Research and Patients
There are inevitably tensions between researchers and patients. When can information be shared? How do we know the real potential of a new finding or drug? When does it make sense to move from the bench to the bedside, from focus on the science to focus on clinical needs.
This is a short article about a brief intense conversation between an advocate and a scientist at the recent San Antonio meetings. Although this is short (and, again, I will give you a quote and then a link), it includes links to more substantive background if you are interested.
Breast Cancer Research: Forgetting the Patients?
The researchers found that the size of SLN metastasis was an independent predictor of disease-free survival and overall survival on multivariate analysis, along with histological grade, age, clinical tumor size, number of positive axillary nodes, and adjuvant therapy.
At the end of his presentation, Dr. Julian noted that a paper based on a B-32 sub-study on whether isolated tumor cells and micrometastases affect patient outcomes will appear in an upcoming issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
This happens a lot at medical meetings. Some data are presented, but some are also reserved for publication. After the presentation a session moderator asked if it was safe to assume that because H&E-detected micrometastases did not result in worse survival than node-negative disease that the same would be true for the immuno-detected micrometastases.
Dr. Julian's answer: "One could assume that, but you have to wait for the paper." Again, I hear this a lot at medical meetings, and I didn't think too much about it.
That was until a patient advocate worked up the nerve later in the session to take Dr. Julian and the research establishment to task for the way that medical research findings are typically doled out.