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This Week in Health
July 03, 2014

 

Our weekly roundup of the latest news in the world of health.

Evidence doesn't support doing routine annual pelvic exams for women, a group of primary-care doctors said this week. The American College of Physicians said women should still get screened for cervical cancer. For most women, that should occur every three to five years. A partial transplant of bone marrow stem cells from a donor may reverse sickle cell disease for some adults. Most of those taking part in a small study benefited from the transplant. Another new study found that steroid injections may not help people with one cause of back pain.

Stay well.

This Issue:

Doctors Say Routine Pelvic Exam Not Needed
Transplant May Help Adults with Sickle Cell
Steroid Shots May Not Improve Back Pain

 

In the News:

Doctors Say Routine Pelvic Exam Not Needed
Women don't need annual pelvic exams, a large group of primary-care doctors says. The American College of Physicians (ACP) said this week that there is no good evidence that the exams provide a benefit. But the group does endorse regular screening tests for cervical cancer. These tests are recommended every 3 to 5 years. The new guideline applies to average women who are not pregnant and do not have symptoms of a problem. Pelvic exams are intended to look for infections, cancers and other problems in the reproductive organs. But research doesn't show that these exams are any good at finding these problems, an ACP committee found. Three studies on ovarian cancer found that pelvic exams did not help to detect it. One of the studies found that 1.5% of women ended up having surgery they did not need. Several studies looked at harms from regular pelvic exams. In 8 surveys, 11% to 60% of women called the exams painful or uncomfortable. In 7 studies, 10% to 80% of women said the exams caused fear, anxiety or embarrassment. The journal Annals of Internal Medicine published the study. HealthDay News wrote about it June 30.

 

Transplant May Help Adults with Sickle Cell
A partial transplant of bone-marrow stem cells may reverse sickle cell disease in adults, a new study finds. People with sickle cell disease have abnormally shaped red blood cells. They get stuck in blood vessels. This causes organ damage, pain and other medical problems. The new study included 30 adults with severe sickle cell disease. Each of them had a brother or sister who was a suitable match for a bone-marrow stem cell transplant. The sibling donor's cells were mixed with some of the patient's own cells. During 3.4 years of follow-up, the partial transplant reversed sickle cell disease in 26 out of 30 people, researchers said. In these patients, the bone marrow began making normal red blood cells. Fifteen people also were able to stop taking drugs to prevent rejection of the transplant. Overall, people were much less likely than before to need hospital treatment for the disease. Use of narcotic drugs for pain also was greatly reduced. The Journal of the American Medical Association published the study this week. HealthDay News wrote about it.

 

Steroid Shots May Not Improve Back Pain
A new study suggests that steroid shots may not help people with a common back pain problem. The study focused on spinal stenosis. With this condition, the open space in the spinal canal is narrowed. This squeezes nerves, causing pain. Doctors sometimes give injections of a steroid to reduce swelling and inflammation. This is combined with a local anesthetic such as lidocaine to numb the area as the shot is given. The new study included 400 people with back and leg pain from spinal stenosis. They were randomly divided into 2 groups. One group received either 1 or 2 injections that contained a steroid plus lidocaine. The other group got injections of lidocaine only, without the steroid. Six weeks later, there were no differences between the groups in their levels of pain or function. About two-thirds of people who got the steroid injection were satisfied with their treatment. Just over half of the lidocaine group reported being satisfied. The New England Journal of Medicine published the study this week. HealthDay News 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.

 


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