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Craig R. Hildreth, MD

Craig R. Hildreth, MD

Dr. Hildreth is a medical oncologist in private practice.

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Dear Patient—Although the circumstances were stressful, it was indeed a pleasure meeting you and your family today. There are words I wanted to say to you today but didn’t, for fear of distracting you from the immediate plan and also, I must admit, out of a certain degree of evasiveness.

A review of the rules of the road for doctors, because everyone remembers their first license.

Gentle reader, the hour is late. As the poet said, almost all of the grains of sand allotted to 2016 have sifted down onto the pyramid of memory. Before this year’s hourglass empties, though, let’s take a moment to reflect on some of the phenomena we observed during the past months in this esoteric branch of medicine.

The relationship between oncologists and their patients is labor-intensive and arouses great emotions. The specter of death is always in the shadows; as it waits patiently, it makes conversations poignant. Oncologists should be skilled in soothing the fears of their patients without appearing trite or patronizing.

I am inspired to finally see the increasing role of immuno-oncology agents in the treatment of cancer, and ASCO 2016 was loaded with fascinating updates on this subject.

No matter where you practice medicine, if your duties include patient care then you are going to interact with other oncologists. In some cases you may question the quality of their care. Help your peers to become better physicians by respecting them first, then relaying your concerns to them. Here are some examples of how not to do it, paired with kinder, gentler alternatives.

Oncologists are excited to relay the news to patients that hard-to-treat tumors benefit from a new type of immunotherapy called checkpoint inhibition, but is there a way to explain this without putting everyone in the room to sleep?

Everyone wants their doctor to be compassionate, but what about leadership? Cancer patients may be looking for these seven traits of leadership in their oncologists.

How arduous is it to transform a typical practice into a community oncology medical home? Let’s compare the characteristics of the ideal community oncology medical home as defined by Innovative Oncology Business Solutions with our practice’s current habits.

Former President Jimmy Carter, who is being treated for metastatic malignant melanoma, announced that a follow-up scan revealed that four brain metastases were gone. Several headlines described the president as being “cancer free,” a choice of words that must be interpreted with caution.


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