The Boston Globe (10/24, McCluskey) reports Massachusetts General Hospital recently “became the first US hospital to launch use of a new mammography system” developed by General Electric that “is designed to make the experience more comfortable” by using a “hand-held remote that allows patients – not the medical professional administering the test – to control the level of pressure they feel during the exam.” The FDA approved the device in September “after finding that it did not lead to lower-quality images or significantly increase exam times.”
Reuters (10/19, Harding) reports that “African-American women have worse breast cancer survival than white women in the US, and” research published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology “suggests that is largely because black women are less likely to have health insurance.” The research indicated approximately “23 percent of black women diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004-2013 had either no health insurance or had Medicaid coverage, versus 8 percent of white breast cancer patients.” This “insurance difference explained about 37 percent of the excess mortality among black women, the researchers calculated.”
Medscape (10/19, Harrison) reports, meanwhile, that “tumor characteristics accounted for 23.2% of the excess risk.”
Aunt Minnie (10/23) reports that the University of Virginia Health System is “enrolling women diagnosed with stage IV metastatic breast cancer in a new clinical trial that will combine two therapies: focused ultrasound and a cancer immunotherapy drug, according to the Focused Ultrasound Foundation.” The article adds that participants “will receive noninvasive focused ultrasound therapy using Theraclion’s EchoPulse system to ablate part of the primary breast tumor or metastatic tumors and also doses of pembrolizumab (Keytruda, Merck).” Dr. David Brenin, one of the leaders of the study, said, “Focused ultrasound induces a local immune response and may have the ability to change that paradigm, enabling a medication like pembrolizumab to make a difference.”
Aunt Minnie (10/12) reports that research indicates “employees at companies with fewer than 25 workers are less likely to be screened for cervical, breast, and colorectal cancer.” The findings were published online in Preventive Medicine.
Medscape (10/11, Harrison) reports a study published in the Annals Of Surgical Oncology in July found that “a large proportion of surgeons in the United States and even a good percentage of radiation oncologists still insist on treating women aged 70 years and older with adjuvant radiotherapy after they undergo lumpectomy for early-stage breast cancer,” in spite of “overwhelming evidence that adjuvant radiotherapy provides no survival benefit and very little protection against recurrence compared with no radiation.” A survey conducted in follow-up to the study revealed “that 40% of surgeons and 20% of radiation oncologists felt that omitting radiotherapy after lumpectomy was ‘unreasonable.’” In addition, “almost half of the surgeons surveyed were concerned about legal liability issues if radiotherapy were omitted and patients subsequently developed a local recurrence, as were about one quarter of radiation oncologists.”