com/events/7185813848279384066/comments/

YouTube

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MTY_qC2UkYU

Expand full comment

Wow, I didn't realize the harm that cancer-phobia could have on our own health. Most of the women from my mother's side of the family have died of breast cancer, resulting in many undergoing frequent mammographies and consider drastic measure like mammary gland removal. Discouraging these behaviors is challenging as they seem counterintuitive at first glance. Moreover, media tends to sensationalize cancer and carcinogens, lengthening even more the process of eliminating this cancer-phobia epidemic.

Expand full comment

Oncologists are spreading the fear to sell expensive chemo drugs. The -mab drugs are looking for a disease to treat. Cancer research is fake. The control group is about as random as the audience at a Grateful Dead concert. This article is trying to shift blame to the patients. Bizarre. Who knows what cancer is curable with Retinoic Acid?

Expand full comment

As someone that has had to endure two false positive screenings over the last year and had to wait 3-4 months each before we had a final “ no issue” , the anxiety it caused was immense. In canada, test results and follow up exams , ie an ultrasound after a suspicious mammo, take weeks/months.

Expand full comment

Read "How We Do Harm" by Dr Otis Bradley. Who decides the ages for screening based in what facts? The WHO, the CDC? OH they are so trustworthy. The ones that, oppsy, decided locking us in our homes for 2 years all while making money off the vaccines was the best fir us??

Sadly...Doc(s), especially since Covid, are more likely seen to be following the crowd or just doing what they are told to do by their medical orgs.

We won't even mention the humongous conflict of interest Oncologists have in making profit off of chemo drugs.

Good article...as for me I will question everything from now on. And the first question will be show me the evidence behind whatever a person is suggesting.

Expand full comment

Bravo! Well said.

Expand full comment

Yes, that is unfortunately a reality. I've learned over the years , I'm 60, we have to be our own advocates and for our families and push for what we need.

Expand full comment

Fear not just if cancer but of death seems to me to be the great driver...but to ignore the huge role that profit motives drive much of this and place it on the patients shoulders seems problematic.

Expand full comment
Mar 29·edited Mar 29

Overall, liked the article, but his comment on fluoride gets me. I'm not worried about fluoride causing cancer, I'm frustrated with being hypothyroid and knowing that fluoride is (or historically was) a treatment for hyperthyroidism. So thank you so much, water companies, for trying to medicate me - and the whole population - further into hypothyroidism.

Expand full comment

I would say the issue isn’t screening, it’s follow up from physicians. Women aren’t doing mastectomies on themselves, doctors are. A routine mammogram does no real harm, and is only a problem if a doctor decides to go crazy when a patient is anxious. Personally, Ive found that doctors are actually not cancer phobic enough. I had a tumor in my breast for years that was ignored by 4 different doctors. Even after I had a random rib break, no doctor suggested I have a mammogram, despite a tumor. I was young and breastfeeding, so changes in the breast were seen as normal and not important. By the time I finally spoke to an intelligent, dynamic physician who got me in for a diagnostic mammogram the next day, the cancer had already spread to most of my bones, my liver, my lungs, spleen and ovaries. I have 6 young children.

I don’t think the problem is cancer phobia, it’s inappropriate diagnostic criteria for those with cancer. Doctors need to be keen to signs of cancer in people of all ages. Perhaps we overscreen, but if I could go back in time and lop of my breasts myself with a dang kitchen knife I would.

Expand full comment

Courage, strength and blessings to you! I am so sorry you have to deal with these tremendous challenges. The mimd is powerful and I can tell you are a very strong person. Love to you and your family.

Expand full comment
Mar 29·edited Mar 29

Agree with both of you - it's crazy to talk about whether or not to screen if doctors aren't acting on symptoms and keep saying it's "just in your head". Why screen healthy people without symptoms and dismiss the one who are feeling ill?

Hugs to both of you. I'm so sorry this has happened to you, JMCH, and your friend Maura.

Expand full comment

Agreed. Sorry for your diagnosis but the other side needs to be recognized. I have a friend who went to Dr's multiple times about stomach pain. As what unfortunately is common she was told it was due to "stress". Dr's probably looked at her as someone in her 40's or was dismissed for being a woman with a big stressful job. She ended up in an ambulance for severe stomach pain that turned out to be S4 Colon Cancer. After 4 years she's now in palliative care. It never needed to get to this point. I would appreciate it if this article would address Dr's who dismiss their patients or miss important signs.

Expand full comment

Thank you! I have to say, I don’t know anyone who regrets a follow up procedure because of a cancer scare. Goodness gracious, I know far too many young people who are dying of cancer because doctors roll their eyes and try to be “cool” and “low key” about screenings.

Expand full comment

My Question is whether the author himself opted to never get a PSA and if he ever did get it himself, then that sais it all. Hypocrisy!

Just wondering…

Expand full comment

oh yeah, our dude is definitely doing all his screenings. The truth will come out about this book & it won't be pretty...

