KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Cancer, Genetic Screenings Under Scrutiny

Various news outlets covered issues around cancer screening, diagnosis and treatment.

Reuters/The Fiscal Times: Cancer Screenings Stoke The Overdiagnosis Debate
Screening for rare but deadly esophageal cancer is typically a laborious and costly procedure, requiring sedation and a day off from work. The new technology [Dr. Jonathan] Aviv uses makes it a cinch. That's why the few minutes he spent on Henry's screening threatens to open a new front in the fight over the costs and benefits of looking for disease in patients who aren't sick (Joelving, 4/22).

MedPage Today: Lung Cancer Screening Wins More Support
Consensus is starting to build that long-time smokers should have annual CT-based screenings to reduce lung cancer mortality, a researcher said here. A series of studies suggesting a mortality reduction in high-risk current and former smokers who underwent screening -- capped by last year's report from the National Lung Screening Trial (NLST) -- has built a case in favor of screening, which is still officially discouraged in primary care, said James Jett, MD, of National Jewish Medical Center in Denver, at the annual meeting of the American College of Physicians (Gever, 4/20). 

USA Today: Genetic Testing And Disease: Would You Want To Know
Gone would be the days of waiting to develop a disease. People would know about diseases they are at risk for and could change their living habits or consider treatments. Opponents warn about the potential for invasion of privacy — threatening employment and insurance — and the possibility that people equipped with the knowledge of their genetic makeup might make risky and unhealthy decisions (Lloyd, 4/22).

The Wall Street Journal: Lab Mistakes Hobble Cancer Studies But Scientists Slow to Take Remedies
Cancer experts seeking to solve the problem have found that a fifth to a third or more of cancer cell lines tested were mistakenly identified—with researchers unwittingly studying the wrong cancers, slowing progress toward new treatments and wasting precious time and money. ... It is a problem hiding in plain sight. Warnings to properly test cancer cell lines have sounded since the 1960s (Marcus, 4/20).

Roll Call: Health Care: From Lab To The Patient
Sometime this summer, researchers funded by a new center at the National Institutes of Health will begin trying to construct a new tool to test whether drugs are likely to be safe in humans. If successful, the technique could significantly shorten the time it takes for drug developers to figure out whether a product can pass the first test facing a proposed therapy — whether it will end up hurting the patients that it’s intended to help (Adams, 4/23).


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