Category Archives: Cancer
Study: Pertussis Booster Only ‘Moderately’ Effective
The “booster” vaccine for pertussis—or whooping cough—is only “moderately” effective in preventing the disease in adolescents and adults, according to a new study in the journal BMJ. The Kaiser Permanente-backed study, which is the first to look at the effectiveness of the Tdap booster shot in the new generation that has only received acellular vaccines, found the effectiveness to be between 53 and 64 percent. This indicates that additional vaccinations may be required to adequately prevent outbreaks according to lead author Roger Baxter, MD, co-director of the Kaiser Permanente Vaccine Study Center. The state of California saw its highest number of cases of pertussis in more than 60 years in 2010, when it had more than 9,000 cases that led to 809 hospitalizations and 10 deaths, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. Read more on vaccines.
NYC Hospitals Prescribing Fruits, Vegetables to At-risk Youth
An apple a day to keep the doctor away? At two New York City hospitals, you can get a prescription for just that. Under a four-month pilot program, doctors at Lincoln Medical Center in the Bronx and Harlem Hospital are giving prescriptions for fruits and vegetables to at-risk youths. The kids and their families receive coupons which can be redeemed for product at local farmers markets and city green carts. “This is probably going to prevent an awful lot more disease over the long-term than a lot of the medicines we tend to write for,” said New York City Health Commissioner Thomas Farley, MD, said Tuesday in the green market outside Lincoln Medical Center. Read more on nutrition.
Breast Cancer Survival Times Shorter for Black Women
The fact that black women receive less health care overall than their white counterparts, combined with the lack of early screening and detection programs in many black communities, means they live an average of three fewer years with a breast cancer diagnosis, according to a new study in The Journal of the American Medical Association. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found that black women were less likely to receive an early diagnosis when the cancer was more treatable; they also found that quality of care was in general lower, though not enough to explain the survival gap. Data showed that 70 percent of white women lived at least five years after a breast cancer diagnosis, compared to 56 percent of black women. “Something is going wrong,” said Jeffrey H. Silber, MD, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania and the director of the Center for Outcomes Research at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, which studies disparities in health care. “These are huge differences. We are getting there too late. That’s why we are seeing these differences in survival.” Read more on cancer.
>>NewPublicHealth is kicking off a new series to highlight some of the best public health education and outreach campaigns every month. Submit your ideas for Public Health Campaign of the Month to info@newPublichealth.org.
Why limit your good ideas for improving population health to just one country when all the world can be your stage—to share and learn?
That’s the thinking behind Creative for Good, a new website developed by the Ad Council, a non-profit developer of public service advertisements (PSA) in the United States, Ketchum Public Relations and the World Economic Forum. The new site offers more than 60 U.S. and international case studies and well as a primer to help organizations plan and execute their own PSAs.
Creative for Good grew out of the World Economic Forum Summit in Dubai two years ago, with the goal of helping countries around the world increase the quantity and effectiveness of social cause marketing.
PSA examples on the site include:
NCI Releases Massive Data Set to Help Cancer Researchers
The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has released a massive data set of cancer-specific genetic variations to help the cancer research community gain a better understanding or both drug response and drug resistance to cancer treatments. The data set was published in Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research. The database—the largest worldwide—includes 6 billion data points connecting “drugs with genomic variants for the whole human genome across cell lines from nine tissues of origin, including breast, ovary, prostate, colon, lung, kidney, brain, blood, and skin,” said Yves Pommier, MD, PhD, NCI’s chief of the Laboratory of Molecular Pharmacology. “Opening this extensive data set to researchers will expand our knowledge and understanding of tumorigenesis [the process by which normal cells are transformed into cancer], as more and more cancer-related gene aberrations are discovered,” he said. “This comes at a great time, because genomic medicine is becoming a reality, and I am very hopeful this valuable information will change the way we use drugs for precision medicine.” Read more on cancer.
