Articles Posted in Cancer

colorscreen-300x168An important federal advisory group has joined with medical specialists in recommending a change in the age at which patients should start screening for colorectal cancer, to age 45 and not the current 50 years old.

Earlier detection of bowel issues could save lives, the U.S. Protective Services Task Force (USPSTF) has decided, with the influential medical group issuing a draft screening guidance and posting it online for public and expert comment.

Clinicians have reported for a while now that they are seeing more cases of colorectal cancers in younger patients, and their treatment might have better outcomes if it could be started earlier, too. As the New York Times reported:

medjournals-300x196They are a unique combination — august publications in science and medicine that  harken back for centuries yet now inform 21st century practitioners about the latest advances in their fields. And now these leading scientific journals say the present moment  forces them to abandon their prized political neutrality to oppose the science denialism of the incumbent leader of the free world.

This is an unprecedented and uncomfortable development for the New England Journal of Medicine, Nature, Scientific American, and Lancet Oncology (a journal for cancer specialists). They have never taken a political stand of this kind in their histories, dating to 1812 for NEJM, 1845 for Scientific American, and 1869 for Nature.

Their editors say they would much prefer to stay out of presidential endorsements  and to keep their focus on publishing important, rigorous research and peer-reviewed information about advancements in the fields of science and medicine.

abe-150x150Boseman-150x150The world has received painful reminders about the adage about decision making that also applies to digestive health: “Always listen to your gut.”

Movie fans are mourning the tragic and early death of the brilliant actor Chadwick Boseman. He was 43 and battled colon cancer with courage, including as he starred as the “trailblazing Marvel superhero ‘Black Panther,’ “as well as “real-life icons Jackie Robinson in ‘42,’ James Brown in ‘Get on Up’ and Thurgood Marshall in ‘Marshall,’” the Los Angeles Times reported.

The Japanese, in the meantime, dealt with sadness and uncertainty as Shinzo Abe, their nation’s longest serving prime minister, announced he would step down from office due to a relapse of ulcerative colitis, the bowel disease that led him to resign after just a year during his first stint in office, the New York Times reported.

handout-200x300It may be surprising that the questions went unasked before. The outcomes may be less than shocking. But patients, in a new and nationally representative survey, have told hospitals to bug off  with their relentless grubbing for donations from the people they care for.

Doctors and ethicists long have been wary of the huge energy that big hospitals and major academic medical centers sink in to soliciting donations and how institutions’ policies and practices for fundraising may sully public perceptions that medicine is about money and not science or compassionate care, the New York Times reported.

And while medical philanthropy has become an important and central concern of many hospitals and academic centers, driving big and booming “advancement” operations and wrapping doctors into dollar-raising moves, researchers had not delved until now into patients’ thinking.

cancerlungscreen-300x217Tens of millions of Americans who have not kicked the harmful smoking habit or who have only recently done so may want to keep a watch on the work of a blue-chip advisory group as its medical scientists consider how much lung-cancer screening best benefits tobacco users.

The panel is seeking expert comment on its proposal for a greater number of older smokers and recent quitters to undergo low-dose computed tomography. That is a diagnostic procedure that combines X-rays and computers to give doctors a better look at patients’ lungs with multiple views and cross-sectional images.

The U.S. Protective Screening Task Force — which advises the federal government on preventive care and issues recommendations that can affect patient costs and insurer coverage for procedures — says more patients should have tomography than the panel recommended in 2014 when it last considered evidence on it.

covidclosedstore-300x200Wall Street investors may be seeing their portfolios flush again. But the Covid-19 pandemic has left tens of millions of Americans jobless. And if the once-flourishing health care business has not snapped back into rosy condition as it so often has in difficult times, the battle of the last decade over health insurance will haunt patients and employers throughout the coronavirus infection.

The New York Times reported that record-setting, sudden unemployment has exposed the perils to workers of their reliance on health insurance they get via their jobs:

“While hospitals and doctors across the country say many patients are still shunning their services out of fear of contagion — especially with new [Covid-19] cases spiking — Americans who lost their jobs or have a significant drop in income during the pandemic are now citing costs as the overriding reason they do not seek the health care they need. ‘We are seeing the financial pressure hit,’ said Dr. Bijoy Telivala, a cancer specialist in Jacksonville, Fla. ‘This is a real worry,’ he added, explaining that people are weighing putting food on the table against their need for care. ‘You don’t want a 5-year-old going hungry.

blaze2vape-300x169Consumers have gotten stark reminders of the safety risks of two different kinds of products, one a household classic and the other a bootlegger’s nightmare. Caveat emptor about baby powder and street-purchased vaping devices.