Expand full comment

Excellent article and the principles therein should be applied to cardiovascular screening as well. Much of the misunderstanding on the part of the public and the medical profession is due to unrealistic views about what doctors can or should do. Many people believe that doctors should be "promoting health" by pushing certain lifestyle changes despite the fact that there is no evidence of concrete benefit. Aside from some of the infectious diseases, hardly anything is known for certain about the causes of almost anything else. The doctor is trained to differentiate disease from health. The healthy can be reassured and this actually comprises much of what is done in general practice or other primary care disciplines. When disease is found the patient can be presented with treatment options and/or referred to a specialist for further recommendations. It is unrealistic to expect anything else.

Expand full comment

Nice piece. One of my guiding doctoring principles is “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should”.

And sensible med has done me a great service to remind me of the Sackett Venn diagram, and the primacy (or at least equivalency) of patient values and preferences Vs scientific evidence.

So on the one hand, I find it abhorrent to push screening that results in “treatments” that provide no outcome benefits, like for some of the cancer cases described here.

OTOH…if it puts their mind at ease…even if it exposes them to complications that could well be worse than the disease….who am I to judge? Cuz another one of my guiding principles is “choices have consequences”.

On the third hand, it’s fine if the tension was simply btw outcome evidence vs pt peace of mind. But there is always the spectre of financial gain…are you offering a treatment of no benefit to appease a pts wishes, or to pay your bills? And on a societal level, how much medical treatment of no outcome benefit can we afford simply for such appeasement?

Expand full comment

I have Cancer-phobia. I would rather die than have surgeries & all the types of chemo & other chemicals poison my system ... to be tortured, have the system suck every ounce of my savings & leave my spouse with huge debt (now legislators want our children to incur our debt after we are gone) or to have my family watch me suffer for what, months, years. I have seen too many friends & family suffer unimaginable pain & suffering all while going broke. Nope. I will continue with my Cancer-phobia until I die. Thanks for writing. A layperson.

Expand full comment

A surgery, a few quick rounds of chemo and radiation cured me. Be resilient! it's not that bad!

Expand full comment

You are not cured. You still have cancer cells on your body. Everyone does. Did any Fictir give you any ideas on how to PREVENT cancer? I bet not.

Expand full comment

yeah my oncology team has definitely told me a lot about preventing cancer. I didn't really see real doctors before I had cancer. The alt health community completely let me down with their "prevention" strategies but I have some good strategies for cancer prevention now that I see real doctors. Cheers!

Expand full comment

I thought you said you were cured? How can you have a recurrence of something that's gone? Hmm. Please share their prevention strategies. Let me guess. Stay out of the sun, don't eat red meat

Might wanna read this so that you can see who is funding what to give you advice.

https://naturalsociety.com/100-page-report-american-cancer-society-scam/

Or this money all in the name of equity. 15 MILLION

https://www.fiercepharma.com/marketing/pfizer-pumps-15m-american-cancer-societys-screening-focused-health-equity-push

Or this one where Merck is teaming up with ACS for screenings. 30 MILLION

https://www.cancer.org/about-us/our-partners/merck-partnership.html

OR only 3 MILLION Here

https://pressroom.cancer.org/Janssen

Expand full comment

thanks. of course we should be wary of pharma marketing and equally of the snake oil from the billion dollar alt health industry. I think you & I are probably making the same lifestyle choices. Bottom line is scammers exist in all fields, as do well intentioned and helpful individuals. including doctors! Thanks for the links; I will look. Be well.

Expand full comment

Interesting that you never responded to my "recurrence" and "cure" question and you ever went so far as to delete if from your post there. Hmm interesting.

Yes, you be well! And when you cancer does recur ask your oncologist how much money he PROFITS from those chemo drugs that are toxic that you sit so silently as they pump into your body.

Maybe read up on Burzinski and Cancer.

Expand full comment

Thanks but I'm old, can't afford great insurance & wouldn't want to leave my spouse broke & homeless. It's ok. I'm good with it. Thanks for the kind response.

Expand full comment

Its not a phobia if it will affect half of all Americans. It is a real risk. The thing I dont like about this piece is the unstated premise that I dont need to know. That you know better. That I should not even have the right to make a choice that you might not agree with. This is an irresponsible and paternalistic article.

Expand full comment

Cancer will never be "cured". Think how many people and orgs. would go out of business. Money is too good to stop the gravy train.

Expand full comment

agree 100%. I

I suspect there are corporate/insurance interests at play in this book & its promotions. Someone will find them & the book will be discounted soon after.

Expand full comment

We know how to cure cancers, cases of cancer. Statistically, most cases of cancer are cured. We focus on our failures and ignore our successes - and the result is cancer phobia. Big pharma loves phobias, even those without medical names - because they can be used to sell more "preventatives and treatments that don't cure." Cures decrease fear, and we must not speak about them. Most cancer doctors avoid the word cure and teach coworkers and staff to do the same.

Expand full comment

Thanks for this article - as a community we need to get better at helping advise patients about how to live with low-grade or early-stage cancer and the risks of significant preventative surgery. This impacts how we define risk management for cancer Dx.

Expand full comment