FDA Approves Device that Uses the Brain’s Electrical Impulses to Diagnose ADHD
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the marketing of the first medical device that will look at a brain’s electrical impulses to help determine whether children and adolescents have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The 15-20 minute test for people ages 6 to 17, which utilizes electroencephalogram technology, can be used to confirm an ADHD diagnosis or help health professionals decide whether further testing should focus on ADHD. “Diagnosing ADHD is a multistep process based on a complete medical and psychiatric exam,” said Christy Foreman, director of the Office of Device Evaluation at the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. “The NEBA System along with other clinical information may help health care providers more accurately determine if ADHD is the cause of a behavioral problem.” Read more on technology.
Study: Divorce When a Child is Young Negatively Impacts Later Parental Relationship Security
Young children whose parents divorce may have more difficult and less secure relationships with their parents later in life, according to a new study in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. Researchers looked at date from 7,335 men and women with the average age of 24, finding those whose parents divorced when they were age 5 or younger had less secure parental relationships as adults. A secure relationship means that the child feels “they can trust them and depend on them and that the parent will be available psychologically,” according to HealthDay. The negative effect was especially true for relationships with the father. The study found that participants were more likely to have a “strained” relationship with the parent they did not live with after the divorce; about 74 percent of the participants lived with their mothers and only 11 percent lived with their fathers. Omri Gillath, an associate professor of social psychology at the University of Kansas, said the results demonstrate the need for divorcing parents to be as civilized as possible. Read more on pediatrics.
CDC Foundation Releases Website, App to Help Prevent Concussions in Kids
The CDC Foundation and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have released a “Heads Up to Parents” website and mobile app that provide resources for parents and coaches to protect kids against brain injuries, such as concussions. The website includes customizable fact sheets, videos, tools, tips and online training courses, while the app includes basics on brain injuries, safety tips and a helmet selector. Emergency rooms treat about 170,000 young athletes for suspected traumatic brain injuries each year. Read more on safety.
Soy Does Not Reduce Recurrence of Prostate Cancer
Soy supplements do not reduce the risk of recurrence of prostate cancer, according to a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Prostate cancer is the second most common type of cancer for men. While some doctors have believed that the isoflavones found in soy could help prevent prostate cancer, the study involving men who’d had their prostates surgically removed was stopped early because no benefit was seen. "When we did the analysis and there was an absolute absence of the effect, I was a little surprised. But in a way, it was good because the outcome was clear," said Maarten Bosland, the lead author from the University of Illinois at Chicago, to Reuters. Read more on cancer.
Five Things for Kids to Tell their Asthma Doctor
The key to making sure a child’s asthma is being treated properly is to make sure the child is fully involved when meeting with an allergist, according to a study in the journal Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. "Our research shows that physicians should ask parents and children about the effects asthma is having on the child's daily life," said lead author Margaret Burks, of the pediatrics department of the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, in a release. "Parents can often think symptoms are better or worse than what the child is really experiencing, especially if they are not with their children all day.” With that in mind, the study identified five things kids should make sure to tell their asthma doctor:
- If they can't play sports or participate in gym class and recess activities
- When symptoms get worse outside or at home
- If they often feel sad or different from other kids because of asthma
- If they miss school because of asthma
- When the asthma appears to have gone away
Read more on pediatrics.
Percentage of Single-father Households Up Dramatically
In 1960 only about 1 percent of households with children under the age of 18 were headed by single fathers. Today that number is a record 8 percent, or about 2.6 million in 2011. About one quarter of all single-parent households are headed by fathers. The climb in single fathers is due to largely the same reason as the climb in single mothers, according to data from Pew Research Trends. These include a dramatic increase in non-marital births and high divorce rates. However, there are notable differences between households headed by a single father or a single mother, with perhaps the greatest being that single fathers are generally better off financially. Read more on housing.
One in Seven Skin Cancer Patients Returns to Tanning Booth
Even after being diagnosed with skin cancer, one in seven people who use indoor tanning will return to a tanning booth within the next year, according to a new study in JAMA Dermatology. Research consistently shows that indoor tanning, which can emit up to 15 times the ultraviolet A radiation of the sun, dramatically increases the risk of cancer. "The situation may be analogous to that of lung cancer patients who continue to smoke after diagnosis," said study author Brenda Cartmel, a cancer prevention researcher at the Yale School of Public Health in New Haven, Conn., to Reuters. "Just as tobacco is known to be addictive, our research suggests that some patients may become dependent on tanning, with new intervention approaches needed to change these behaviors." About 20 million American visit tanning beds each year; the majority of them are young white women. Read more on cancer.
