Healio (1/27, Southall) reported on a planned “NCI-supported trial” that “will compare tomosynthesis – or 3-D mammography – with conventional 2-D mammography for the screening of breast cancer in asymptomatic women.” The Tomosynthesis Mammographic Imaging Screening Trial will be “the first randomized trial designed to determine if one digital mammography methodology is superior to the other.” The trial is anticipated “to enroll 165,000 asymptomatic women aged 45 to 74 years, and nearly 100 mammography clinics in the United States are expected to participate.” In a press release, Worta McCaskill-Stevens, MD, director of the NCI Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP), said, “The evolution of mammography technology provides us with an opportunity to fill in the gaps in our knowledge about two available breast cancer screening tests.” The article also included an interview with McCaskill-Stevens, where she discusses the differences between screening modalities, the reasons for the planned trial, and the anticipated date when trial results might be available.
Editor’s Note: The trial is coordinated through the American College of Radiology (ACR) Center for Research and Innovation.
HealthDay (1/26, Norton) reported that research suggests “older women who carry some extra body fat may face a heightened risk of breast cancer – even if their weight is normal.” Investigators found that “on average...women with higher body fat levels had a greater risk of developing ER-positive breast cancer: Women whose fat levels were in the top 25 percent were twice as likely to develop the cancer, compared to women in the bottom 25 percent.” The findings were presented at an American Association for Cancer Research conference. HealthDay pointed out that participants’ body fat was “measured with dual energy X-ray absorptiometry.”
The New York Times (1/24, Pear, Subscription Publication) reports that on Wednesday, by a vote of 55-43, the Senate confirmed Alex Azar as the new HHS Secretary. The article says Azar, who is a former executive at Eli Lilly, “faces two huge challenges.” He must find a way to reduce drug prices, and determine how to handle the ACA, “a task for which he will be personally and legally responsible.”
The Los Angeles Times (1/24, Levey) reports that Azar has vowed “to prioritize key issues important to both Republicans and Democrats, including the opioid epidemic, the burden of healthcare costs on Americans and the rising price of pharmaceuticals.” However, because Lilly dramatically increased the price of its insulin product during Azar’s tenure, “many consumer advocates [are] skeptical he will take on the powerful pharmaceutical industry.”
Aunt Minnie (1/24, Yee) reports that the American College of Radiology released guidelines recommending that “women at high risk for breast cancer should start annual mammography screening before the age of 40, and they may benefit from supplemental screening modalities such as breast MRI.” The guidelines were published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology. A team led by Dr. Debra Monticciolo of Texas A&M University and Scott & White Medical Center also suggests that all women should be “evaluated for breast cancer risk” by age 30. The piece outlines some of the factors that place a woman at higher risk.
HealthDay (1/18, Norton) reports that research suggests “more American women started getting recommended mammography screening after an” Affordable Care Act “rule made the tests free.” Investigators found that “after the rule went into effect...the number of women in Medicare Advantage plans who got mammography screening rose by 5.5 percentage points: from just under 60 percent in the two years before the rule, to 65.4 percent in the two years after.” The findings were published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Aunt Minnie (1/17, Casey) also covers the story.