Week in Review: Oct. 2

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.


Industry News

FDA Advisers Call For More Safety Data On Sterilization Device

The Food and Drug Administration should gather more information to try to get a better sense of the safety of the Essure sterilization device, a panel of experts assembled by the agency recommended. "To be honest, we don't know what we don't know," said Dr. Cheryl B. Iglesia of the MedStar Washington Hospital Center, who chaired the FDA's Obstetrics and Gynecology Devices Panel, summarizing frustration expressed by several members. Via NPR.

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Gene Test Helps Some Breast-Cancer Patients Skip Chemo, Study Says

A gene test used to guide treatment for early-stage breast cancer proved effective in enabling certain women to safely forgo chemotherapy, in a study that illustrates how genomic information is reshaping cancer care. Researchers said the findings provide validation for the test, called Oncotype DX, which is already in use helping women decide whether chemotherapy should be part of their treatment. The test provides a score based on a tumor’s genetic signature that describes the risk that the cancer will recur. Via Wall Street Journal. 

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New Drugs Prove More Effective in Treatment of Kidney Cancer, Studies Find 

New studies of two drugs, showing that each works better than the standard treatment for advanced kidney cancer, should lead to changes in patient care, researchers said. One study, of the drug nivolumab (sold as Opdivo), was stopped ahead of schedule because safety monitors found that patients receiving the drug were living longer than those in a comparison group taking the usual treatment, everolimus (sold as Afinitor). The study was halted for ethical reasons, to offer the comparison group nivolumab. Via NY Times.

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Computer-Aided Mammography Might Not Help Spot Breast Cancer

Computer-aided detection, a part of almost all mammograms today, appears not to improve diagnostic accuracy for breast cancer screening, according to a large study. Computer-aided detection (CAD) marks areas of concern on mammogram readouts that radiologists might otherwise miss. It was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1998 and became common after the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services increased reimbursement for the technology in 2002. Via Reuters.

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A New Effort Has Doctors Turn Patients Into Donors  

A well-to-do cancer patient is nearing the end of her treatments. During an office visit, she says to her doctor, “I can’t thank you enough for the care you provided.” Should the doctor simply accept the patient’s gratitude — or gently suggest a way for her to show it: “Perhaps you might consider making a donation?” More and more these days, development offices at major cancer centers are teaching doctors to seize such opportunities to raise money for the medical center or for their own research. Via NY Times.

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Mayo Clinic News

FDA Panel Weighs Complaints on Essure Contraceptive Implant 

A panel of experts convened by the Food and Drug Administration excoriated the manufacturer of a contraceptive device for not collecting data that they say could have helped predict risks for women. The device has received thousands of complaints from women who say they were harmed by it. In a statement, the company said it believed the panel’s suggestions "support the continued safe and appropriate use of Essure." Several of the panelists questioned why it was so difficult for women to find a doctor who was trained in removing the device. Via NY Times.

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Flu Season Right Around The Corner

Health officials say the beginning of fall is a good time to get a flu shot, before the virus begins to ramp up. Dr. Stephen Campbell is with Mayo Clinic Health System in south-central Minnesota and says, “True influenza is probably one of the worst respiratory illnesses you’ll ever get. It’s characterized by high fever, sore throat, horrible body aches, horrible cough. People feel like they have been hit by a truck.  It can put you bed ridden for a week.” Via KDUZ Radio.

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Health Care Data Mining: OptumLabs Collaborative Begins to Offer Insight About What Works 

Diabetic patients are a popular target population for health systems that hope to improve patients' health with better care coordination and closer management. But new research from an insurer-owned, big-data analytics project suggests diabetes management can be too aggressive.  The findings are some of the first to come out of OptumLabs, a research collaborative owned by UnitedHealth Group's management and analytics subsidiary Optum, of which the Mayo Clinic is a founding partner. Now in its third year, OptumLabs has produced nearly two dozen studies and expanded its membership and ambitions. Via Modern Healthcare.

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The Price We Pay for Sitting Too Much

New research is helping medical experts devise formulas for how long a typical office worker should spend sitting and standing. Michael Jensen, a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., who specializes in obesity and diabetes, uses various ways to reduce daily sitting time that he also recommends to his patients. When he has meetings with just one or two people he finds a place where they can walk together instead of sitting. And he tells his patients who are parents to use their children’s athletic events as a time to be on their feet. “There’s no reason you have to sit and watch those games,” Dr. Jensen said. Via Medical Daily.

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Autoimmune Cerebellar Ataxia: Study Finds Treatment Promises for a Disease Previously Considered Hopeless 

Autoimmune cerebellar ataxia in adults, which usually comes on rapidly and progresses quickly, can be divided into disorders that are paraneoplastic (triggered by cancer in the body) or nonparaneoplastic (autoimmune disorders of the central nervous system unreleated to cancer). The disabling neurological effects, which can include speech, eye movement and balance, can cause unsteady walk and difficulties when swallowing. Little has been published regarding treatment responses and neurologic outcomes among patients with autoimmune cerebellar ataxia. However, at least 17 autoantibodies have been reported as causally linked to autoimmune cerebellar ataxia. Via Mayo Clinic News Network. 

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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.