Chief Resident Adds Author to His Credentials

When discussing a new cancer diagnosis or treatment plan with his patients, “Even an hour-long appointment feels like a very short period of time,” says Stephen Rosenberg, MD, chief resident of radiation oncology at the UW Carbone Cancer Center.

After referring patients to online resources or books, he found a lot of the information to be poorly written and, in some cases, full of misinformation. And it was not just his assumptions: Rosenberg and his colleagues in radiation oncology published studies on readability of cancer information at National Cancer Institute-designated Centers, such as UW Carbone. They found that on average, these websites presented information at the college reading level.

Around the same time, Rosenberg’s father was diagnosed with colon cancer.

“I was there to advocate for him and speak on his behalf, but how lost would he have been without having someone who’s in oncology to help do that?” Rosenberg says. “That helped drive it home even more: we need easy-to-understand resources to help people better understand their diagnosis, treatment and outcomes.”

Rosenberg was disheartened about the lack of information available to his patients, and he discussed the issue with his wife.

“I remember saying to her that there should be better resources available, but there just weren’t,” Rosenberg recalls. “She said, ‘You can do it!’ And I said, ‘Haha, very funny,’ but she said, ‘No really, you should.’ So with her encouragement, I decided to write a book.”

That book, available November 6, is titled Cancer: What You Need to Know.

“In it, I touch on the big processes of cancer as a whole, how we think about it and treat it. Because in my experience patients are looking for the big picture right off the bat,” Rosenberg says. “I think the most important thing is that I identify the ten biggest mistakes I see patients make and how to overcome them, and help lead patients to the right questions to ask their providers.”

The book includes general information for cancer patients, families and caregivers, such as:

  • An intro to cancer, diagnosis and treatments. For example, what is a biopsy and why is it important? When and how are surgery, radiation, chemotherapy or immunotherapy used?
  • Why seeking early involvement in palliative care is useful for pain management and improved quality of life
  • The benefits of incorporating integrative medicine, such as yoga or acupuncture, in addition to seeking spiritual and/or emotional support
  • Avoiding “miracle cures” or people trying to take advantage of cancer patients with false promises

Even the layout of the book was designed to be easy to digest. Though 200 pages long, Rosenberg says that length was intentional to keep the text spaced out with shorter paragraphs and sentences. Cancer: What You Need to Know can be ordered at Amazon, but Rosenberg is not pocketing any of the profits.


“There is a cost associated with printing the book, but I am going to use any profits to buy more books to give away in cancer clinics,” Rosenberg says. “Trying to get this information in the hands of as many people as possible is important. It’s important to me, and it’s important to patients and family members.”


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Date Published: 11/08/2017

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