Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Oncologists vs. Cardiologists

Attending a wide variety of medical conferences, I've learned that it's true that different medical specialties attract different personalities—or perhaps different medical specialties subtly mold their practitioners. I'll have a lot more to say about this coming posts, but for now I'd like to relate an amusing story about one of the differences between oncologists and cardiologists.

The science writer Beryl Lieff Benderly, a veteran of many medical conferences, began to notice a difference in the kind of food served at cardiology and oncology meetings. The cardiologists snacked on fresh fruit and low-fat yogurt, and at their banquets, they invariably ate a heart-healthy diet: salads with a small amount of dressing on the side, lots of steamed vegetables, and maybe a little lean meat, such as a dry slab of chicken breast. Oncologists, on the other hand, snacked on doughnuts and sweet rolls, and their banquets tended to include a generous slab of the original red meat, beautifully marbled with fat, with side dishes swimming in butter and covered with cheese.

Sitting next to an oncologist at one of these banquets, Beryl asked about this difference. The oncologist replied, "Ah, that's because we oncologists know something the cardiologists don't."

"What's that?" Beryl asked.

"We know that, given a choice, you want to die of heart disease!"

Monday, October 30, 2006


I'm medical journalist, and I go to a lot of medical meetings. Some are large, and some are small. Some mostly present new research, and some are primarily devoted to continuing medical education (CME). Some are great, and some suck.

I intend to use this blog to discuss many different aspects of medical meetings, from the quality of research that's presented, to the food that's served during breaks, to the swag that's available in the exhibit hall.

I've chosen Rouche as my nom de plume in honor of Berton Rouche, who for many years wrote the New Yorker's Annals of Medicine column.

I hope you enjoy this, and I welcome your comments.

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