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Dr. Elaine Schattner
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Dr. Elaine Schattner is a writer and physician with a unique perspective on medicine. Her views on healthcare are informed by her experiences since childhood with scoliosis, and as an adult with breast cancer and other health conditions.

After graduating from Yale College, Elaine received her medical degree at the NYU School of Medicine. After completing a residency in internal medicine, and fellowship in cancer and blood diseases, she performed research in cancer immunology and cared for patients with all kinds of malignancies. She has been on the faculty of Weill Cornell Medical College since 1993.

Elaine is writing her first book, on changing public attitudes toward cancer. Her freelance work has appeared in the Pacific Standard, Scientific American, Slate, The New York Times, the New York Observer, the Atlantic, Cure magazine and elsewhere.

She occasionally posts about cancer, medical news, ethics and health care on her personal blog, Medical Lessons. You can follow Elaine on Twitter.

Entries by Dr. Elaine Schattner

Can Doctors Thrive?

(0) Comments | Posted April 30, 2014 | 4:00 PM

Arianna Huffington has a new book out called Thrive, and the subtitle begins to explain, "the Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder."

And sure, there's a conflict of interest by writing about Huffington's work on here; she is the CEO...

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New Mammography Article Points to the Need for Better Ways to Detect Breast Cancer

(0) Comments | Posted April 4, 2014 | 1:42 PM

This week the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published yet another article on mammography and breast cancer screening.

The new report comes from Drs. Lydia Pace and Nancy Keating, both physicians with public health degrees and appointments at Harvard-affiliated institutions. The article has value, and...

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"The Death of Bessie Smith" in a Brooklyn Hospital Speaks to Limited Health Care Access, Anywhere

(0) Comments | Posted February 7, 2014 | 2:59 PM

In a hospital in Brooklyn, you might hear the voice of Bessie Smith. That's because the New Brooklyn Theater has set a rare production of Edward Albee's 1959 play, The Death of Bessie Smith, inside Interfaith Medical Center. But you won't see an actress cast in...

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A Call for Clarity on Mammography's Benefits and the Value of Early Detection

(2) Comments | Posted January 2, 2014 | 12:42 PM

It's a holiday week. But when the New York Times published another op-ed by Dr. H. Gilbert Welch of the Dartmouth Institute on yet another, misleading two-author analysis of breast cancer screening by him and one other scientist, I thought it worth noting some concerns.


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New, Metastatic Breast Cancer Alliance Sets a Cooperative Tone

(2) Comments | Posted October 15, 2013 | 3:34 PM

This October, there's some encouraging news on the breast cancer front. Yes, there are new drugs in the pipeline and ongoing trials -- the same old, real progress, slow as usual. Until last week, that is, when there came a hint of meaningful change in the breast cancer...

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New Study Finds Most Breast Cancer Deaths Happen in Women Who Don't Get Screened -- Should You Care?

(9) Comments | Posted September 13, 2013 | 1:24 PM

An intriguing new study found that the vast majority of deaths from breast cancer occur among women who didn't have routine mammography. The report, published in the journal Cancer, applied "failure analysis" -- a way, typically used in engineering to see what might have gone wrong...

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For Some Women With Breast Cancer, a Long Time on Tamoxifen

(0) Comments | Posted June 5, 2013 | 10:11 AM

At the annual meeting of the American Society in Clinical Oncology, oncologists highlighted the unpublished, updated results of a large, long-term trial from the U.K. involving thousands of women with early-stage breast cancer. The aTTom study findings adds to the emerging consensus that pre-menopausal women with estrogen receptor...

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Patenting Human Genes Harms People

(3) Comments | Posted April 15, 2013 | 3:39 PM

Today the U.S. Supreme Court will review a case about a company's ownership of human gene sequences. The issue, involving Myriad Genetics and patents related two cancer-linked molecules, BRCA1 and BRCA2, seems straightforward, so much so I considered not writing on it. After all, how could...

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What Needs to Be Done About the Rising Rate of Advanced Breast Cancer in Young Women

(0) Comments | Posted March 1, 2013 | 3:17 PM

This week the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that the incidence of young women presenting to doctors with Stage IV breast cancer has been climbing. For those affected by the disease between the ages of 25 and 39, the number who first learn they have cancer...

