Tuesday, November 10, 2009

In March, I wrote about prostate cancer for the Los Angeles Times, after radio talk show host Don Imus announced he had the disease. Two large studies found that screening for the cancer has had a negligible effect on how many men die from the disease. Rather, more men are getting tests and treatments that may expose them to more harm than the disease itself. One big problem is doctors' inability to determine which prostate cancers will morph into killers and which will remain harmless. One doctor I talked to put it this way, "Prostate cancer is like the cat family. You have house cats and you have tigers."

I wrote several stories for the spring 2009 issue of the Dean's Discovery Report, a biannual newsletter that features faculty researchers and new facilities and centers at the medical school campus of Virginia Commonwealth University.

In the April issue of Nature Biotechnology (subscription only), I reported on a new medicine approved for the treatment of gout -- Uloric (febuxostat) -- the first in 40 years. Three more new drugs are moving through clinical trials and drug-makers are hopeful about their approval by the FDA. The new drugs offer more choices to the limited options doctors have had for decades. And gout, yet another disease of our overconsumptive sedentary lifestyle, is on the rise.

(Image by 19th century caricaturist James Gillray.)