Health News Review
  • Apr 25 2013

    Two noteworthy breast cancer stories: “The Feel-Good War” and guidelines didn’t change practice

    The New York Times Sunday magazine piece, “Our Feel-Good War on Breast Cancer,” is by Peggy Orenstein who begins: “I used to believe that a mammogram saved my life. I even wrote that in the pages of this magazine. It was 1996, and I had just turned 35 when my doctor sent me for an [...]

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  • Apr 21 2013

    Star Tribune tries to be cute about colonoscopy, misses boat on alternatives

    We often write about incomplete, imbalanced stories we see about screening tests. My local paper, the Star Tribune, published a doozie this weekend. The online story headline was:  Baby boomers embracing colonoscopies In print, it was:  Look At The Upside The subhead was the same in either format: “From highway billboards to celebrities, everyone is [...]

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  • Apr 19 2013

    Devil is in details – not the headlines – of stories on new colorectal test

    The story:  A company, Exact Sciences, announces (but doesn’t publish) results of a study of its experimental Colo-guard colon cancer screening test that looks for changes in DNA in stool samples. The New York Times splashes: “Noninvasive Cancer Test Is Effective, Study Finds.” But the 2nd sentence reads: “Still, the results fell short of investor [...]

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  • Apr 10 2013

    Men’s Health feature: The $6 Million Dollar Gland

    Jim Thornton’s story is about prostate cancer screening.  The six million dollar figure refers to the cost of screening for and treating prostate cancer.  Excerpt: “At $1,000 or more per biopsy, the cost to U.S. health care for prostate biopsies alone is estimated to run into the billions each year. Whenever cancer is found, expenses [...]

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  • Mar 19 2013

    Maybe we should stop anchor chit-chat after TV health news stories: new example in mammography story

    The authors of the paper in JAMA Internal Medicine, “Outcomes of Screening Mammography by Frequency, Breast Density, and Postmenopausal Hormone Therapy,” wrote: Controversy exists about the frequency women should undergo screening mammography and whether screening interval should vary according to risk factors beyond age. And concluded, as a result of the analysis they report: Women [...]

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  • Jan 31 2013

    Consumer Reports cover story: Cancer tests you need – and those you don’t

    The cover story of the March edition of Consumer Reports is “The cancer tests you need – and those you don’t.“  You need a subscription to access the full content, but here’s a glimpse of what’s inside. The headings are: Overselling cancer tests A new understanding of the disease Misleading statistics Screening harms Colon-cancer screening [...]

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  • Jan 22 2013

    UK citizen’s jury advises on communication about the benefits and harms of breast screening

    Two months ago, I read on the BMJ website “Citizens’ jury disagrees over whether screening leaflet should put reassurance before accuracy.” I’ve been following some of the controversies in the British National Health Service’s breast screening program for some time. An example here. I asked Angela Coulter, PhD, to write a guest blog post about [...]

  • Jan 15 2013

    The media are influential…on everyone else, say Alzheimer’s specialists

    Nice catch by my colleague Andrew Holtz (one of our story reviewers on as he combed the literature and settled on a paper in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease entitled, “Dementia Specialists and Early Adoption of Amyloid Imaging.”  With Andrew’s permission, I am reposting his piece in its entirety. ————————————————— A new survey of [...]

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  • Jan 15 2013

    Doctors who order PSA blood test without discussing it with patients

    A new analysis published in the Annals of Family Medicine,”Primary Care Physicians’ Use of an Informed Decision-Making Process for Prostate Cancer Screening,” found that 24% of primary care physicians who responded to a survey said they ordered screening without discussing it with patients. How’s that for shared decision-making? Fewer than 48% of those surveyed said [...]

  • Jan 14 2013

    Colonoscopy, conflicts of interest, and cautionary tales

    Dr. Michael Kirsch, who claims that “when I’m not writing, I’m performing colonoscopies, has published a blog post, “Is Colonoscopy the Best Colon Cancer Screening Test?” It’s an excellent piece, which I encourage you to read in its entirety.  It touches on medical conflicts of interest, comparative effectiveness research, the medical arms race, medical marketing [...]

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