Our weekly roundup of the latest news in the world of health.
Several expert groups announced new screening guidelines for cervical cancer this week. They say that women over 30 can safely get a Pap test only every 5 years under certain conditions. A study that kept track of men's health for 11 years after prostate cancer screening found that those who were screened did not live longer than other men. They were less likely to die of prostate cancer, however. The U.S. government launched an anti-smoking campaign this week. It features advertisements with graphic images showing people harmed by smoking. British researchers this week urged doctors to stop using all-metal hip replacements. Medical records showed that these devices are more likely to fail than ceramic or plastic replacements.
This Issue: Cervical Screening OK Every 5 Years with 2 Tests Study: Prostate Tests Not Saving Lives CDC Sponsors Graphic Anti-Smoking Ads Study: More Failures with Metal Hip Replacements
In the News:
Cervical Screening OK Every 5 Years with 2 Tests
Experts say a new testing option could allow many women to get screened less often for cervical cancer. The new advice is for women age 30 and older. If a Pap test and a human papilloma virus (HPV) test both show normal results, women can wait 5 years to get tested again. Or they can follow previous advice and get a Pap every 3 years. Several expert groups issued the updated guidelines this week. They included the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and the American Cancer Society. The guidelines say the longer wait between Pap tests is safe if women are not infected with HPV. This virus causes cervical cancer. Women could become infected after the test. But 5 years is enough time to treat any abnormal cells before they could turn into cancer. Many women under 30 are infected with HPV. However, the body usually clears the infection on its own. For this reason, HPV tests are not recommended for women under 30. The experts continue to advise younger women to get a Pap test every 3 years, starting at age 21. Women of any age with abnormal results would get more frequent tests. The Associated Press wrote about the guidelines.
Study: Prostate Tests Not Saving Lives
Long-term results of a European study have found that prostate cancer screening reduces deaths from the cancer, but not overall deaths. The prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test has been controversial for screening – testing of men without symptoms. Many men with a high PSA result do not have cancer. Many of the cancers that are detected grow so slowly they never would have caused harm. The new research is a follow-up on a study of 162,000 men. All were ages 55 to 69 when the study began. Half were offered PSA tests every 2 to 4 years. After 11 years of follow-up, this group was 21% less likely to die of prostate cancer than a group that was not screened. But the overall death rates were the same in both groups. Researchers said PSA testing would prevent 1 prostate cancer death for every 37 cancers found. To find these cancers, about 1,055 men would need to be offered PSA tests. The New England Journal of Medicine published the study this week. The Associated Press wrote about it.
CDC Sponsors Graphic Anti-Smoking Ads
The U.S. government this week launched an ad campaign featuring shocking, graphic images of people harmed by smoking. Officials said the ads are an attempt to wake up Americans who still smoke despite higher tobacco taxes and public smoking bans. Even with these increased barriers, 1 adult out of 5 still smokes. That rate hasn't fallen since 2003. The campaign is the first national advertising effort by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It will include billboards and print, radio and TV ads, at a cost of $54 million. One ad portrays a man shaving around the tracheotomy hole in his throat that he uses to breathe and speak. The surgery was part of his treatment for head and neck cancer caused by smoking. For others portrayed in the ads, smoking led to heart surgery, lost limbs or paralysis. Advertisements also include a hotline number and advice on how to quit. The Associated Press wrote about the campaign.
Study: More Failures with Metal Hip Replacements
British experts this week urged doctors to stop using metal-on-metal hip replacements because they fail more often than other types. The new study was based on data about more than 400,000 hip replacements in England and Wales. All were done between 2003 and 2011. About 31,000 were metal-on-metal joints. The others were plastic or ceramic. Within 5 years after surgery, about 6% of those with metal joints needed to have them fixed or replaced. About 2% of people with other types of joints needed such surgery. Earlier this month, the British agency that regulates medical devices issued a warning about metal joints. It said people with these devices should get blood tests each year to make sure metals are not seeping into their bodies. The agency also described symptoms that could signal muscle damage and a need for replacement of the joint. U.S. regulators have asked makers of metal joints to conduct safety studies. Worldwide, use of metal joints has dropped in recent years. The journal Lancet published the study online. The Associated Press wrote about it.
Used with the permission of the copyright owner. All rights reserved. The above summaries are not intended to provide advice on personal medical matters, nor are they intended to be a substitute for consultation with a physician.