November 6, 2013 at 6:34 am Comments (0)
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is urging people to get tested for colorectal cancer.
This month, the CDC released statistics about colorectal cancer and the lack of testing happening in the country:
- About 90% of people live 5 or more years when their colorectal cancer is found early through testing.
- About 1 in 3 adults (23 million) between 50 and 75 years old is not getting tested as recommended.
- 10% of adults who got tested for colorectal cancer used an effective at-home stool test.
- About 23 million adults have never been tested
- The people less likely to get tested are Hispanics, those aged 50-64, men, American Indian or Alaska natives, those who don’t live in a city, and people with lower education and income.
- People with lower education and income are less likely to get tested.
- About 2 of every 3 adults who have never been tested for colorectal cancer actually have a regular doctor and health insurance that could pay for the test. Providers and patients do not always know about or consider all of the available tests.
Colorectal cancer ranks second only to lung cancer as the second leading cancer killer of men and women in the US. The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends three colorectal cancer screening tests: colonoscopy, stool tests (guaiac fecal occult blood test-FOBT or fecal immunochemical test-FIT), and sigmoidoscopy.
The CDC states that people are more likely to get tested if they are able to choose the test they prefer and that, while doctors typically recommend a colonoscopy, many people would rather perform a test at home.
November 4, 2013 at 12:00 am Comments (0)
Two tests can help anyone avoid development of cervical cancer: a human papillomavirus (HPV) screening and a Pap test. Now, a recent study recommends one over the other.
Experts in the field of cervical cancer research led by Italian epidemiologist Dr. Guglielmo Ronco recommends the HPV-based screening for cervical cancer prevention, as opposed to cytology-based pap tests. A study conducted by Ronco and peers involved four random trials within Europe to compare the accuracy of the two tests in detecting cancer of the cervix, according to a news item. Over 175,000 females between the ages of 20 and 64 were included in the research, wherein the respondents were monitored from the day they were tested until an average of 6.5 years.
While both tests succeeded in cervical cancer detection for the first few years since the test administration, the proponents of the study discovered that after 2.5 years, HPV screening was up to 70 percent more accurate than pap tests.
Published in the online journal The Lancet, the research was presented to a panel of cervical cancer experts and medical professionals. According to the study authors, HPV screening should be conducted “from age 30 years and extension of screening intervals to at least 5 years.”
The two tests have different approaches to cervical cancer protection. Pap tests involve extraction of cells from the cervix and examining them through a microscope for potential abnormalities. Meanwhile, HPV screenings involve detection of the human papillomavirus in the extracted cervical cells.
October 29, 2013 at 5:54 am Comments (0)
Smartphones have replaced so many gadgets already, so why not optometrists’ instruments?
The Peek Vision app enables roving doctors to give patients a full eye exam using only their smartphones.
Developed at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine by members of the International Centre for Eye Health, the app uses smartphones’ cameras, flashlights and display to check how the eyes react to stimuli, while doctors can also track the progress of separate patients and also easily keep a record of their geolocation.
This allows doctors in rural or low-income areas to deliver eye care to citizens in a mobile and inexpensive way, checking patients’ abilities to see color, test for long and short-sightedness, and also detect the presence of cataracts and other eye conditions.
The team are currently carrying out research to ensure the app is accurate enough for medical purposes. A release date and price has yet to be announced.
October 22, 2013 at 5:59 am Comments (0)
The majority of people being screened for cancer are not being made aware of the potential for over-diagnosis and over-treatment due to their cancer screenings, a new study has found.
While cancer screenings can detect the disease at an earlier stage when it is more treatable and easier to combat, the screenings can also detect cancers that never progress and become dangerous. Detection of these slow-growing cancers can result in unnecessary surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, researchers in Germany warn.
In a study published in the Oct. 21 online edition of JAMA Internal Medicine, researches found that only 9.5 percent of the 317 U.S. men and women ranging in age from 50 to 69 years who participated in the study were told about the possibility of overdiagnosis and overtreatment by their doctor. The study consisted of an online survey to find out how many of the participants had been told by their doctor about the possibility of overdiagnosis and overtreatment. They were also questioned about how much overdiagnosis they would tolerate when deciding to undergo an initial or follow-up cancer screening.
Fifty-one percent said they were unprepared to start a screening that results in more than one overtreated person for every one life saved from cancer, study authors Odette Wegwarth and Gerd Gigerenzer, of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, noted in a journal news release.
The study also showed, however, that almost 59 percent of the participants said they would continue to undergo the routine cancer screening they already receive — even if they learned that the test results in 10 overtreated people for every one life saved from cancer.
