Health News Review
  • Oct 9 2013

    Beware the polyp police

    Alan Cassels of British Columbia writes, “The polyp police are coming.” He explores the introduction of a new Provincial Colon Screening Program in British Columbia. And he raises many questions in a very thoughtful analysis: “Does a polyp automatically mean a death sentence? Not at all—only about 2.5 polyps in a thousand will progress to [...]

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  • Oct 8 2013

    When patients become pitchwomen: The duty of the medical journalist

    Another hospital claims a “first,” and another local newspaper bites on the bait, writing a story that is devoid of evidence but filled with one woman’s “success story.”  That’s just part of what bugged Theresa O’Brien when she read the story in her local paper.  Ms. O’Brien is a freelance technology and marketing analyst. She [...]

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  • Sep 30 2013

    Can we remove “gamechanger” from the health care news lexicon?

    The latest example is news out of the European Cancer Congress (ECC) in Amsterdam. Roche immunotherapy drug may be ‘game changer’ in lung cancer – Reuters reported.  Excerpt:  Of 53 patients with NSCLC tumours treated with the drug, 23 percent saw their tumours shrink, according to results presented at the European Cancer Congress (ECC) in [...]

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  • Sep 19 2013

    “Not-so-fine line between empowerment and fear, between awareness and exploitation” on testicular cancer campaigns

    Veteran public health reporter André Picard of The Globe and Mail writes, “Sack the hysteria: Men’s shorts aren’t filled with cancer time bombs.“  He also posts this image from one campaign. Story excerpt: “Not only are the big organizations such as the Canadian Cancer Society starting to take interest in men’s gonads, a bunch of [...]

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  • Sep 19 2013

    Too much uneven, imbalanced reporting of colon cancer screening studies

    There’s been a very effective long term marketing campaign on behalf of colonoscopy – which is not the only colon cancer screening option.  In fact, the US Preventive Services Task Force says the options – fecal occult blood testing, sigmoidoscopy, and colonoscopy -  each have risks and benefits that vary – in its screening recommendation [...]

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  • Sep 9 2013

    When the word “cancer” corrupts thought and action. Labeling hurts. The words matter.

    In recent weeks, there have been new calls for new names for some cancer diagnoses – cancer labels – that change peoples’ lives forever. This week in the BMJ, Dr. Barry Kramer, director of the National Cancer Institute’s division of cancer prevention, and two colleagues wrote an editorial, “The word ‘cancer’:  how language can corrupt [...]

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  • Sep 6 2013

    Insurers doing what feds haven’t in refusing to pay for proton beam therapy

    The Los Angeles Times reports, “Blue Shield of California to curb coverage of pricey cancer therapy.” “As hospitals race to offer the latest in high-tech care, a major California health insurer is pushing back and refusing to pay for some of the more expensive and controversial cancer treatments. Blue Shield of California is taking on [...]

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  • Aug 21 2013

    A “silver bullet” cancer drug…for 5 mice, that is!

    In its September issue, Prevention magazine – in its “Need to Know: Medical Breakthroughs” section – has this headline: Silver Bullet Cancer Drug Set to Begin Clinical Trials The brief story that follows trumpets one study in five mice, and then reveals that human trials are expected to begin in early 2014.  Begin, not wrap [...]

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  • Jul 29 2013

    Cautions on cancer screening, overdiagnosis and overtreatment

    Several noteworthy articles in journals today. In JAMA, a breast cancer specialist, a prostate cancer specialist, and an esophogeal cancer specialist co-authored a Viewpoint article, “Overdiagnosis and Overtreatment in Cancer: An Opportunity for Improvement.” Excerpt: “In March 2012, the National Cancer Institute convened a meeting to evaluate the problem of “overdiagnosis,” which occurs when tumors [...]

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  • Jun 6 2013

    False claims about colonoscopy in response to NYT story

    The following is a guest post by Dr. Richard Hoffman, one of our expert editors on HealthNewsReview.org. ————————– The New York Times story, “The $2.7 Trillion Medical Bill: Colonoscopies Explain Why U.S. Leads the World in Health Expenditures,” about how the exorbitant costs associated with colonoscopy contribute to the high costs of American medicine has [...]

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