Disease

An aggressive type of cancer surgery that's grown increasingly popular – and controversial – during the last decade is largely determined by patient preference, and not necessarily by sound medical reasoning.

However, a new study reveals that that crucial decision – whether a woman should undergo a double mastectomy when only one breast is affected – is heavily influenced by her surgeon's recommendation.

That significant finding, published today in JAMA Surgery, was announced by doctors at the University of Michigan, who analyzed the decision-making process relating to the procedure, called contralateral prophylactic mastectomy, or CPM.

For surgeons "who most favored initial breast conservation and were most reluctant to perform CPM," only 4% of...

For the vast majority of people who live in the developed world, infectious disease is an afterthought.

Sure, we still catch colds and (if we're old or immunocompromised) can die of influenza, pneumonia, or food poisoning. Antibiotic resistance is scary -- and directly responsible for about 23,000 deaths in the U.S. each year -- but it hasn't quite become the apocalypse we all feared. In general, the microbial world is just not something the average person has to think about very much.

That luxury of modern life is due to the strong defense provided by the "pillars" of our public health system. According to Dr. Michael Osterholm, these...

My heart sank when I received the news.

Nearly two years ago, my friend and colleague, Sam Chi, called to tell me that he had pancreatic cancer. I knew that was a death sentence.

There are various kinds of pancreatic cancer, and his was the most common type: adenocarcinoma. It was stage III, which meant that even though the cancer had not metastasized to other organs, it was locally advanced. The cancer had engulfed nearby blood vessels, making it inoperable.

Even under the best of circumstances, the five-year survival rate for pancreatic adenocarcinoma is devastating. According to the...

Even though colorectal cancer (CRC) is the second-leading cause of cancer death in the US, and even though the US Preventive Services Task Force says that screening for CRC earns a grade A recommendation (the strongest one) for people in the ages of 50 to 75 without risk factors, it seems that people a)don't get screened as they should, and b) don't follow up with additional tests as recommended after normal or abnormal findings. So the question arises, how can we encourage people to first, get screened and second to follow up as appropriate?

Dr. Amit G. Singal from...

New reports out of Australia contain some sobering news. The number of influenza cases this year is 2.5-times that of the same time period last year. Since the flu season down under begins in July, these data may give us a glimpse of what to expect in the US this winter.  New South Wales, which has the highest population of any state in the country, had more than 35,000 confirmed flu cases in August. To put this in perspective, the previous record for most cases in a month was 16,686 this past July. August 2016 had 13,602 cases and August 2015 had 12,901. (Figure 1, below)

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The utility of mammography screening for breast cancer has been a bone of contention, but for some women it has been a life-saver. Indeed, the US Preventive Services Task Force currently recommends that women ages 50-74 should get a mammogram every 2 years. These recommendations are for women who have not been previously diagnosed with the disease, who have no family history or known mutation (e.g BRCA1 or 2) that increases their risk.

The CDC recently reported that the rate for screening tests...

In the United States, we are largely sheltered from some diseases which have a great disease burden globally. Tuberculosis (TB) is one such disease, accounting for nine million newly diagnosed cases and two million deaths annually. TB is second to Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) as the top causes of death from an infectious disease according to the World Health Organization (WHO) and it is not uncommon for people with HIV to be co-infected with TB.

Even in this day and age, there is still a problem with delays in obtaining a timely clinical diagnosis. With a disease like TB, time is of the essence....

Parkinson’s disease can be very visible; one need only think of Mohammed Ali or Michael J Fox. But in terms of commanding our medical and economic attention is seems to be more of an orphan disease. It affects approximately 1 million Americans, dwarfed heart disease that affects 28.4 million or diabetes affected 29 million. So this week’s major advance in treating Parkinson’s may have been overlooked in the media. The FDA has approved amantadine [1] in a new formulation for the dyskinesia in Parkinson’s patients based on a Phase 3 study reported in JAMA Neurology. The study was a randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled – it doesn’t get much better, that demonstrated

  • 37-46% reduction in...

Cholesterol levels in the blood are widely acknowledged indicators of heart disease risk. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the ideal level of LDL or "bad" cholesterol is anything less than 100 mg per dl (100 ccs of blood). But for so-called "good" cholesterol, the HDL, anything above 60 mg/dl is considered protective against heart disease. That's because HDL facilitates removing cholesterol from cells lining the arteries and transporting it back to the liver, thus reducing the risk of blocked arteries.

Some research (for example here) questions...

In its latest weekly report, the CDC details the case of a woman from Arizona who died from tularemia, a rare disease that she acquired from her dog.

Tularemia is caused by the bacterium Francisella tularensis. Because it naturally infects rabbits and rodents, there isn't much we can do to eradicate it. Humans can become sick (with symptoms that can be flu-like) when they come into contact with an infected animal or are bitten by a tick or insect that is acting as a vector. Only about 125 Americans are diagnosed with tularemia annually.

The Arizona woman, who was 73 years old and had several other...