Majority of OB/GYNs Do Not Follow Guidelines on Cervical Cancer Prevention
Fewer than one-third of U.S. obstetricians-gynecologists vaccinate eligible patients against HPV and only about half follow the guidelines for cervical cancer prevention, according to a new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend Pap tests beginning at the age of 21 and then gradually decreasing the rate of testing, depending on patient age and history. "In the current survey and others, providers stated that the largest barrier to HPV vaccination was patients and parents declining to receive the vaccine," said lead investigator Rebecca Perkins, MD, of the Boston University School of Medicine, in a release. "However, studies indicate that most patients support HPV vaccination, and that a strong physician recommendation is the most important determinant of vaccine uptake in young women." Read more on vaccines.
CPR Quality Varies Among EMS Personnel
The quality of CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) given to victims may vary depending on the EMS department or hospital administering it, according to the American Heart Association. “There have been huge advances in CPR and there’s no question that high-quality CPR saves lives,” said Peter Meaney, MD, MPH, an assistant professor of anesthesia and critical care at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and author of a new statement on quality CPR for the AHA. “Right now,” said Meaney, “there is wide variability in the quality of CPR—and we can do better.” Each year in the United States, more than a half-million children and adults suffer cardiac arrest, but survival rates vary significantly: 3 percent to 16 percent for arrests outside of hospitals and 12 percent to 22 percent in hospitals, according to the study authors.
In its statement the AHA offered some recommendations to improve CPR quality:
- Minimize interruptions to chest compressions.
- Provide the right rate of compressions—100 to 120 per minute are optimal for survival.
- Give deep enough compressions—at least 2 inches for adults and at least 1/3 the depth of the chest in infants and children.
- Give no more than 12 rescue breaths a minute, with the chest just visibly rising, so pressure from the breath doesn’t slow blood flow.
The AHA recommends that to ensure quality improvement, providers, managers, institutions and systems of care should do debriefings, follow CPR delivery checklists, measure patient response measurements, provide frequent refresher courses and participate in CPR data registries. Read more on heart health.
Minority Children Less Likely to Receive ADHD Diagnosis
Minority children are less likely than their white counterparts to be diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to a new study in the journal Pediatrics. Compared to white children, Hispanic children were 50 percent less likely, black children were 69 percent less likely and minority children overall were 46 less likely. The health care disparities start as early as kindergarten and last at least through the eighth grade, and the lack of access to medications and specialized learning programs puts them at a disadvantage in terms of learning and behavior. Researchers say the findings demonstrate the need for improved ADHD awareness and questioning by health care providers, school psychologists and teachers. Read more on health disparities.
NCI Issues Guidelines to Speed Up Clinical Trials
Opening a clinical trial can sometimes take years, which can slow down introduction of new or improved therapies. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has issued new recommendations to help get trials underway. Under the new guidelines, the target time to open a trial should be should be 210 days from the start date for the first two phases of clinical trials which assess safety and effectiveness in a small number of patients, and 300 days for phase III trials which include a much larger number of participants. According to NCI incorporating the new guidelines in some recent trials has sped up the start date for those trials. Read more on cancer.
Regulations to Limit Youth Smoking also Lower Adult Rates
Regulation to limit youth smoking may also decrease the rate of adult smoking, according to a new study in the American Journal of Health. The study found that states with stricter regulations targeted youth tobacco use also saw lower incidence of adult use, especially among women. "In most states for many years, it has been illegal to sell cigarettes to people under 18, but few provisions are in place to prevent those sales," said study author Richard Grucza, an associate professor of psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. "This study shows that more restrictive policies can prevent teen smoking and be beneficial down the road." The most effective policies included eliminating cigarette vending machines, ID requirements to purchase cigarettes and restrictions preventing smaller packages of cigarettes. Gurzca estimated that if all states had such effective policies then smoking would be cut about 14 percent and heavy smoking would drop 29 percent. Read more on tobacco.
