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Thirty U.S. states have enacted medical cannabis laws, and all but one of them include cancer in the list of conditions allowed. Such laws give cancer patients across the country access to a substance that remains illegal under federal law. Anecdotal reports suggest it’s helpful in managing symptoms of chemotherapy, like pain and nausea.

Medicare is going to test new ways to reimburse doctors for medications, in hopes they'll choose less expensive drugs.

The plan would alter Medicare Part B, which pays for medicines administered in doctors offices or outpatient hospital clinics — to eliminate incentives for doctors to use the most expensive drugs.

Starting back in medical school, oncologist Anthony Back observed a disconnect between the way doctors talked to terminal patients about next steps, and the way doctors talked to each other. He worried that patients weren't receiving news about the need to transition to end-of-life care in a way they could process and understand. So he conducted a study: he filmed several of these talks between doctors and their patients.

When President Richard Nixon declared a war on cancer in 1971, there were high hopes that scientists were close enough to understanding the underlying causes that many cures were within reach.

We obviously haven't won the war.

In fact, a prominent cancer biologist argues that the conceptual framework for understanding cancer has come full circle over the past 40 years.

preparing for radiation therapy
Lauren Weghorst

 In this latest edition in our continuing series of conversations about cancer with Dr. Flockhart, he answers the question: "Where do you think American policy on cancer really needs to improve?" In his opinion, the biggest impact would come from not more technology or better science, but people who could help patients navigate their treatment. Here are his words:

A Cancer Cell Detective Story: How Immunotherapy Works

Dec 18, 2014

The human immune system operates like a highly trained security team, but cancer cells still sometimes evade it. Now, scientists are developing molecules which can help the immune system detect and destroy cancer cells.  Medical oncologist and immunotherapy researcher Daniel Chen, M.D., Ph.D., created this animated video to show how the science works.

How Immunotherapy Is Helping The Fight Against Cancer

Dec 5, 2014
A. Currell/Flickr.com

The emerging science of immunotherapy is helping in the fight against cancer. Science writer for the blog Biotech Strategy, Pieter Droppert, and medical oncologist and immunotherapy scientist Dr. Daniel Chen discuss this new field. Read on for a excerpt or click above to listen to the whole interview. Want to learn more? Watch an animated video from Dr. Chen.

On why immunotherapy is so important:

Precision Medicine Puts Lung Cancer In Its Sights

Nov 21, 2014
lung cancer scan
Balazs Halmos/Columbia University Medical Center

In the clinic where Balazs Halmos, MD, treats patients twice a week, individuals who have been smokers confront their diagnosis with a sense of guilt, while those with advanced diagnoses believe they have been given a death sentence and think clinicians throw toxic treatments at them to no real effect.

A New Drug May Help With Melanoma

Oct 5, 2014

The FDA recently approved (through its accelerated approval process) a new melanoma drug called Keytruda. Experts are enthusiastic about the potential of this and similar drugs in the pipeline.  

Cancer experts are calling a new melanoma drug one example of a whole new avenue of cancer treatments. They work by using the body's own immune system to battle the cancer cells. The new drug is called Keytruda. Dr. Evan Lipson of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine spoke with Sound Medicine to explain why this drug is getting so much buzz.