We’ve been waiting for years. The FDA today approved the first-ever “anti-cancer vaccine.” Provenge, made by blossoming biotech company Dendreon in Seattle, is a personalized therapy designed to give a second chance for a patient’s own immune system to beat back advanced prostate cancer. It is, by no means, for every prostate cancer patient (more than 200,000 men are diagnosed in the U.S. each year and almost 30,000 die from the disease). The drug, which is pretty complicated to make from a patient’s own cells, does not take the place of active surveillance for men with low risk prostate cancer,...

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This has been a whirlwind week as I work on, learn more about, and use health communications online and, before long, on smartphones. First let me call your attention to our just-posted “Patient Power Health Issues” discussion on where health on the Internet is going: does it make your life easier, does it make it easier for your doctor? Is it just on your computer? No! Our discussion even includes how your bathroom scale will have an internet address and send data to your health record and, if you want, to your doctor. Our discussion with the “gurus” in the...

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Cancer Vaccine: Countdown to Approval? from Patient Power® on Vimeo.By May 1st, the FDA owes a response to the manufacturer of what could be the first vaccine to fight advanced cancer. Could that be approval or more questions from the FDA? We’re not sure. The hope is vaccines to energize your immune system to fight the cancer you already have are not far off.

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My youngest child, Eitan, is 13 today and we are all looking forward to his Bar Mitzvah (Jewish coming of age ceremony) next weekend. This morning Esther and I took Eitan out for a bagel breakfast before school. He loves the attention, of course. Any parent would rejoice in having a growing, healthy kid, but for Esther and I Eitan is special in another way. That’s because not only is this the 13th anniversary of Eitan’s birth, it is the 14th anniversary of my diagnosis with leukemia. As you can imagine, our world was rocked when, at age 45, I...

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When it comes to health communications, right now we are in a bit of a disconnect. Here’s what I mean: This is the new age of Patient Empowerment, right? I think the answer is yes, as study after study shows smarter patients do better when they are more informed about the health issues facing them. That should be good for everybody. But health communications has not caught up. Traditionally health communications has been “medical communications,” educational programs for doctors, nurses pharmacists, etc. Beyond that health communications has mostly been for disadvantaged people, minority populations, and people who were already really...

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Consider Integrative Medicine from Patient Power® on Vimeo.

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I made the trek today, in the gloomy and changeable Seattle Spring weather, to my six month cancer checkup. The routine is this: blood draw about 30 minutes before seeing my community oncologist and friend Dr. Andrew Jacobs. While I dread the day we have bad results to talk about, hoping that will never come, today’s visit was, once again, routine and only continued good news. We spoke about our families, Passover tonight, and health care reform. My blood test results were virtually all normal. That led to a brief acknowledgment that the three drug combination I received almost 10...

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The other day, before Sunday’s vote in the House of Representatives, I wrote an email to a congressman from my home state, Washington, who was “on the fence” about healthcare reform. Brian Baird does not represent my district, a conservative Republican does, Dave Reichert. Reichert was in lock step with the Republican leadership and went on TV Sunday to tell a tale of woe about the pending legislation. Meanwhile Brian Baird, a Democrat, must have read my email and so many others and did, in the end, vote yes. Thank goodness! Why am I a supporter of this imperfect step...

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OK. It has come down to this week: Will Democrats, on their own, pass the start of what could be pivotal healthcare reform legislation? I am one who is hoping they will and will be hopping mad if they don’t. I am praying key Democratic Congressmen will vote for what’s good for the country and not worry only about some ultra-conservative in their district. Is the legislation perfect? No. Have thousands of lobbyists for unions and every segment of healthcare spent millions of dollars crawling all over this? Yes. Now, with the President pushing, it is “showtime.” Millions who are...

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Speaking up for Yourself to Avoid a Medical Mistake from Patient Power® on Vimeo.

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