‘Watchful Waiting’ Approach to Prostate Cancer Can Reduce Unneeded Treatment
A “wait and see” approach to slow-growing prostate cancer—also known as “watchful waiting”—could reduce the number of unnecessary treatments, according to a new study in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The study took into account costs, side effects, quality of life and the chance of dying. "Most of the men who are diagnosed in this country these days have low-risk prostate cancer," said Julia Hayes, MD, who led the new study at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute Boston. "There's a huge group of men out there who are probably treated unnecessarily." The slow-growing cancer “may never grow large or fast enough to threaten a man's life,” according to Reuters. Researchers estimate that men under the “watchful waiting” approach would ultimately undergo treatment in 34 percent of cases; active surveillance would lead to 78 percent. Read more on cancer.
Younger Americans Less Likely to Be Aware of their HIV, Undergo Treatment
People under age 45 who are infected with HIV are far less likely that their older counterparts to know about the infection and to be receiving treatment, according to a new study in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine. About 40 percent of people between ages 13-24 had been diagnosed and only 30 were referred for care. Those ages 25-44 also saw lower rates than people 45 and older. A total of more than 850,000 Americans with HIV have not achieved suppression. The researchers, led by H. Irene Hall of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, concluded that "Individuals, health care providers, health departments and government agencies must all work together to increase the numbers of people living with HIV who are aware of their status, linked to and retained in care, receiving treatment and adherent to treatment." Read more on HIV.
Emergency Contraception Age Restrictions to be Dropped
The White House administration announced Monday that it will comply with a U.S. District Court ruling to remove the age restrictions on the emergency contraception pill Plan B One-Step, making it available to all women and girls without a prescription. The pill is most effective when taken within 72 hours after unprotected intercourse. The court ruling came in April, with a judge referring to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s decision to reject a citizen petition related to the restrictions as "arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable." According to Reuters, Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards said the decision "will make emergency contraception available on store shelves, just like condoms, and women of all ages will be able to get it quickly in order to prevent unintended pregnancy." Read more on sexual health.
CDC Toolkit to Help Health Care Departments, Facilities Make Patient Notifications on Potential Exposures
More than 150,000 patients may have been exposed to hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV since 2001 because of unsafe health care practices, and last year almost 14,000 people were notified in relation to a national fungal meningitis outbreak and other infections. In order to help health departments and facilities going forward, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has created a new online toolkit to facilitate the notification of patients in the event of potential infections or disease transmissions during medical care. The kit includes key steps on notifying patients, resources to help create notification documents, and media communications strategies. The kit was presented at the APIC Annual Conference in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., on June 9. Read more on infectious diseases.
Reducing CT Scans for Kids Could Cut Later Rates of Cancer
Cutting back on the number of unneeded, high-dose computed tomography (CT) scans on children could reduce their lifetime risk of certain cancers by more than 60 percent, according to a new study in the journal JAMA Pediatrics. CT scans utilize x-rays; the approximately 4 million annual CT scans of kids’ most commonly imaged organs may lead to as many as 4,900 cancers, according to the researchers. "There are potential harms from CT, meaning that there is a cancer risk—albeit very small in individual children—so it's important to reduce this risk in two ways," said lead author Diana Miglioretti, a professor of biostatistics in the department of public health sciences at the UC Davis Health System. "The first is to only do a CT when it's medically necessary, and use alternative imaging when possible. The second is to dose CT appropriately for children." Read more on cancer.
Regular Aerobic Exercise Best for Treating Depression
Researchers have pinpointed which types of exercise are best for combating major depressive disorders, according to a new study in the Journal of Psychiatric Practice. By reviewing and analyzing data from nine trials, they discerned that aerobic exercise is best, three to five sessions a week are necessary, each session should last 45 minutes to one hour, at least 10 weeks of training are needed, and other details. Karen Cassiday, PhD, board member and secretary of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, said physicians should help patients identify barriers to proper exercise. “Discuss with them how you can pair exercise with something fun—audio books, podcasts, music,” she said. “Suggest that they exercise with other people. If you are meeting someone, you are more likely to do it.” Read more on mental health.
