Medicare Cuts Hurt Cancer Patients

Coborn Cancer Center at CentraCare Health System in St. Cloud and the Mayo Clinic in Rochester are two jewels in Minnesota’s health care crown, offering some of the best cancer care in the world. More than 800,000 Minnesotans are eligible to receive vital cancer treatments, like chemotherapy, under Medicare Part B.

Seniors battling cancer frequently rely on community-based clinics or doctor’s offices to provide these treatments, yet the majority of the nearly 30,000 Minnesotans diagnosed with cancer each year could soon be forced to seek treatment elsewhere. (more…)

Op-ed: Save Program That Provides Drugs For The Poor

The biggest debate of this past legislative session was over how Utah should provide health care for people who cannot afford insurance. Should Utah expand Medicaid as indicated by the Affordable Care Act (ACA)? At its heart this is what the debate over “Healthy Utah” is all about. As colleagues in the Utah State Senate, the two of us have disagreed on this issue.

While we differ on the role the federal government should play in our day-to-day health care decisions, we do agree that we must do all we can to provide access to quality care to everyone, regardless of ability to pay, by both government and private efforts. (more…)

Medicare Proposes to Pay Doctors to Have End-of-Life Care Discussions

Federal health officials are proposing that Medicare begin paying doctors to discuss end-of-life issues with their patients, six years after the “death panel” controversy erupted in the early days of the debate over President Obama’s health-care legislation.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released the new plan Wednesday as part of its annual Medicare physician payment rule. The proposed rule includes reimbursement for “advance care planning.” The final rule is due Nov. 1, and payments would start Jan. 1. The discussions would be voluntary. (more…)

Supercomputing Reveals the Genetic Code of Cancer

Cancer researchers are now using one of the world’s fastest computers to detect which parts of the genetic code may cause bowel and prostate cancer.

Cancer researchers must use one of the world’s fastest computers to detect which versions of genes are only found in cancer cells. Every form of cancer, even every tumour, has its own distinct variants. (more…)

Predicting Death in Advanced Cancer

Study offers clues to guide clinicians, families about end of life.

Late-occurring signs of declining neurocognitive function proved to be highly specific and highly likely markers of impending death in patients with advanced-stage cancer, investigators reported. (more…)

Study Finds Fear of Cancer Can Be Either a Facilitator or Deterrent to Getting Colorectal Cancer Screenings

People who worry a lot about cancer are more likely to want to get screened for colon cancer—perhaps due to a desire for reassurance—but having a more visceral negative response to thinking about cancer acted as a deterrent to actually getting screened, according to a British study by Vrinten et al. Understanding the different aspects of cancer fear and their effects on the decision and action processes leading to screening participation might help in the design of effective public health messages. The study is published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. (more…)

Number of Young Patients with Newly Diagnosed Colorectal Cancer Anticipated to Double

November 5, 2014 – In the next 15 years, more than one in 10 colon cancers and nearly one in four rectal cancers will be diagnosed in patients younger than the traditional screening age, according to researchers at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. This growing public health problem is underscored by data trends among 20- to 34-year-olds in the U.S., among whom the incidence of colon and rectal cancer (CRC) is expected to increase by 90% and 124.2%, respectively, by 2030. (more…)

Dangerous Drug Shortages

Dozens of essential medications are in critically short supply. Here’s what you need to know

Emergency medical technicians in Dayton, Ohio, have had such difficulty obtaining the seizure drug benzodiazepine the last few years that they’ve realized their best option is to “step on the gas and get to the hospital as quick as possible,” says David Gerstner, who helps coordinate emergency medical services for the area. (more…)

Scientists Detect Early Sign of Pancreatic Cancer

Researchers say they’ve identified a sign of early development of pancreatic cancer, a leading cause of cancer death. And, they add, their discovery might lead one day to a new test to detect the disease in its initial and more treatable stages.

The early sign is an increase in levels of certain amino acids, and this occurs before patients develop symptoms and the disease is typically diagnosed.

The finding came from analyses of blood samples from 1,500 people taking part in large health-tracking studies. (more…)

Phase III Trial Data Suggest Potential New Treatment Strategies for Prostate Cancer

In the last few years we witnessed the approval of several new agents for metastatic prostate cancer that have resulted in improved overall survival (OS)

Currently, androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) remains a central part of treatment for patients with high-risk non-metastatic and also metastatic prostate cancer. Despite the generally good response of metastatic disease to this approach, many men will eventually develop castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC), for which prognosis is still poor. Data from randomised phase III trials presented at yesterday’s Proffered Paper Session on GU, Prostate, have shown a significant OS benefit in patients with ‘high-volume’ metastatic prostate cancer receiving combined antiandrogen and docetaxel as first-line treatment and have suggested a benefit of adding local radiotherapy to androgen deprivation in newly diagnosed high-risk non-metastatic (M0) prostate cancer. (more…)