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Reading the Fine Print on Cancer Treatment and Side Effects

(3) Comments | Posted January 17, 2013 | 2:00 PM

Last week, the Annals of Oncology published a new report on bias in reports on breast cancer trials. The investigators analyzed how clearly, or not, academic journals represent clinical findings. They looked at spin -- what you might call "hype" -- about positive results, and how clearly the...

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Beyond Pink: What Matters for Future Progress Against Breast Cancer

(6) Comments | Posted October 29, 2012 | 1:12 PM

October's fading. This year, it seems like Breast Cancer Awareness Month has taken on a subdued, faded tone. The pink ads and ribbons, so ubiquitous in recent memory, appear smaller and farther between. Last weekend, as marchers in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer passed through my neighborhood,...

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New Findings on X-Ray Risks Pose Dilemma for Young Women Prone to Developing Breast Cancer

(14) Comments | Posted September 14, 2012 | 12:39 PM

Last week delivered some disconcerting news for people with a specific, strong inherited high risk for developing cancer. An analysis published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) found that young women with BRCA mutations are more likely to develop breast cancer if they've had more diagnostic...

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Hope Rules! On the Supreme Court's Ruling on Obamacare

(2) Comments | Posted June 29, 2012 | 11:22 AM

My heart leaped upon hearing the SCOTUS decision on Obamacare. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the central components of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This decision, a huge victory for patients, offers a message of hope -- one that's relevant not just to politics...

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Novel Drug Shows Promise in Her2+ Form of Breast Cancer

(2) Comments | Posted June 6, 2012 | 11:15 AM

This weekend, researchers at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology presented new findings on a novel agent that targets some forms of breast cancer. The new drug, called T-DM1, is designed to deliver a toxic chemotherapy directly to tumor cells....

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Scientists Identify 10 Molecular Types of Breast Cancer -- How Long Until Progress Reaches the Clinic?

(5) Comments | Posted May 3, 2012 | 3:19 PM

Doctors have understood for decades that breast cancer is not one disease. Still, and with few exceptions, knowledge of breast cancer genetics -- information on cancer-causing mutations in the malignant cells -- has lagged. Here's the paradox: Because effective treatments exist for most patients with this disease, the...

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Rough Language and Real Politics Jeopardize Women's Health

(5) Comments | Posted March 8, 2012 | 5:32 PM

Like most women, physicians and mothers of my generation in the U.S., I've been fortunate to learn of deaths from wire hangers and shady abortionists only indirectly. Last week I realized that I've taken women's health, or what's really at issue -- women's access to needed care --...

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Seeing the Metastatic Side of Breast Cancer

(0) Comments | Posted October 13, 2011 | 5:52 PM

Susan Niebur is a 38-year-old mom and astrophysicist who lives near Washington, D.C. In most mornings, lately, she chats with her husband as he drives to a medical center for her near-daily radiation treatments. She has metastatic breast cancer (MBC) that's spread to her spine and other bones.


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Why It Makes Sense To Keep Avastin Available For Women With Metastatic Breast Cancer

(3) Comments | Posted August 3, 2011 | 9:22 AM

In late June, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) held an unusual, open-door and emotionally-packed meeting of its Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee (ODAC). The topic was Avastin, a costly cancer treatment. The panel listened to testimony from women, including my cousin, about their ongoing cancer treatments. It heard,...

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Considering Geraldine Ferraro, and Progress in Myeloma Treatment--Past and Future

(8) Comments | Posted March 30, 2011 | 9:00 AM

Like many New Yorkers, might-be feminists, hematologists and others, I was saddened to learn of Geraldine Ferraro's death. The Depression-era born mother, public school teacher, attorney, criminal prosecutor, Congresswoman, 1984 Democratic VP-candidate and otherwise accomplished woman from this region, succumbed to complications of multiple myeloma at...

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New Study Supports Less Surgery for Breast Cancer

(6) Comments | Posted February 11, 2011 | 1:32 PM

A new report in the Journal of the American Medical Association may influence -- and reduce -- surgical treatment for many women diagnosed with breast cancer. The key finding is that for women with apparently limited disease before lumpectomy and what's called a positive sentinel node,...

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