“The results of the present study indicate that physicians’ counseling on screening does not meet patients’ standards,” the study authors concluded.
October 21, 2013 at 5:39 am Comments (0)
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has funded a study to research if a vitamin D supplement helps prevent or delay type 2 diabetes in adults who have prediabetes and who are at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes. The study is taking place at about 20 study sites across the United States.
The study, dubbed D2d, will run multiple years and include about 2,500 people. It aims to verify whether a daily dose of 4,000 International Units (IUs) of vitamin D can help prevent people who have prediabetes from developing into full-on cases of type 2 diabetes. The typical adult intake of vitamin D is 600-800 IUs per day, but 4,000 is deemed appropriate for clinical research by the Institute of Medicine. People with prediabetes have blood glucose levels that are higher than normal but not high enough to be called diabetes.
Vitamin D interests researchers so much because based on observations from earlier studies, they speculate that vitamin D could reduce the diabetes risk by 25 percent. The study will also examine if sex, age or race affect the potential of vitamin D to reduce diabetes risk.
“This study aims to definitively answer the question: Can vitamin D reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes?” said Dr. Myrlene Staten, the study’s project officer at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of NIH. “Vitamin D use has risen sharply in the U.S. in the last 15 years, since it has been suggested as a remedy for a variety of conditions, including prevention of type 2 diabetes. But we need rigorous testing to determine if vitamin D will help prevent diabetes. That’s what D2d will do.”
Half of the participants in the study will receive vitamin D while the other half will receive a placebo. Participants will have check-ups for the study twice a year, and will receive regular health care through their own health care providers.
The study will be double-blinded, so neither participants nor the study’s clinical staff will know who is receiving vitamin D and who is receiving placebo. The study will continue until enough people have developed type 2 diabetes to be able to make a scientifically valid comparison between diabetes development in the two groups. This will likely take about four years.
October 11, 2013 at 5:50 am Comments (0)
Medical research is being set back and could end up costing thousands of extra dollars thanks to the government shutdown.
The shutdown will likely mean that thousands of mice used in research on diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s and diabetes will die prematurely, wasting the research that was ongoing with them and costing thousands of dollars to replace once research can get back up and running again.
Federal research centers including the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will have to cull some of the mice to prevent overcrowding while other specifically genetically modified lines of mice will die on their own because they must be constantly monitored by scientists. Many NIH researchers have been banned from their own laboratories due to the shutdown and therefore cannot do the necessary monitoring, scientists from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore told National Public Radio (NPR). While the school is not affected by the government shutdown, NPR talked to scientists there who have experience with brief government shutdowns in the past. NIH research scientists are not doing media interviews.
The loss of transgenic mice (mice that have genes that cause them to develop versions of human diseases) is especially bad because one of these mice can cost thousands of dollars to replace and some simply cannot be replaced.
“I’m sure it’s chaos at the NIH for anyone doing mouse experiments,” says John Hopkins researcher Roger Reeves, who was affected by a government shutdown in the 1980s at a government run lab.
To maintain a colony of transgenic mice, every new pup must have its DNA tested by a highly trained researcher. Although laboratories may still have animal care staff who are still allowed into the labs, they would not be able to do the necessary testing on the mice, meaning NIH scientists probably had to choose which mice would be sacrificed during the shutdown.
If the shutdown goes on for too long, entire lines of mice will have to be eliminated and have the embryos frozen to be revived later. Reviving a line of mice like this can take months and cost thousands of dollars, Reeves says.
October 10, 2013 at 6:01 am Comments (0)
To mark World Sight Day today, Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis has launched a Facebook app that allows users to experience what it would be like to have a retinal disease and the vision loss that would accompany it.
The app has been launched as part of the Set Your Sights campaign to raise awareness of vision health.Users of the application will be presented with a fully tailored video experience, using their own photos and friends on Facebook, that shows a highly realistic view of what their life with retinal disease could be like.
The launch will be supported with social conversations on Facebook and Twitter, providing the retinal disease community with relevant information on life, their passions and the condition.
The Set Your Sights campaign was launched in response to the World Health Organization’s 2020 Vision Report, which asserts that nearly 80% of global blindness is preventable if managed correctly and encourages people to directly engage with vision-loss and experience what it means to live with a sight-diminishing condition.
