Week in Review: April 10

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


Study Finds Breast Cancer Overtreatment Costs U.S. $4B Per Year 

Sharpening a medical debate about the costs and benefits of cancer screening, a new report estimates that the U.S. spends $4 billion a year on unnecessary medical costs due to mammograms that generate false alarms, and on treatment of certain breast tumors unlikely to cause problems. The study published in the journal Health Affairs breaks the cost down as follows: $2.8 billion resulting from false-positive mammograms and another $1.2 billion attributed to breast cancer overdiagnosis. Via FOX News.

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Which Weight-Loss Diet Works Best? A New Study Ranks the Evidence 

With so many ways to lose weight, you’d think it would be easy to tell which diet program works best — Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig, Nutri System or Slim Fast. To make sense of the noise, Kimberly Gudzune, an assistant professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University, and her colleagues searched the scientific literature for studies on 11 commercial weight-loss programs. In their results, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, they assessed which ones have the best data to support them. But they also found there weren’t that many studies actually tracking how much weight people on the programs lose. Via TIME. 

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HealthPartners Plans $140 Million Remake at Park Nicollet Methodist Hospital

Construction projects in health care keep coming, with plans announced for a $140 million expansion and renovation at Park Nicollet Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park. Methodist is the flagship medical center for the Park Nicollet system, which merged at the start of 2013 with Bloomington-based HealthPartners. Via Star Tribune.

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Doctors Test Tumor Paint In People

A promising technique for making brain tumors glow so they'll be easier for surgeons to remove is now being tested in cancer patients. Eighteen months ago, shots first told readers about tumor paint, an experimental substance derived from scorpion venom. Inject tumor paint into a patient's vein, and it will actually cross the blood-brain barrier and find its way to a brain tumor. Shine near-infrared light on a tumor coated with tumor paint, and the tumor will glow. Via NPR.

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Shorter Stature May Pose Higher Risk of Heart Disease

After gathering genetic data from nearly 200,000 men and women worldwide, investigators found that each extra 2.5 inches of height brings a 13.5 percent reduction in heart disease risk. The relationship is present throughout the range of adult heights. A person who is five feet tall has a 30 percent greater chance of developing heart disease than someone who is 5 feet 6, said a lead author of the new study, Sir Nilesh Samani, a professor of cardiology at the University of Leicester in England. Via NY Times.

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Mayo Medical School to Establish Branch Campuses in Arizona, Florida

Mayo Medical School announced that it has received the endorsement of the national accrediting body for medical education to establish branch campuses in Scottsdale, Arizona, and Jacksonville, Florida. "This signifies an important step in our transformation to a national medical school and our ability to deliver extraordinary medical education and highly diverse clinical experiences to our students across all campuses," said Sherine Gabriel, the dean of Mayo Medical School and professor of Epidemiology and Medicine. Via KSTP.

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Researchers Develop Genetic Breast Cancer Screening Tool

Researchers led by doctors at the Mayo Clinic may have made it easier for women to assess any genetic anomalies they might have that could result in getting breast cancer. The scientists have found dozens of common genetic variants that are associated with the disease. The researchers combined 77 of common genetic variants into a single risk factor that can help identify women with an increased risk of breast cancer. This factor is known as a polygenic risk score and was compiled from the genetic data of more than 67,000 women. “This genetic risk factor adds valuable information to what we already know can affect a woman’s chances of developing breast cancer,” said Celine Vachon, an epidemiologist at Mayo Clinic and the study’s co-author. Via Consumer Affairs.

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Alzheimer’s Warning Signs

For people of a certain age, it’s not uncommon to seize on any forgetfulness as a symptom of Alzheimer’s disease. Lose the car keys, forget a name, read a Top 10 list of dementia’s warning signs and the worry begins. The Washington Post interviewed three experts to offer their perspective: Lipton, who heads the division of cognitive aging and dementia at Montefiore Medical Center; Ronald C. Petersen, director of the Mayo Clinic’s Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center; and Heather M. Snyder, director of medical and scientific operations at the nonprofit Alzheimer’s Association. Via Washington Post.

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Oncologists Examine Rising Costs of Cancer Drugs

The rising costs of cancer drugs are detrimental to patient care and must be addressed, according to the authors of a special article published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings. Hagop Kantarjian M.D., chair of the department of leukemia in the division of cancer medicine at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and S. Vincent Rajkumar M.D., professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center in Rochester, Minn., described the consequences of rising costs, disagreed with justifications for costly cancer treatments and offered solutions to control drug costs. Via HemOnc Today.

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Are Tampons the New Pap Smear?

So how soon will your tampon be able to diagnose cancer? Not so fast. First, researchers need to do more studies; a clinical trial is underway right now, says lead study author Jamie Bakkum-Gamez, M.D., a gynecological oncologist at the Mayo Clinic. Currently, there’s no routine way to screen for endometrial cancer (aside from reporting vague symptoms to your doctor, such as irregular bleeding), which strikes more than 50,000 women each year, most of them post-menopausal, and is the most common gynecological cancer in the U.S., according to the study. Via Women's Health Magazine.

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Kelley Schreiber

Kelley Schreiber is a Marketing Channel Manager at Mayo Medical Laboratories. She is the principle editor and writer of Insights and leads social media and direct marketing strategy. Kelley has worked at Mayo Clinic since 2013. Outside of work, you can find Kelley running, traveling, playing with her new kitten, and exploring new foods.