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Week In Review — June 6

The Week In Review provides an overview of the past week’s top healthcare content, including industry news and trends, Mayo Clinic and Mayo Medical Laboratories news and upcoming events.

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The Doctor Will See You Now. So Will the Scribe. 

When Ron Meyer visits his doctor, there’s always a third person in the room. Last week, it was Allyson Untiedt, 24, of Minneapolis, who is one of the small but growing number of “scribes” working in medical clinics and hospitals across the Twin Cities. Scribes accompany physicians in exam rooms and help document what happens during a patient’s visit. They tend to a patient’s chart before the exam — so doctors can quickly find the lab and test results they need — and help physicians complete documentation chores afterward. Via Pioneer Press. 

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At WWDC, Apple Is Set to Make Push Into Monitoring Health and Home

Along with operating system updates for mobile and desktop machines, Apple plans to introduce a new health-tracking app at its annual Worldwide Developers’ Conference on Monday, according to a person briefed on the product, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the plans were confidential. The app for mobile devices will track statistics for health or fitness, like a user’s footsteps, heart rate and sleep activity…The health app will initially pull data from third-party fitness and health-monitoring hardware, the person said, but it will most likely be able to connect with a smart watch that Apple is widely expected to release this year. Via NY Times.

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ASCO: A ‘Home Run’ in Prostate Cancer Tx

Overall survival in metastatic prostate cancer improved by more than a year when patients received docetaxel at the start of androgen deprivation therapy (ADT), according to trial results that oncologists here called “unprecedented.” Men randomized to ADT plus docetaxel had a median overall survival (OS) of 57.6 months versus 44.0 months for men who received ADT alone. The survival benefit appeared to be driven by the activity of the combination in patients with a high volume of disease, who had a 40% reduction in the survival hazard, reported Christopher Sweeney, MBBS, of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, and colleagues at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting. Via MedPage Today.

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Previously Unreported MERS Cases Raise Tough Questions for Saudi Arabia

The World Health Organization and other experts are looking for answers to explain how Saudi Arabia missed or failed to report a substantial number of MERS cases and deaths over the past year. Several experts praised the kingdom’s health ministry for making what must have been a difficult disclosure, revealing on Tuesday that the country had not previously reported an additional 113 cases and 92 deaths caused by the Middle East respiratory syndrome virus.Via CTV.

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Some Breast Cancer Patients May Get Drug-Linked Heart Failure: Study

More than one in 10 older breast cancer patients treated with certain chemotherapy drugs develop heart failure, but many don’t get proper treatment for their heart condition, a new study suggests. “The majority of older women who develop heart problems after their breast cancer therapy aren’t treated by a cardiologist, and they had lower quality of care,” study lead author Dr. Jersey Chen, a research scientist and cardiologist at Kaiser Permanente in Rockville, Md., said in an American Heart Association news release. Via HealthDay.

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Negative ALTTO Results Reverberate for Lapatinib, Novel Clinical Trials

A dual HER2-blockade strategy that added lapatinib to trastuzumab for the adjuvant treatment of women with early breast cancer failed to demonstrate a significant improvement in disease-free survival (DFS) over the standard therapy with trastuzumab alone, according to findings from a major clinical trial released Sunday…However, senior study author Edith A. Perez, MD, said during the press briefing that ALTTO did not corroborate the theory that pCR could be used as a surrogate marker in a smaller trial, making large trials such as ALTTO unnecessary. Via OncLive. 

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ASCO: Time to Change Lung Ca Surrogate Endpoint?

An FDA meta-analysis supported response rate as a surrogate endpoint in metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), but others said it’s time to look beyond conventional measures…However, surrogates have been under siege in other areas of medicine. Lung cancer should take a lesson from breast cancer, said Edith Perez, MD, of the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla., and the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology. Via MedPage Today

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Mayo Clinic: Ovarian Cancer Subtypes May Predict Response to Bevacizumab

Molecular sequencing could identify ovarian cancer patients who are most likely to benefit from treatment with bevacizumab (Avastin), a Mayo Clinic-led study has found. Results of the research were presented today at the 2014 American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting. The addition of bevacizumab to standard therapy extended progression-free survival more for ovarian cancer patients with molecular subtypes labeled as “proliferative” or “mesenchymal” compared to those with subtypes labeled as “immunoreactive” or “differentiated,” says Sean Dowdy, M.D., a Mayo Clinic gynecologic oncologist and senior author of the study. Via Science Codex

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Apple, Mayo Partner on iOS Health Monitor

When Apple on Monday revealed plans to turn its iOS devices into health-information dashboards, it dropped a big health-industry name: Mayo Clinic. The Rochester, Minn.-based medical system will be among the first to tap into health-related features that are a part of Apple’s upcoming iOS 8 operating system for the iPhone and iPad…For Mayo’s patients, the Apple technology has major implications, said John Wald, the clinic’s medical director for public affairs. With access to more and better information about patients at their fingertips, doctors might be able to shorten or eliminate costly hospitalizations. Via Pioneer Press

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New Mayo Clinic Trial to Explore Use of Avatar Mice to Guide Ovarian Cancer Treatment 

Patient-derived xenografts (PDX), also called mouse avatars, have proven themselves to be accurate proxies for ovarian tumors in human patients and are aiding in the development of response predictors for therapies, according to presentations at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology this week. Avatars are also poised to guide treatment selection for patients directly in a newly funded Mayo clinic trial, said Paul Haluska, who chaired the educational session highlighting the potential of PDX mice in advancing personalized treatments for ovarian and other gynecologic cancers. Via GenomeWeb

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