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On ‘Sound Medicine’: Flu myths, pricey cancer drugs, and possible women’s health care funding cuts


Flu myths vs. reality: What’s the difference? Deanna Willis, M.D., associate professor of family medicine and vice chair of research in the Department of Family Medicine at the IU School of Medicine, discusses the differences between the common cold, the flu and the respiratory syncytial virus that’s been affecting children. According to Willis, peak flu season begins in January and typically lasts 12 weeks. The early onset of flu season this year has resulted in public health emergencies in several states, restricted hospital visits and a lot of miserable people.

How much could cancer cost you? Aaron Carroll, M.D., M.S., director for the Center for Health Policy and Professionalism Research and associate professor of pediatrics at the IU School of Medicine, discusses Memorial Sloane-Kettering Hospital’s decision to stop prescribing the $11,063-per-month drug Zaltrap for its patients with advanced colon cancer. Zaltrap’s less expensive competitors work just as well and are available at a fraction of the cost. According to Carroll, Sloane-Kettering officials’ decision to offer less expensive drug choices is the right decision.

Doc Chat: Breast cancer and chemo brain: Kathy Miller, M.D., of “Sound Medicine” discusses why many women fighting cancer in one breast are opting to remove both with a double mastectomy. According to Miller, those with a family history of breast cancer or genetic abnormalities can decrease the risk of recurrence by having a double mastectomy. However, women with no family history and cancer in only one breast do not decrease the odds of recurrence by removing both breasts. The recurrence doctors worry most about is metastasis to the bone, liver or lungs, Miller says. She also discusses chemo brain and the recent research that suggests the mental fog actually starts before cancer treatment begins.

Doc Chat: Women’s health care funding: Theresa Rohr-Kirchgraber, M.D., healthy living expert for “Sound Medicine,” discusses how cuts to health care funding could affect research regarding women’s health issues and the importance of research dollars focused on women’s health care.

Overstated research results: Where do we draw the line? Gary Schwitzer, publisher for, discusses how too good to be true initial drug studies’ results usually are. In a study conducted at Stanford, researchers found that spectacular results from initial studies are usually exaggerated by the small sample size. Schwitzer advises patients to take these studies with a grain of salt, especially if the report focuses on a small study or the research is conducted in a lab.

Making the transition from doctor to journalist: Norleena Gullett, M.D., discusses her time as an intern at ABC News’ national health desk. Gullett, a radiation oncology resident at the IU School of Medicine, was selected to work for ABC in October as a medical journalist. This unique opportunity allows a handful of residents from across the U.S. to develop health care segments for Diane Sawyer, Dr. Richard Besser, Yahoo and “Good Morning America.” Gullett said she participated in the medical journalism elective to better her understanding of how medical information is communicated to the public.

“Sound Medicine” covers controversial ethics topics, breakthrough research studies and the day-to-day application of recent advancements in medicine. It’s also available via podcast and Stitcher Radio for mobile phones and iPads and posts updates on Facebook and Twitter.

“Sound Medicine,” co-produced by the IU School of Medicine and WFYI Public Radio (90.1 FM) and underwritten in part by Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, is aired on the following Indiana public radio stations: WBSB (Anderson, 89.5 FM), WFIU (Bloomington, 103.7 FM; Columbus, 100.7 FM; Kokomo, 106.1 FM; Terre Haute, 95.1 FM), WNDY (Crawfordsville, 91.3 FM), WVPE (Elkhart/South Bend, 88.1 FM), WNIN (Evansville, 88.3 FM), WBOI (Fort Wayne, 89.1 FM), WFCI (Franklin, 89.5 FM), WBSH (Hagerstown/New Castle, 91.1 FM), WFYI (Indianapolis), WBSW (Marion, 90.9 FM), WBST (Muncie, 92.1 FM), WBSJ (Portland, 91.7 FM), WLPR (Lake County, 89.1 FM) and WBAA (West Lafayette, 101.3 FM).

“Sound Medicine” is also broadcast on these public radio stations across the country: KSKA (Anchorage, Alaska), KTNA (Talkeetna, Alaska), KUHB (Pribilof Islands, Alaska), KUAF (Fayetteville and Fort Smith, Ark.), KIDE (Hoopa Valley, Calif.), KRCC (Colorado Springs, Colo.), KEDM (Monroe, La.), WCMU (Mount Pleasant, Mich.), WCNY and WRVO-1 (Syracuse, N.Y.), KMHA (Four Bears, N.D.), WYSU (Youngstown, Ohio), KPOV (Bend, Ore.) and KEOS (College Station, Texas).