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In the News

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Included below are news items from the last six months.

Patient Involvement Key to Improving Diagnostic Care, Reducing Errors, says IOM

October 8, 2015

Patient talking to doctorMost people will experience at least one diagnostic error during their lifetime, sometimes with devastating consequences, according to a new report from the Institute of Medicine. The report offers some critical recommendations for improving diagnoses and reducing errors, including more effective teamwork among healthcare professionals, patients, and their families. Photo source: National Cancer Institute, photographer Rhoda Baer

New Drugs Approved for People with Hard to Treat High Cholesterol

September 24, 2015

Protein PCSK9For some people, statins are not effective or effective enough in lowering their blood cholesterol level. Now some of those who also have heart disease, a history of heart attacks or strokes, or hereditary high cholesterol may be helped by a new class of drugs recently approved by the FDA.

New Test for Enterovirus D68 Can Speed Up Diagnoses and Treatment

September 9, 2015

Enterovirus-D68 (EV-D68)Researchers have developed a new diagnostic test for enterovirus D68, a virus that caused a deadly outbreak of severe respiratory illnesses last year. The new test involves an improved technique that reduces the time needed to detect the virus in the lab and would be an important tool in the event of future cases and outbreaks. Photo source: CDC/ Cynthia S. Goldsmith, Yiting Zhang

New Studies: More Americans Would Benefit From Taking Statins to Lower Heart Disease Risk

August 28, 2015

diagram of heartTwo new studies support guidelines released two years ago that would result in more people taking statins to lower cholesterol and prevent heart disease and strokes. Not all health practitioners have agreed with the 2013 guidelines, but given the evidence from these studies, it is important for people to have a conversation with their healthcare providers about what is best for them. Photo source: Chung, M.K., and Rich, M.W. Introduction to the cardiovascular system. Alcohol Health and Research World 14(4):269–276, 1990. Reprinted with permission from NIAAA.

Study Suggests Blood Test Could Find Pancreatic Cancer at Earlier, More Treatable Stages

August 17, 2015

location of pancreas in the body

A small study suggests that a new, experimental blood test may be effective in detecting pancreatic cancer at much earlier stages than the cancer is usually found currently. If larger trials show the same effectiveness for the blood test, a reliable test for pancreatic cancer could be available within the next few years. Photo source: National Cancer Institute. Artist: Don Bliss

Experimental Blood Test Checks for Hundreds of Virus Antibodies at One Time

July 22, 2015

image of virusA blood test with important research potential needs only a small blood sample to test for past exposure to hundreds of viruses. That's a major advance over current testing, which generally checks for one virus at a time. Photo source: CDC, Doug Jordan

On the Horizon: “Liquid Biopsy” for Cancer Studied

July 6, 2015

Circulating tumor DNAInvestigators are studying and making good progress with a new technique that uses a patient's blood sample to look for snippets of DNA that have been shed from cancerous tumors. This liquid biopsy may be a more accurate, sensitive, and convenient way to monitor cancer than traditional methods. Photo source: Jonathan Bailey, National Human Genome Research Institute

Doctors' Group Gives Advice on Screening for Five Major Cancers

June 23, 2015

cervical cancer cells from pap smearIn an effort to reduce confusion and improve the benefits of screening for cancer, the American College of Physicians (ACP) recently issued guidelines for breast, ovarian, prostate, cervical, and colorectal cancer screening. The ACP says it wants healthcare providers to focus on tests that improve health, avoid harms, and eliminate wasteful practices. Photo source: National Cancer Institute

New Arizona Law Expands Number of Lab Tests Consumers Can Order on their Own, Fuels Debate

June 5, 2015

Blood vialsA new law allows Arizonans to request any medical lab test from clinical laboratories without a doctor's order, adding to an ongoing debate on patient autonomy versus oversight by health practitioners. Photo source: National Cancer Institute, Daniel Sone (photographer)

New Study: Genetic Blood Test Better than Standard Prenatal Screening, Still Not Perfect

May 21, 2015

pregnant woman with her hand on her stomach

A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine has found that a relatively new, non-invasive prenatal blood test that screens for Down syndrome in unborn babies is more accurate than standard screening methods, even in low-risk pregnancies. While the test, called cell free fetal DNA testing (cffDNA), has proven to be highly accurate, it does have limitations and it is not yet known how it will fit in with current prenatal testing. Photo source: CDC Public Domain, Ken Hammond

Home-canned Potatoes Likely Source of Botulism in Ohio

May 7, 2015

canned food

Testing has confirmed that home-canned potatoes used to make a potato salad were the likely source of a deadly outbreak of foodborne botulism in Ohio. Over 20 people were sickened and one woman died after eating food at a church potluck. ​Photo source: CDC, Debora Cartagena


On the Horizon: Experimental Blood Test May Help Predict Severity of Food Allergies

April 24, 2015

peanuts in the shellIn the future, people with possible food allergies may be evaluated using a new approach. A team of researchers recently investigated an experimental blood test called the basophil activation test as a potential new way to diagnose food allergies and help predict severity of the reactions.

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