Cancer Cuts

By Scott LaFee

December 4, 2019 5 min read

As cancer rates increase, the number of doctors trained to treat cancer patients is declining. A new report by Doximity — an online networking service for doctors — says the primary driver is more oncologists are retiring than new ones are being produced.

The shortage will not hit evenly, with cities like Miami, North Port, Florida, and New York City having higher-than-average numbers of oncologists above retirement age, while Houston and Portland are less at risk.

Women with breast cancer may feel the pain especially hard, particularly in cities like Buffalo, New York, and Hartford, Connecticut, which have oncologist shortages and higher rates of breast cancer.

Body of Knowledge

Humans are born, on average, with approximately 5 million hair follicles, of which only 100,000 or so are on the scalp.

Stories for the Waiting Room

The first national, universal living donor registry has been launched.

Interested persons will be able to sign up to become living donors, registering saliva samples through at-home matching kits. The effort, coordinated with local transplant networks and the United Network for Organ Sharing, will match donors with potential recipients.

Living donor transplants include kidneys (the most common), liver and — more rarely — lung, intestine and pancreas. The registry is expected to go live next spring. The living donor registry is intended to help reduce the current backlog of more than 113,000 on waitlists for an organ.

Doc Talk

Cataplexy: A sudden, brief loss of voluntary muscle tone and weakness, often triggered by strong emotions such as laughter, fear or stress. It is associated with narcolepsy, a chronic neurological disorder that affects the brain's ability to control sleep-wake cycles, but occurs during waking hours.

Mania of the Week

Aboulomania: Pathological indecisiveness

Best Medicine

First guy: "You look terrible. Bad night?"

Second guy: "Yeah. I stayed awake all night trying to remember whether I have amnesia or insomnia."

Hypochondriac's Guide

Morgellons disease is a very rare disorder characterized by the presence of fibers embedded in or erupting from unbroken skin or slow-healing sores. The phenomenon may be accompanied by sensations of crawling, biting or stinging on and in the skin.

The cause is unknown. Some doctors treat it as a psychiatric condition; others argue the symptoms are related to an infectious process in skin cells.


"Diets are for those who are thick and tired of it." — Actress Mary Tyler Moore (1936-2017)

Medical History

This week in 1982, Dr. William C. DeVries replaced the diseased heart of 61-year-old Barney Clark with the Jarvik-7, the first permanent artificial heart to be used in a human patient. Clark survived for 112 days. Only four others received the Jarvik as a permanent replacement heart, the longest living an additional 620 days. After that, the Jarvik device was used only as a temporary stopgap while patients awaited real heart transplants.

Ig Nobel Apprised

The Ig Nobel Prizes celebrate achievements that make people laugh and then think. A look at real science that's hard to take seriously, and even harder to ignore.

In 2016, the Ig Nobel Prize in Psychology went to a group of European researchers who asked 1,000 people between the ages of 6 and 77 about how often and how well they lied. They found that both lying frequency and proficiency rose during childhood, peaked in young adulthood and then declined through later adulthood.

Whether the data is believable — it was published in the journal Acta Psychology — depends on whether you believe the folks interviewed.

Med School

Q: What percentage of total adult body weight is made up by blood?

A: The average adult contains a bit over 5 quarts of blood, which works out to roughly 8% of total body weight. Exceptions include pregnant women, who can produce up to 50% more blood to help nourish a developing fetus.

Curtain Calls

Sir William Payne-Gallwey (1807-1881) was an English politician and member of the House of Commons for almost 30 years. One year after stepping down, he was out shooting in the parish of Bagby when he tripped over a turnip, sustaining severe internal injuries. He died a few days later.

To find out more about Scott LaFee and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

Photo credit: Couleur at Pixabay

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