A recent study has concluded that women with breast cancer who failed to get annual mammograms are more likely to die from their disease than those who had annual mammograms, and argues that more frequent mammograms are warranted in women under age 40. Unfortunately, despite all the media attention this study is getting, I don’t think the researcher’s conclusions are supported by the study results. The researchers did a retrospective ...

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From MedPage Today:

  1. FDA Panel Backs CT Colonography. An FDA advisory panel generally backed greater use of CT colonography in screening asymptomatic patients for colon cancer but did question certain aspects of the test.
  2. CDC Claims a Win for Anti-Smoking Ads. A 3-month advertising blitz sponsored by the CDC featuring "true stories told by former smokers" led some 220,000 current smokers to quit and ...

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Now that I am a "civilian," I get to experience the health care system like most of you. I marvel at the degree to which customer service mechanisms used by service providers in other sectors do not exist in health care. Please understand that I am not talking about the quality of care, or empathy, or attentiveness offered by doctors, nurses, radiology techs, lab techs and the like. On that ...

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I’ve been writing a lot about CT scans lately. Why are so many being done, and which children with head trauma really need one? CTs are really kind of neat—it’s amazing that we can peer into your body to see what’s going on in there. But like every other medical intervention and treatment, there are positives and negatives, pros and cons, a ying and a yang. I’ve mentioned some downsides ...

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Lung cancer screening CT took its most important step toward widespread implementation last week, when the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) released a draft of its forthcoming recommendation that the 9 million U.S. people meeting entry criteria for the National Lung Screening Trial (age 55-79, with 30+ pack-years smoking history and quit < 15 years) should undergo yearly low-dose lung cancer screening CT. The recommendation earned a Grade B in the USPSTF’s ...

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Many, myself included, have written about the overuse of head computed tomography (CT) scanning in children. This concern has become more focused now that we have some data on the radiation risk of those scans. The bottom line is not that we should stop doing head CTs in children, but that we should always balance the risk against the benefit, just as we should do with all medical testing. In ...

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From MedPage Today:

  1. System-Wide Program Helps Control BP. A multipronged hypertension program implemented within an integrated healthcare system was associated with substantial improvements in blood pressure control.
  2. MRIs May Have Fueled Increase in Mastectomy. Older breast cancer patients had significantly higher odds of undergoing mastectomy if their evaluation included MRI, use of which increased exponentially during the study period.
  3. Shoe Inserts No ...

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From MedPage Today:

  1. Data Promising for Next-Gen Inhaled Insulin. Two late-stage trials in patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes have shown benefits for the latest incarnation of rapid-acting inhaled insulin (Afrezza) over insulin and oral diabetes drugs.
  2. Byetta May Help in Type 1 Diabetes, Too. The GLP-1 agonist exenatide (Byetta), used in type 2 diabetes, may have metabolic effects on patients with ...

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Hospital transport arrives to take my daughter just after 9am. We’d been told her ultrasound and x-ray were scheduled for 10am, an hour away. Jess and I exchange a look. She’s just about to take another swig of the laxative drink she’s been drinking since 8:30. “I’ll go with you,” I say. “We’ll make sure there’s a bathroom nearby.” Strike one for the Golden Cocoon. We get to the ultrasound department, and are left ...

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A study published in the British Medical Journal highlights the importance of carefully choosing which children should receive diagnostic CT scans.  As a diagnostic test, CT scans utilize ionizing radiation that can cause cellular DNA damage, increasing the risk of cancer.  Children who received a CT scan were 25% more likely to develop a cancer in 10 years after radiation exposure, according to a study of 11 million ...

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