KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Longer Looks: Contagious Cancer; Talking About Death; Brain Hacking

Each week, KHN's Shefali Luthra finds interesting reads from around the Web.

The New York Times: Scientists Ponder The Prospect Of Contagious Cancer
For all its peculiar horror, cancer comes with a saving grace. If nothing else can stop a tumor’s mad evolution, the cancer ultimately dies with its host. Everything the malignant cells have learned about outwitting the patient’s defenses — and those of the oncologists — is erased. The next case of cancer, in another victim, must start anew. (George Johnson, 2/22)

The New York Times: What Luck Means Now
I arrived a little after 6 a.m., after kissing my husband goodbye before they wheeled him into surgery. The surgery is expected to take 12 hours, though somewhere around Hour 3 the surgeon will have gotten to the place in Jim’s abdomen where he can see the tumor, known to us only as an innocuous-looking gray area on Jim’s CT scans. Sometimes this turns out to be the moment when the surgeon discovers the tumor is not operable after all, in which case they stitch everything up and say, “We tried.” (Joyce Maynard, 2/21)

The Atlantic: When Parents And Surrogates Disagree On Abortion
When a woman agrees to become a gestational surrogate—meaning she’ll gestate an IVF-created embryo as it grows into a fetus—she and the commissioning parents will typically sign a legally binding contract. The terms vary widely from contract to contract and state to state, but the vast majority will include a clause allowing the parents to make decisions about abortion. (Katie O'Reilly, 2/18)

PBS NewsHour: State Governments Strive To Curb Epidemic Of Fatal Opioid Abuse
Abuse of opioids such as heroin, oxycontin and methadone led to 28,000 deaths last year, according to federal agencies. Many states are taking steps to combat the epidemic, but proposed solutions have attracted their own share of controversy and criticism. Judy Woodruff talks to Gov. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts for more on the fight against opioid abuse in his state. (2/23)

The Wall Street Journal: A Financier Turns To Boosting Medical Careers
Sitting around a small table recently at a Queens Library branch, two Pakistani doctors discussed an uncomfortable visit to a hospital. Library career-counselor Nancy Cafferty had persuaded the men to walk into Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, where one of the men, Sunny Kumar, had an interview, just to get a better sense of the place. But it wasn’t easy, because visiting without an invitation wasn’t something either man would have done in Pakistan. ... Ms. Cafferty is developing a small following among Pakistani doctors interviewing for residencies. Last winter, three doctors came to the library for interview preparation. Then the three doctors turned into eight. (Ramey, 2/19)

The Washington Post: Brain Hacking: The Mind's Biology
She relaxed in the recliner, her eyes closed, her hands resting lightly in her lap. The psychiatrist’s assistant made small talk while pushing the woman’s hair this way and that, dabbing her head with spots of paste before attaching the 19 electrodes to her scalp. As the test started, her anxiety ticked up. And that’s when it began: the sensation of being locked in a vise. First, she couldn’t move. Then she was shrinking, collapsing in on herself like some human black hole. (Amy Ellis Nutt, 2/19)

NPR: When A Loved One Dies Of Overdose, What Happens To The Family?
Cathy Fennelly tried to save her son from heroin addiction. For eight years, she tried to help him get sober. She told him he couldn't come home unless he was in treatment. It tormented her, knowing that he might be sleeping on the streets, cold at night. But nothing worked. In 2015, she found him dead from an overdose on her front step. (Kristin Gourlay, 2/18)

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