The Health News USA August 21 2017


  • Liquid biopsy’ detects early-stage cancers in blood, researchers hoping to identify cancers at a stage when patients have a better chance at survival.
  • Single-payer health care is still a controversial idea in the US but according to a new survey, a majority of physicians are moving to support it. 56% of doctors supports the single-payer health system.
  • American teens’ sex habits and contraceptive use haven’t changed much over the past decade, according to survey. Contraceptive use increased from 86% to 90% in females and 93% to 95% in males, respectively.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 21st of August 2017. Read by Tabetha Moreto. Health News

A test that scans blood for tumor-specific DNA identified early-stage cancer in more than half of one hundred thirty eight patients with the disease, U.S. researchers reported on Wednesday, marking a new milestone in the rush for so-called “liquid biopsies.” Several companies already offer tests that can detect cancer DNA in the blood of patients with late-stage cancers. Such tests are used to help guide treatment or identify whether cancers have returned after surgery.

Researchers behind the early-stage test hope it could be used to identify cancers at a stage when patients have a better chance at survival.

In making the test, the challenge was to identify rare DNA from real cancers while ignoring other types of genetic alterations that can occur as blood cells divide or genetic alterations that people are born with. For the study, the team screened blood samples from patients with breast, lung, ovarian and colorectal cancers, looking for fifty eight genes typically linked with these cancers. Overall, they were able to detect eighty six out of one hundred thirty eight stage I and stage II cancers. They also sequenced mutations in tumors from one hundred of the patients studied, and found that in eighty two patients, the same mutations found in the blood corresponded with those found in the tumor tissue.They also tried the test on forty four healthy patients, and showed it did not detect any cancer-derived mutations. More studies would be needed in much larger populations to prove the test can safely and accurately identify early-stage cancers, a process that could take up to five years. First uses of the technology would be in patients at high risk for developing cancer, such as heavy smokers.

Single-payer health care is still a controversial idea in the U.S., but a majority of physicians are moving to support it, a new survey finds. Fifty-six percent of doctors registered either strongly support or were somewhat supportive of a single-payer health system, according to the survey by Merritt Hawkins, a physician recruitment firm. In its two thousand eight survey, opinions ran the opposite way — fifty eight percent opposed single-payer. What’s changed? Red tape, doctors tell Merritt Hawkins. Phillip Miller, the firm’s vice president of communications, said that in the thousands of conversations its employees have with doctors each year, physicians often say they are tired of dealing with billing and paperwork, which takes time away from patients.

“Physicians long for the relative clarity and simplicity of single-payer. In their minds, it would create less distractions, taking care of patients — not reimbursement,” Miller said. In a single-payer system, a public entity, such as the government, would pay all the medical bills for a certain population, rather than insurance companies doing that work.

A long-term trend away from physicians owning their practices may be another reason that single-payer is winning some over. Last year was the first in which fewer than half of practicing physicians owned their practice — forty seven point one percent — according to the American Medical Association’s surveys in  two thousand twelve, two thousand fourteen and two thousand sixteen. Many doctors are today employed by hospitals or health care institutions, rather than working for themselves in traditional solo or small-group private practices. Those doctors might be less invested in who pays the invoices, Miller said. The Affordable Care Act established the principle that everyone deserves health coverage, said Shawn Martin, senior vice president for advocacy at the American Academy of Family Physicians. Inside the medical profession, the conversation has changed to how best to provide universal coverage, he said.

American teens’ sex habits and contraceptive use haven’t changed much over the past decade, according to a new report from the National Survey of Family Growth, which is administered by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Since nineteen eighty eight, the CDC has been tracking the sexual activities and behaviors of US teens age fifteen to nineteen. The latest numbers from the report released Thursday involved information gathered in interviews with four thousand one hundred thirty four teens from two thousand eleven to two thousand fifteen. In that time period, forty two percent of female teens and forty four percent of male teens reported having had sex at least once, a one percent decrease for females and a two percent increase for males over the previous four years, spanning two thousand six to two thousand ten. These differences are not statistically significant.However, there was a significant decrease in teens who reported having sex in two thousand eleven through two thousand fifteen compared to those who reported doing so in nineteen eighty eight. Contraceptive use has also significantly increased over the years. Ninety percent of females now report using contraceptives, compared with eighty percent in nineteen eighty eight. Males also reported more contraceptive use, from eighty four percent in nineteen eighty eight to ninety five percent from two thousand eleven to two thousand fifteen. But these rate differences were also not statistically significant.

Compared with the two thousand six to two thousand ten report, the latest survey found that reported contraceptive use increased from eighty six percent to ninety percent in females and ninety three percent to ninety five percent in males, respectively. The report also found that condoms, withdrawal and the birth control pill were still the most commonly used forms of birth control, with percentages staying steady over the years. Aligned with these results, the rates of teen pregnancy and births in the US have been steadily decreasing since the early nineteen nineties. In two thousand fifteen, a historic low of twenty two point three births per one thousand teens was recorded. Joyce Abma, lead author of the report and a demographer at the CDC, said it’s important to understand these trends because teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections are public health issues.

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