Long Radiation Treatments Called Unnecessary in Many Breast Cancer Cases

Two-thirds of women who have lumpectomies for breast cancer are receiving radiation treatment that lasts nearly twice as long as necessary, a new study reports.

The conventional, longer treatment lasts five to seven weeks. But four rigorous studies and guidelines from a leading radiology society conclude that three to four weeks of more intense radiation is just as effective. (more…)

Drug Shortage Crisis Puts Public Health at Risk

Hospitals and pharmacies around the country are facing severe shortages of essential drugs. These shortages can limit access to critical medications and compromise patient safety, resulting in serious illness and even death. In a 2011 survey, the American Hospital Association reported that 82% of hospitals had to delay therapy due to a drug shortage. And the consequences of drugs shortages go beyond delays. A 2010 report by the Institute for Safe Medication Practices implicated drug shortages in medication errors, adverse drug reactions and several deaths. (more…)

With 1.5 Million Sign-Ups So Far, Obamacare Enrollment Is Brisk

With less than a week until the deadline to buy individual health insurance that begins Jan. 1, experts say sign-ups are on course to hit or exceed the Obama administration’s projection of about 9 million enrollees in 2015.

Several weeks into the second year of the Affordable Care Act’s insurance exchanges, about 1.5 million people have enrolled in coverage, according to data from state and federal exchanges. (more…)

Breast Cancer Prevention Drug Gives Lasting Protection, Study Finds

Taking the cancer drug tamoxifen for five years drives down the incidence of breast cancer in women at high risk for the disease by close to 30%, researchers have found. And the medication’s protective effects against breast cancer appear to last, unabated, for as long as 16 years after a woman stops taking it, a new study says. (more…)

CPAN and Florida Cancer Specialists Present Patient Advocacy

The Community Oncology Alliance (COA), a not-for-profit organization dedicated to preserving access to community cancer care, and its advocacy arm, the Community Oncology Alliance Patient Advocacy Network (CPAN), conducted a Patient Advocacy Educational Event in conjunction with Florida Cancer Specialists and Research Institute (FCS). (more…)

Abuse of Federal Drug Program Hurts TN’s Poorest

Failed federal entitlement programs are characteristically enacted under the guise of well-intentioned policy goals. Unfortunately, they often end up failing to achieve those good intentions, and fall prey to abuse — and one such federal program in Tennessee appears to be the latest example that fits the bill. The 340B Drug Pricing Program, originally designed to make prescription drugs more affordable for low-income patients, has instead devolved into a corporate welfare scheme, lining Tennessee hospitals’ pockets with millions intended for the state’s most vulnerable populations. (more…)

A Doctor’s Concern for Private Practice

Indiana’s private practitioners, family doctors among them, need your help — a Code Red, if you will. Specifically, they need you to understand the economic pressures changing how your medical care is provided — and not just those changes associated with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The Wall Street Journal, for instance, warned earlier this week that the pieces of legislation, both Republican and Democrat, headed for approval this next Congress all favor the consolidation of doctors into salaried roles inside hospitals “in effect ending independent medical practices.” (more…)

Triple negative breast cancer casts a long shadow of worry, study shows

For women with so-called “triple negative” breast cancer, a new study confirms something many of them already know: The worry never goes away.

A study to be unveiled at the annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium later this week shows that triple negative breast cancer patients have more fear, anxiety and worry than other breast cancer patients. (more…)

Report: Many U.S. Medicaid doctors often unavailable

A new federal report suggesting a substantial percentage of U.S. doctors who are supposed to see Medicaid patients are unable or unavailable to do so bolsters outgoing Republican Gov. Tom Corbett’s claim that Pennsylvania’s working poor could be better served with private health insurance coverage.

In a report issued Tuesday, the U.S. Office of the Inspector General found that “slightly more than half of providers could not offer appointments to enrollees.” Medicaid enrollees are supposed to select their doctors from a list of providers connected to each Medicaid managed care plan. (more…)

CMS Proposes Coverage With Evidence Development For Lung Cancer Screening With Low Dose CT

On November 11, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released its Proposed Decision Memo for Screening Lung Cancer with Low Dose Computed Tomography (LDCT), which is expected to be finalized in mid-December. Despite a negative assessment by its own advisory committee, CMS has proposed coverage with evidence development (CED) for an annual “lung cancer screening counseling and shared-decision-making visit” and, for appropriate beneficiaries, additional screening with LDCT. (more…)