As for Johnson and Johnson’s family familiar talc, the company may have timed well its decision to yank it from shelves in North America as the public focuses its attention on other and major health concerns, experts said. As Reuters reported:

“Christie Nordhielm, a professor of marketing at Georgetown, said it appears J&J made its decision to withdraw from the market while consumers were preoccupied with the pandemic. ‘It’s a nice time to quietly do it,’ she said, adding ‘it will minimize the reputational hit.’”

juul-300x197Here’s a glimmer of good health news: It seems that nations around the world may be avoiding what, just a blink ago, was one of the United States’ significant public health concerns — vaping and e-cigarettes.

Juul, the San Francisco-based company at the heart of this controversy, has seen doors shut in its face as it tries to expand its U.S.-curtailed business, the New York Times reported:

“The company has been met with ferocious anti-vaping sentiment and a barrage of newly enacted e-cigarette restrictions, or outright bans, in country after country. As a result, its ambitious overseas plans have collapsed. Juul was kicked off the market in China last fall after just four days. The company has had to abandon plans for India after the government there banned all electronic cigarettes. Thailand, Singapore, Cambodia and Laos have also closed the door to e-cigarettes. In the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the arrest of anyone caught vaping outside designated smoking areas. Juul has postponed its launch in the Netherlands and has pulled out of Israel. In South Korea, the number of Juul customers has plummeted after the government issued dire health warnings about e-cigarettes, and the company has scaled back its distribution there.”

mammographyus-300x240As Americans live longer, clinicians may need to reconsider whether they need to subject older patients to routine screenings that may trigger even more costly, invasive, painful, and unnecessary medical testing and procedures. For women 70 and older, for example, yet more new evidence raises doubts about mammograms designed to detect breast cancers.

As the New York Times reported, researchers in Boston examined 2000-2008 Medicare claims “to follow more than one million women, ages 70 to 84, who had undergone a mammogram.” Quoting Dr. Xabier Garcia-Albéniz, an oncologist and epidemiologist at RTI Health Solutions and lead author of a new observational study of their women subjects:

“They had never had breast cancer and had a ‘high probability,’ based on their medical histories, of living at least 10 more years. ‘That’s the population who will reap the benefit of screening,’ Dr. Garcia-Albéniz said, because it takes 10 years for mammography to show reduced mortality. The researchers divided the subjects into two groups: one that stopped screening, and another that continued having mammograms at least every 15 months. They found that mammograms provided a survival benefit, if a modest one, for women ages 70 to 74. In line with previous research, the study found that annually screening 1,000 women in that age group would result, after 10 years, in one less death from breast cancer. But among the women who were 75 to 84, annual mammograms did not reduce deaths, although they did, predictably, detect more cancer than in the group that discontinued screening. ‘You’re diagnosing more cancer, but that’s not translating to a mortality benefit,’ Dr. Garcia-Albéniz said.”

adamsmug-150x150Cigarette smokers got yet more chiding from public health officials about why and how they should quit an addictive and destructive habit. To do so isn’t easy, and a “shocking” number of doctors aren’t helping enough, the Surgeon General of the United States conceded. But there are big reasons to give up the nasty vice, especially before elective surgery, the World Health Organization warned.

The health experts found much to agree on when it comes to the carnage smoking causes. As the New York Times reported on the surgeon general’s work:

“More than 55 years after the first surgeon general’s report warned that smoking causes cancer, it remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the rate of smoking in the United States has declined to an all-time low of 14%. More than 3 of every 5 adult Americans who have smoked have quit, the report said. Still, 34 million Americans currently smoke, and an estimated 480,000 die from smoking-related illnesses each year, the agency said. About 16 million people in the United States now suffer from cancer, heart disease and smoking-related disorders, according to the CDC. The financial toll is enormous too, with annual health care spending attributed to smoking exceeding $170 billion, the agency said.”

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