This week, Dr. Amy Abernethy, Program Director of the Duke Cancer Care Research Program, will join Dr. Galati and discuss symptoms that may seem harmless, but can all be red flags for cancer.
Dr. Abernethy is the Program Director of the Duke Cancer Care Research Program, Associate Professor of Medicine with Tenure in the Division of Medical Oncology, Department of Medicine at Duke University Medical Center Associate Director - Information Technology and Acting Program Leader - Cancer Control Program, Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center. Medical Director - Oncology Quality, Outcomes, and Patient-centered Care, Duke University Health System. Dr. Abernethy is also an Assistant Professor of Nursing at Duke University School of Nursing, and adjunct Associate Lecturer at Flinders University, South Australia.  An NIH-funded investigator, she co-directs both the Duke Quality Cancer Care Initiative and the Duke Integrative Oncology Program; she holds affiliations with the Duke Clinical Research Institute, Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center Cancer Control Program, and Duke Center for Clinical Health Policy Research.

Dr. Abernethy's Clinical Interests include melanoma, cancer pain management, symptom control, supportive oncology, general hematology/oncology, and palliative medicine.  Dr. Abernethy’s research program – the Duke Cancer Care Research Program (DCCRP) – handles all aspects of high-quality clinical trials that generate evidence-based solutions for common problems in supportive oncology.  DCCRP studies investigate novel agents and approaches to alleviate common cancer-related symptoms such as pain, dyspnea, mucositis, and insomnia, and new health service delivery models to optimize patients’ symptoms, experience of illness and care, and quality of life.  DCCRP trials incorporate and test new methods to increase the feasibility of clinical research in supportive oncology and palliative care.

 Dr. Abernethy has keen interest in evidence-based medicine and its application to oncology.  She was lead author of the report to CMS and AHRQ on the use of compendia to support funding of chemotherapeutics for off-label indications.  She is also lead author on several CMS/AHRQ reports on the efficacy and toxicity of oral cancer drugs and behavioral therapies for cancer-related pain; new projects studying targeted antibodies and small molecule therapies will be completed in 2008.  She is also the lead investigator on an AHRQ funded study evaluating the role of third party payment in clinical trials accrual.

Dr. Abernethy obtained her medical degree and post-graduate training in Internal Medicine, Hematology, and Medical Oncology at Duke University; she pursued concentrated training in Evidence-based Medicine, Palliative Medicine, and Cancer Pain Management at Flinders University in South Australia.

Here are the key symptoms you need to be aware of:
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Stumbles and falls
  • Skin changes
  • Persistent cough
  • Lumps
  • Fever and night sweats
  • Exhaustion
  • Excessive bleeding or bruising
  • Difficulty swallowing