Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Dr. Oz

Dr. Oz, TV personality and  cardiothoracic surgeon, had a couple of special guests yesterday -- talk show host Montel Williams, and his daughter Maressa Williams. Unfortunately, Manessa was recently diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma. She's 24 years old.

Montel and Maressa decided this would be an excellent opportunity to educate people -- especially young women, who are seeing a rise in Hodgkin's Lymphoma diagnoses. "Know your body" is Maressa's excellent advice. She will be blogging about her experience, hoping to educate others about the disease.

And I applaud her for that. As we close out a month dedicated to raising breast cancer awareness, it's nice to remember that the color of our shoelaces and the frosting on our cupcakes doesn't raise awareness nearly as much as the stories that patients tell. I admire anyone who goes forward with their disease like this.

I wish I could say the same about Dr. Oz.

His brief explanation of Hodgkin's Lymphoma is not good -- misleading and misinforming.

He uses some serious hyperbole to explain stage 4: "They [the lymph nodes] get so large that you become one big lymph node, basically." Seriously?
He presents staging as a series of downward-traveling node swellings: Stage 1, the nodes in the neck swell. Stage 2, it travels to the chest. Stage 3, to the spleen. Stage 4, the groin. 

Yeah....not quite. Lymphomas, including Hodgkin's, can start anywhere, and staging is not quite so "subway-ish," to use his comparison. Here's the Mayo Clinic's more accurate description:

  • Stage I. The cancer is limited to one lymph node region or a single organ.
  • Stage II. In this stage, the cancer is in two different lymph nodes or the cancer is in a portion of tissue or an organ and nearby lymph nodes. But the cancer is still limited to a section of the body either above or below the diaphragm.
  • Stage III. When the cancer moves to lymph nodes both above and below the diaphragm, it's considered stage III. Cancer may also be in one portion of tissue or an organ near the lymph node groups or in the spleen.
  • Stage IV. This is the most advanced stage of Hodgkin's lymphoma. Cancer cells are in several portions of one or more organs and tissues. Stage IV Hodgkin's lymphoma affects not only the lymph nodes but also other parts of your body, such as the liver, lungs or bones.
In the end, they are pretty minor inaccuracies (especially compared to some of the other things he gets wrong). But it bugs me when someone who has such a large platform doesn't do his homework. I get the "one big lymph node" exaggeration -- he's on TV, and he needs to make things entertaining, or alarming, or whatever will get people to watch.

But he's also a doctor, and his first responsibility is to present accurate information to people who turn to him for information.

I'm sending all good thoughts to Maressa and her family. I hope things go easily and well for her, and I look forward to reading about her experiences.


Stumpy said...

Yes, little brother. This is one of the things that you and I agree on. Dr Oz is nothing but a fraud in my mind. I could say many things, but , he piggy backed Oprah to claim his fame as her Dr. Not much more to say. except, i think i read that he was on the Obamacare advisory committee. Be afraid of his advice, Very afraid.

Lymphomaniac said...

I think at some point he's going to have to say "I'm not a doctor, but I play one on TV." It's the danger of taking on too much outside of a specialty; there's just too much to know in order to be effective.

Anonymous said...

I took him on his word about how you can shed pounds using Carcinia Cambogia. I does not work, not one oz. Dr. Oz said he had no financial interest and I hope he does not. That little company selling his recommend stuff sure is charging my credit without my ordering any thing other than the one-time free offer. I took the offer and agreed on S/H but they continue to send me their stuff and charging me anyway.