Thursday, June 20, 2019

YOUR TEENAGE CHILDREN NEED CLOSE ATTENTION

Suicide rates increasing among U.S. teens, study indicates

Reuters (6/18, Carroll) reports that since 2007, “suicide rates have been climbing among U.S. teens, with an especially pronounced increase in boys recently,” researchers concluded after examining data from “the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Underlying Cause of Death database.” The study’s lead author “hopes the study will alert parents and other relatives to the increasing suicide rates so they will notice changes in teens and young adults that might suggest a risk for suicide.” The findings were published June 18 in a research letter in JAMA.
According to CNN (6/18, Howard), “overall in 2017, there were 6,241 suicides among young people aged 15 to 24, of whom 5,016 were young men and 1,225 were young women, the researchers found.” The study, however, “had some limitations, including that the causes of death in the data were based on death certificates, which can be subject to error, or it could suggest that the observed increase in suicide deaths may reflect more accurate reporting in certificates.” In addition, investigators “did not examine factors behind the increase in suicide rates.”

Monday, June 17, 2019

CIRCULATING TUMOR CELLS (CTC)

Scientists have created a laser-based platform that can quickly and noninvasively screen large quantities of blood in patients with melanoma to detect circulating tumor cells (CTCs) – a precursor to deadly metastases.
The new system accurately sniffed out hard-to-detect CTCs in 27 of 28 patients with the cancer in as little as 10 seconds and was 1,000 times more sensitive than existing assays (detecting one CTC per liter of blood). Although more work is needed, the test could help identify patients at risk of metastasis and guide the use of laser therapies to kill melanoma cells.
Researchers have attempted to assess CTCs to determine the risk of metastasis in patients, but existing assays can only examine small amounts of blood, which sometimes do not capture any CTCs. Seeking a solution, Ekaterina Galanzha and colleagues created a system called the Cytophone that uses laser pulses and focused ultrasound to noninvasively peer under the skin of patients with melanoma, revealing pigmented CTCs that pass through veins in the arm, a media release from American Association for the Advancement of Science explains.
The study was published recently in Science Translational Medicine.
Galanzha et al applied their technology to 28 light-skinned patients with melanoma and 19 healthy volunteers and found that it identified CTCs in 27 (96%) of the patients between 10 seconds and 60 minutes without generating false positives in the controls.
Importantly, the system’s laser could destroy the detected CTCs, resulting in a large drop in CTC numbers. It also uncovered circulating blood clots – the second leading cause of death in cancer patients.
The Cytophone was able to account for other variables such as patient skin pigmentation and movement, but future studies should investigate and expand on the range of skin tones for which the technology could be used, the release continues.
[Source(s): American Association for the Advancement of Science, EurekAlert]
 

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

STIMULATING THE IMMUNE SYSTEM TO TREAT CANCER


Pembrolizumab approved for first-line treatment of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma

Reuters (6/11, Babu) reports that “Merck & Co Inc said on Tuesday its blockbuster cancer drug Keytruda [pembrolizumab] won approval from the” FDA “to treat a type of head and neck cancer.” The medication “was approved for use as a monotherapy, as well as in combination with a common chemotherapy regimen, to treat previously untreated patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma, Merck said.”

 

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

BE CAREFUL

WHO: Over one million people acquire STIs daily

Reuters (6/6, Kelland) reports the World Health Organization released data on Thursday indicating “more than a million people every day worldwide catch a sexually transmitted infection (STI), with rates of chlamydia, gonorrhoea, trichomoniasis and syphilis the most worrying.” The WHO “report, based on 2016 global data which are the latest available, showed that among men and women aged between 15 and 49 there were 127 million new cases of chlamydia in 2016, 87 million of gonorrhoea, 6.3 million of syphilis and 156 million of trichomoniasis.”

CELLULITE

Cellulite is simply subcutaneous fat enmeshed in connective tissue, and women are more prone to the harmless condition as they age and estrogen levels decline. A review of 67 studies found no effective long-term treatment, although weight loss can improve the appearance of cellulite.  Acoustic wave therapy and treatments such as laser therapy that sever connective tissue bands have been shown to yield only short-term improvements.

