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Cracking cancer’s code: Stanford Medicine magazine reports on treatments and developments

Learn about chemo brain and what's new in cancer treatment, research and education in Stanford Medicine magazine's new issue highlighting the disease.

What causes chemo brain? How can a smart toilet help detect cancer? And what is the latest from Lucy Kalanithi, MD, the widow of Paul Kalanithi, MD, the former Stanford neurosurgeon and author of When Breath Becomes Air?

You'll find insights on these topics and more in the new issue of Stanford Medicine magazine.

For this edition, we wanted to shine a light on the latest developments in the fight against an age-old menace -- and despite the somber topic, you'll find plenty of rays of hope.

Did you know, for example, that the phenomenon of chemo brain -- the cognitive problems many cancer patients report after chemotherapy -- is not due to depression over having cancer? For years, cancer experts thought the mental fog had a psychological origin, but it turns out the cause is chemotherapy drugs. You can read about research into how to prevent and treat it, and listen to an interview with the lead researcher, Michelle Monje, MD, PhD.

Lung cancer took the life of Paul Kalanithi when he was just 38, but his words live on in his bestselling memoir. Five years after his death, we checked in with his widow, who is a clinical assistant professor in primary care and population health at Stanford. In a Q&A, Lucy Kalanithi talks about grieving a loved one, and about how she and their daughter keep Paul Kalanithi's memory alive. A link to the full conversation is included in the online story.

And how about some promising news? We have a roundup of advances in new cancer diagnostic tools and treatments -- including a smart toilet -- that are part of the reason cancer is often survivable today.

Also in the issue, you'll find an excerpt from Discovering Precision Health, a new book by Lloyd Minor, MD, dean of the School of Medicine, with Matthew Rees. It describes a holistic approach to transforming health care: keep people healthy by preventing disease before it starts and personalize the treatment of individuals precisely, based on their specific profile. All royalties from the book go to Stanford University.

Other stories in our cancer package include a look into why teens and young adults are less likely to be cured than people of other ages; a peek inside Stanford's next-generation tumor board, which uses genomics to find solutions for difficult cancer cases; and an article and video about a Stanford class that pairs medical students with hospital patients during their first year of medical school.

These and many other insights into cancer await in Stanford Medicine magazine's latest issue.

Illustration by Keith Negley

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