Have you ever wondered why doctors have to perform a digital rectal exam?

Well, look no further, as primary care doctor Rob Lamberts gives us the answers discerning readers demand.

Simply by looking at the rectum, which by the way, indeed "takes some getting used to," can lead to significant diagnostic findings. Furthermore, does tight sphincter tone matter? And should you be worried about the large hands ...

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A recent, albeit retrospective, study suggests a correlation.

MedPage Today reports on a recent JAMA study that looked at patients who had an acute coronary syndrome. It found that those who took both a proton pump inhibitor (PPI), like omeprazole, Nexium or Protonix, with Plavix had a 25 percent increased risk of death or rehospitalization.

If true, that's a pretty significant finding, especially since PPIs are ...

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How bad did this doctor want to avoid the emergency room?

Freakonomics' blogger Steven Levitt recounts a story told by his physician-grandfather.

The 80-something year old started having symptoms consistent with a stroke. Instead of calling 911, or finding a way to an emergency room, he "called in a prescription to the drugstore around the corner for some clot-busting drugs and sent my grandmother to the ...

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According to a recent study looking at the Medicare population, the answer appears to be yes.

MedPage Today
reports a study showing that elderly white patients had colon cancer screening rates ranging from 39 to 47 percent, compared to 29 to 38 percent in blacks and 23 to 33 percent in Hispanics.

First off, all those rates are dismally low. There should be no reason that ...

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CT, or "virtual", colonoscopy is an emerging imaging test designed to screen for colon cancer.

However, the data supporting its efficacy is not conclusive, and despite several studies performed by radiologists, its accuracy does not yet match that of a traditional, endoscopic colonoscopy.

Recently, the USPSTF reviewed the evidence, and could not recommend virtual colonoscopy as an acceptable method to screen for colon cancer.

Justifiably, MedPage ...

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The answer is cost.

Because the costly treatment isn't often covered by insurance, doctors are sometimes pressured by patients to implant more than one embryo per cycle.

Since a single cycle can cost as much as $12,000, and those who aren't successful often keep on trying, the cost of having a baby can reach into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

As this reproductive endocrinologist recounts, ...

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Most dentists do a thorough visual mouth evaluation to screen for oral cancer.

Whether there is data to support this practice is in question, with few studies suggesting a mortality benefit. The recommendations themselves are extrapolated from studies looking at other cancers.

Like other diseases where there is a gray area surrounding the efficacy of screening, like ovarian, lung, or pancreatic cancer, companies are rushing in ...

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A small study garnered significant media attention last week, with headlines blaring an association between masturbation and prostate cancer.

Before anyone gets really worried, obstetrician-gynecologist Amy Tuteur takes a closer look at the data, and is not impressed.

The retrospective, case-control study actually didn't reveal any significant initial findings, so the authors kept manipulating the variables until they saw a possible association.

Dr. Tuteur believes that ...

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Of those diagnosed with early stage lung cancer, 69 percent of black patients opted for surgery, compared to 83 percent of white patients.

MedPage Today reports the findings from a cohort study in the Archives of Surgery. All the patients had Medicare, making insurance a non-factor.

Possible reasons include different racial-based beliefs, including that blacks "were more likely to believe that surgery accelerated tumor ...

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A rare occurrence where a routine ear piercing goes horribly wrong. Keloids are fibrous growths that uncommonly occur in cases of wound healing. They present predominantly in blacks, and any type of skin piercing can affect those predisposed to the disease. The lesions can be severely disfiguring and painful, and often recur after treatment. The first-line therapy is injection of steroids into the keloid, with a ...

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