MONITOR FOR MELANOMA IN ALL AREAS OF THE BODY

Spending time in the sun without protection increases the risk of melanoma, but the potentially deadly skin cancer can occur even on sites with minimal sun exposure, doctors warn.
Melanoma accounts for only about 1% of skin cancers but causes the majority of skin cancer deaths.
Writing in the medical journal CMAJ, two dermatology experts highlight important things to know about the most dangerous form of skin cancer.
“Melanomas can occur anywhere on the body, not only in areas that get a lot of sun,” Dr. Kucy Pon told Reuters Health by email. She said the most common site in men is the back, while for women it is the leg.
More than 90% of melanomas with the most common genetic characteristics are caused by too much ultraviolet radiation, either from the sun or from sun lamps like the kind used at tanning salons, Pon and co-author Robert Micieli say.
But for some melanomas on peripheral body parts like palms and soles, and on mucosal surfaces, sun exposure is not the primary cause, the authors note. In these cases, the cancer’s development may more closely match the chain of events that lead to non-skin-cancers.
Pon said the incidence of melanoma has been rising over the last 30 years, with an estimated 192,300 new cases expected in the U.S. in 2019.
The disease can affect anyone, regardless of skin color, Pon said.
Along with sun exposure, risk factors include advancing age, moles, many atypical looking moles and a family history of melanoma.
“The first sign of a melanoma is an unusual looking mole or freckle, said Pon, a dermatologist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center in Toronto.
But she and Micieli warn that in one of every 10 melanoma patients, the lesion may have no color at all and is difficult to diagnose.
“These unpigmented melanomas may be pinkish-looking, reddish, purple, normal skin color or essentially clear and colorless,” said Dr. Ronald Moy, a board-certified dermatologist in Beverly Hills, California and a spokesperson for the Skin Cancer Foundation.
Moy said in an email that these atypical melanomas can resemble other forms of skin cancers or, worse, may be mistaken for benign moles, scars or cysts, which may prove dangerous, since early detection of melanoma is critical.
Indeed, Pon and Micieli say any lesions suspected of being melanoma should be examined by a dermatologist, especially a lesion with so-called “ABCDE” features: Asymmetry, Border irregularity, Color variation, Diameter over 6 mm and Evolving or changing.
“Prevention and early detection are key,” agreed Dr. Emily Newsom, a dermatologist at UCLA Health in Los Angeles.
For prevention, dermatologists recommend frequent reapplication of at least 30 SPF broad-spectrum sunscreen as well as sun protective clothing and wide brimmed hats.
Finally, Pon and Micieli advise, when patients do have melanoma – particularly in cosmetically sensitive areas like face – the optimal way to excise it is with Mohs surgery, in which thin layers of the tumor are removed until only cancer-free tissue remains.
Researchers have made “tremendous breakthroughs” in learning about the genes involved in melanoma, said Dr. Jeffrey Farma, co-director of the Melanoma and Skin Cancer Program at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia.
As a result, Farma added, great strides are being made in targeted therapies and immunotherapies for treating advanced melanoma and improving survival.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

PRIOR INSURANCE AUTHORIZATIONS - ANOTHER OBSTACLE IN PROVIDING PATIENT CARE

Over 1 in 4 physicians say prior authorizations lead to serious adverse events, AMA survey finds

Fierce Healthcare (2/6, Finnegan) reports, “In a survey (pdf) by the American Medical Association” conducted online in December, “28% of 1,000 responding physicians said the prior authorization process required by health insurers for certain drugs, tests and treatments have led to serious or life-threatening adverse events for patients.” Physicians were specifically asked “if the prior authorization process ever affected care delivery and led to a serious adverse event, such as a death, hospitalization, disability or permanent bodily damage or other life-threatening event for a patient in their care.” In an announcement that released the result of the survey, AMA Chair Jack Resneck, Jr., M.D., said, “The AMA survey continues to illustrate that poorly designed, opaque prior authorization programs can pose an unreasonable and costly administrative obstacle to patient-centered care.” Dr. Resneck added, “The time is now for insurance companies to work with physicians, not against us, to improve and streamline the prior authorization process so that patients are ensured timely access to the evidence-based, quality healthcare they need.”