Our weekly roundup of the latest news in the world of health.
Having regular mammograms reduces breast cancer deaths, and the benefit is greater as time passes, researchers said this week. They were releasing long-term follow-up results from a large Swedish study. Another study about cancer screening also was published this week. It found that low-radiation CT scans of people at high risk for lung cancer reduced deaths more than X-ray screening. But most of the abnormal test results were false alarms that required more tests. At least 116 million U.S. adults have long-term pain, and it's poorly treated, a report issued this week said. Results of an experimental treatment also were released this week. Three people on dialysis received replacement blood vessels made from cells given by a single donor. The cells were grown in the laboratory into sheets of cells that were rolled to make blood vessels.
This Issue: Follow-up Finds More Lives Saved With Mammograms With Lung CT, Deaths Down, Many False Alarms Report Says Lingering Pain Common, Poorly Treated Replacement Blood Vessels Called Promising
In the News:
Follow-up Finds More Lives Saved With Mammograms
Breast cancer screening with mammography reduces breast cancer deaths, and the benefits increase over time, a study released this week says. The new research is a follow-up to a Swedish study of more than 133,000 women. Their ages ranged from 40 to 74 when the study began. They were randomly divided into 2 groups. One group was invited to receive regular mammograms. The other group did not get screened. The new follow-up was done 29 years after the study began. It showed a 30% lower rate of cancer deaths among women who had mammograms. The data suggest that screening prevented 1 breast cancer death for every 1,000 to 1,500 mammograms, researchers said. Most of the benefit occurs after the first 10 years of follow-up, the study said. The journal Radiology published the study. Canadian Press wrote about it.
With Lung CT, Deaths Down, Many False Alarms
Lung cancer screening with CT scans can save lives, but with a vast number of false alarms, detailed results of a major study show. The New England Journal of Medicine published the new data this week. Initial study results were announced in November. The study was stopped early then because CT scans reduced death rates from lung cancer 20% compared with X-rays. The study included 53,000 current or former heavy smokers. They were 55 to 74 years old and had no signs or history of lung cancer. Researchers randomly divided them into 2 groups. One group received 3 annual low-dose CT scans. The other group received 3 annual X-rays. About 40% had at least 1 suspicious finding on a test. But more than 95% of those did not have cancer. Researchers kept track of people for another 5 years. In that time, 356 people screened with CT died from lung cancer, compared with 443 in the X-ray group. Researchers estimated that screening 320 people with CT would prevent 1 cancer death. The Associated Press wrote about the study.
Report Says Lingering Pain Common, Poorly Treated
At least 116 million U.S. adults have pain that lasts for weeks or longer, and they often don't get good treatment, an expert report says. The Institute of Medicine, an independent group, released the report this week. Several barriers are hindering treatment, the report said. They include concerns about narcotic painkiller abuse. The subjective nature of pain also can make diagnosis difficult. Effective treatment also may require more than one method, and few doctors are trained to manage pain care, the report said. The experts called for several improvements. They said doctors should assess and document patients' pain. Specialty groups also should work with primary care doctors on pain management. The experts also called for better education of the public and doctors about pain. The Associated Press wrote about the report.
Replacement Blood Vessels Called Promising
Three dialysis patients have become the first people to receive blood vessels made in the lab from another person's skin cells. This method could be the first practical way to mass-produce blood vessels. In a previous study, patients did well with blood vessels grown from their own skin. But this took too long and cost too much to be used on a wide scale, experts say. The new method uses skin cells from a single donor. They are grown into sheets of cells. The sheets are rolled to form blood vessels. The three Polish patients who received the vessels are doing well two to eight months later, researchers said this week. They have not needed anti-rejection drugs. Dialysis patients use a machine to filter their blood after their kidneys fail. Because they get so many needle sticks, they may run out of suitable vessels. The new vessels can provide replacements. The Associated Press wrote about the new research.
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