“As the global leader in the field of retinal disease, Novartis is proud to support World Sight Day by creating further dialogue among people living with low vision conditions and the wider community, generating an environment of understanding and tolerance,” said David Epstein, Head of the Pharmaceuticals Division of Novartis Pharma AG. “This is an important initiative in the pharmaceutical environment, reflecting our focus to always put the patient first. Novartis is leading the industry, not only with our medicines, but by boldly experimenting with new technologies to re-define how the pharmaceutical industry engages people with their health.”
October 7, 2013 at 8:43 pm Comments (0)
Two medical expert organizations recently issued an updated recommendation for all patients diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer to undergo tests for detection of a particular cancer-progressing protein.
The College of American Pathologists (CAP) and the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) joined forces to emphasize the impact of the human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 or HER2 protein, and how its amplification in the body can lead to a heightened development of breast cancer. Dr. Antonio Wolff of Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center and co-chair of the joint panel pressed on this matter. “HER2 is among the first targets in breast cancer that helped define a very specific subtype of breast cancer that affects about 30,000 to 40,000 patients each year just in the U.S.,” said Wolff in a news item.
HER2 is a protein present in the human body in the form of the ERBB2 gene, which, when found in the body at high levels, could result in tumors that grow faster and are more invasive.
Dr. Elizabeth Hammond, who co-chairs the panel with Dr. Wolff and works as pathology professor at Salt Lake City’s University of Utah School of Medicine, shared the importance of updating the guidelines for breast cancer testing and treatment. “We want to make sure that a woman living in a rural area has the same opportunity for testing as a woman living near a major medical center,” Hammond said.
Under the new guidelines, recommendations include the following: HER2 testing for women with invasive and metastatic breast cancer, focused treatment on HER2-positive cases, and prohibition of HER2-negative patients from taking HER2-focused medication.
September 29, 2013 at 6:43 pm Comments (0)
As if getting diabetes isn’t bad enough, a new study reveals that the disease also increases the risk of carrying with it two types of cancer.
Researchers led by Kirstin De Bruijn, a surgery student from Rotterdam’s Erasmus University Medical Center, discovered a link between Type 2 diabetes and higher risk of developing colon and breast cancer. Presented during the European Cancer Congress in Amsterdam today, the study showed that people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes have a 23 percent greater risk of developing breast cancer and 26 percent higher chances of having colon cancer. The study’s scope included close to 2 million patients amassed from 20 past studies.
In addition to this, diabetics have a higher probability of dying from the two diseases. The research results revealed that there is a 30 percent likelihood of dying from colon cancer, and a surprising 38 percent risk of death by breast cancer. “The evidence is getting quite strong that there is an association between diabetes and cancer,” said De Bruijn in a news report. However, she clarified that the results do not show a cause-and-effect relationship. “It’s not a direct link; it has to be sorted out further,” she added.
While the revelations of the study could impact the medical viewpoint on diabetes, some experts believe that more studies need to be done in order to confirm the results. After all, there are many other factors that could have increased the risk of cancer in diabetics, according to Dr. Joel Zonszein of New York’s Montefiore Medical Center diabetes center. He cited obesity as one of the factors that could mess up the results. “Certainly, patients with obesity and diabetes have an increased risk of these types of cancers,” Dr. Zonszein said. Also, insulin shots are known to heighten cancer risk, while diabetes drugs such as metformin can inhibit cancer cells.
Despite the doubts, De Bruijn wants society to focus more on the significance of prevention to combat diabetes, obesity and cancer. “We think concern is warranted,” De Bruijn further noted.
September 27, 2013 at 12:00 am Comments (0)
A panel of experts appointed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommended against the use of risk-reducing drugs by patients diagnosed with average breast cancer risks.
The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), an arm of the health department’s Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, says the use of tamoxifen or raloxifene by average risk females could result in serious side effects that may endanger their health instead of improving it.
The risk-reducing medications are typically prescribed to people with an elevated risk of developing breast cancer, especially those with family history. However, some physicians erroneously give prescriptions to women with low cancer risks, according to a news release.
Earlier studies on these drugs have shown several adverse side effects, most notably venous thromboembolism (VTE) that causes blood clots in veins of the lower body and consequently stroke. Recorded cases of VTE approached seven in every 1,000 females within a five-year span. In addition, tamoxifen was found to increase the likelihood of cataracts and endometrial cancer.
As an update to its 2002 release, the USPSTF now recommends the drugs only to women diagnosed with at least a 3 percent breast cancer risk within five years. The task force also approves of the medication’s use for patients with a high tolerance for the drug’s side effects.
Famous brands for tamoxifen include Soltamox, Tamoxen and Nolvadex. Meanwhile, Evista is one of the well-known brands for raloxifene.