Our weekly roundup of the latest news in the world of health.
Nine doctors' groups this week urged their members and patients to think twice about some types of care. The groups published lists of tests and procedures that they said are often not needed. Unrelated research this week also talked about excess treatment. The study estimated that 15% to 25% of cancers found by a mammogram don't need to be treated. Other research found a possible reason for black women's higher rates of cervical cancer and death from it. They may not clear the infection that causes the cancer from their bodies as quickly as white women. In other infectious disease news, U.S. health officials this week were looking into a multi-state outbreak of salmonella.
This Issue: Doctors Urge Savings on Unneeded Care Study: Some Overtreated after Mammogram HPV Infections May Linger Longer in Black Women U.S. Looks for Source of Salmonella Outbreak
In the News:
Doctors Urge Savings on Unneeded Care
Do you really need that test or treatment? In many cases, the answer is no, a coalition of nine doctors' groups said this week. The groups released lists of five items each. They said doctors and patients should question whether tests and treatments on the lists are needed. They add to spending on health care. And some may even cause harm, the groups said. The items included most colonoscopies repeated after less than 10 years and antibiotics prescribed for most sinus infections. The doctors said people who faint but don't have seizures usually don't need a CT or MRI scan. And most people without heart disease symptoms don't need routine stress tests. Cancer doctors were one of the groups involved. They listed criteria for ending treatment of certain end-stage patients. Doctors of internal and family medicine also were part of the coalition. Other groups included specialists in imaging, allergies and asthma, digestive, kidney and heart diseases. These groups are part of a campaign called Choosing Wisely that will publicize the doctors' advice. The campaign includes unions and employers. The AARP and Consumer Reports also are involved. The Associated Press wrote about the campaign.
Study: Some Overtreated after Mammogram
About 15% to 25% of breast cancers found after a mammogram do not need to be treated, a study published this week estimates. But no one knows for sure which cancers are the dangerous ones. So some women get treatment they don't need, the study authors say. The study looked at results of a mammogram screening program in Norway. Women ages 50 to 69 were offered testing every 2 years. Some areas of the country began regular screening earlier than others. Researchers compared cancer rates in areas that started early with those that started later. They estimated that the program prevented 1 death from breast cancer for every 2,500 women offered screening. But they also estimated that 6 to 10 women of every 2,500 got treatment they didn't need. The journal Annals of Internal Medicine published the study. The Associated Press wrote about it.
HPV Infections May Linger Longer in Black Women
Young black women appear to be less able than white women to clear an infection that can cause cervical cancer from their bodies, a new study has found. This may be one reason that black women are more likely to develop and die from cervical cancer. The study was presented this week at a cancer conference. Researchers studied 326 white and 113 black college students. They were given Pap tests, which remove and examine cells from the cervix, every 6 months throughout college. They also were given tests at the same times for human papilloma virus (HPV). Some types of HPV cause cervical cancer. Many young women are infected with HPV at some point. But the infections usually go away on their own within a year or so. They only lead to cancer when they last longer. Black and white women in the study had similar numbers of sex partners and new HPV infections. But black women on average stayed infected about 18 months, compared with 12 months for white women. Two years after infections were found, 56% of blacks and 24% of whites were still infected. The Associated Press wrote about the study.
U.S. Looks for Source of Salmonella Outbreak
U.S. health officials are investigating a growing outbreak of salmonella infection, the Associated Press (AP) reported this week. The outbreak has sickened 90 people and sent 7 to hospitals, AP said. The wire service attributed the information to a memo distributed to staff of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The outbreak has affected 19 states and the District of Columbia so far, the memo said. No deaths have been reported. Most cases have come from the East and Gulf coasts, the memo said. The memo also said the outbreak may be linked to sushi. But an FDA spokesman said the numbers could not be confirmed and would not comment on the other information. He said it's too early to speculate about a cause. The FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are investigating along with state officials.
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.