Survey: Doctors Seeing Shortage of Critical Cancer Drugs
Shortages of cancer-fighting drugs are affecting patient care and increasing treatment costs across the country, according to new findings to be presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago. "These drug shortages are persistent and pervasive," said Keerthi Gogineni, MD, an oncologist in the Abramson Cancer Center and the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. "They are affecting the treatment of curable cancers, forcing physicians to improvise." About 94 percent of physicians say their treatments were impacted, 83 percent said they couldn’t even offer standard chemotherapy and 13 percent said the shortage caused trouble with clinical trials. Leucovorin, liposomal doxorubicin, 5-fluorouracil, bleomycin and cytarabine are the most common drugs to see shortages. "Clearly, it impacts the treatments patients receive," said Len Lichtenfeld, MD, deputy chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society, in reference to cytarabine, which is used to treat leukemia. "It takes a long time to develop an understanding of effective drug regimens. When you can't use a proven effective drug and you have to go to an alternative plan, you certainly become concerned about the effect of that switch on the health of your patient." Read more on cancer.
CMS: Estimates for Average Charges of 30 Hospital Procedures
Building on the release last month of the average charges for the 100 most common inpatient procedures, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) today released selected hospital outpatient data that includes estimates for average charges for 30 types of hospital outpatient procedures from hospitals across the country, such as clinic visits, echocardiograms and endoscopies. Read more on access to health care.
The ‘Nocebo Effect’: Media Reports Can Trigger False Symptoms
News media stories about various disease and syndromes—even those that aren’t real—can lead people to report symptoms, according to a new study in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research. Researchers call it the “nocebo effect” and say it clearly shows the importance of news organizations making sure their stories are based on scientific evidence and presented in a balanced, cautious way. The study uses the idea of a Wi-Fi signal that could cause health problems, finding that 54 percent of participants reported symptoms of the made-up syndrome. "It appears essential to stay critical about any kind of scientific, or pseudo-scientific, information in the media," said researcher Michael Witthoft, with the psychology department at Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz, in Germany. "I would advise consumers not to jump to simple conclusions prematurely, but to critically review several sources of evidence." (See the accompanying cartoon by Politico's Matt Wuerker for a humorous take on the issue.) Read more on environment.
Cedars-Sinai Aims to Involve More Women in Clinical Research
A new initiative from Cedars-Sinai hopes to improve the representation of women in medical research by registering at least 2,000 women with or without a history of breast and gynecologic cancers. Compared to men, relatively few women participate in clinical studies, meaning not nearly enough is known about how the biological differences might factor into disease diagnosis and treatment. This research for her initiative will work to “close this gap.” “What we try to tell women, especially women who do not have cancer or a family history of it, is that they can help make a difference in the fight against women’s cancers in a noninvasive, very simple way,” said BJ Rimel, MD, co-principal investigator of the research for her registry and gynecologic oncologist in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Cedars-Sinai. “We try to tell them how much of a benefit they are to others. That's our strongest weapon in this fight.” Read more on cancer.
Study: Smoking Down, Drinking Up in Popular Movies
While incidents of smoking are down on the big screen since 1998, the number of alcohol brand appearances is up in the top movies rated PG-13 and below and the overall screen time spent drinking is level, according to a new study in JAMA Pediatrics. A 1998 law forbade tobacco companies from paying for ad placements; there is not such law for alcohol products. Researchers looked at the movies with the top 100 box offices each year from 1996 to 2009, finding a drop in the appearances of tobacco. However, they also saw alcohol brand appearances in youth-rated movies rise from 80 to 145 per year. "Children who see smoking in the movies are more likely to initiate smoking," said Elaina Bergamini from the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire, to Reuters. "I think there is some concern that that may hold true for alcohol as well. The notorious thing you find in movies and in TV is heavy drinking without consequences. It leaves it up to parents to tell the consequences story." Read more on alcohol.