By the time you read this, you will have weathered another holiday season with too many parties, too much food, and yes, too much eggnog! You are maybe feeling a little disappointed with yourself for all of this overindulgence. Perhaps you are staring at the scale with a wary eye and wondering how disciplined you can be on your keto diet, not to mention your new, aggressive workout program. Oh wait; that is how I feel! Chances are you never started down that rabbit hole in the first place. Good for you!
To assuage my misery, I looked at last January’s “Oncology Watch,” hoping to be satisfied that I had at least kept my professional promises and followed through with last year’s resolution: to become a smarter doctor. At the time, I was full of resolve to use every new drug approval as a learning opportunity and to read a major scientific review at least once a week.
I have to be honest here: I didn’t even come close. Actually, I thought I had kept up with drug approvals. After all, we get hundreds of email blasts for each one. How could I avoid it? But I checked the FDA website, and of 41 approvals, 9 were for cancer drugs. And I didn’t have a clue about 2 of those 9. Well, I know about them now, since I looked them up tonight. And I have to admit they are pretty interesting new compounds!
This all gets me to thinking about how difficult it must be for the average doc in practice to keep up. I work in an academic environment where I actually have designated time to think and do my homework when there is a new scientific breakthrough. And if I can’t find something I’m looking for, I can simply call on a colleague to point me in the right direction.
But if you are a busy practicing oncologist, you really do have to stay on top of new drug approvals, often across many diseases. You are probably seeing patients 4 days a week, with maybe a day for paperwork or reading. From my interactions with community oncologists in the Bay Area, it’s pretty clear that they do a masterful job of keeping up with new developments. Hats off to them!
As for me, I am holding the line and keeping the same resolution. Every new drug will stay on my radar, and I will master the mechanism of action, the indication, and the side effects. And I promise to read at least one in-depth review of selected topics every week. I will do it!
Thanks for hearing me out. In closing, I wish for all of you good health and much happiness in the New Year. Cheers!