KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Pap Smear Screening, Once A Pillar Of Women’s Health Care, May Be On Its Way Out

Some say a simple HPV test could be sufficient.

Stat: The Pap Smear: Groundbreaking, Lifesaving — And Obsolete?
Pap tests are one of the most familiar — and successful — cancer screening tests ever invented. Since their introduction in the 1950s, cervical cancer deaths in the US have fallen by more than 60 percent. But now, a growing number of scientists say, the Pap may be past its prime. In its place, they are calling for a simple test, one that’s already routinely used as a second-line test around the world: screening for human papillomavirus (HPV). (Sheridan, 3/1)

In other news —

The Washington Post: Childhood Cancer Survivors Benefit From Reduced Radiation Treatment
The rate of second malignancies in survivors of childhood cancer is declining — an improvement linked to reduced radiation treatment of the first disease, according to a new study. The research, published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, focused on new cancers — not recurrences — that occurred within 15 years of the original ones. The rate for such cancers fell from 2.1 percent for survivors diagnosed in the 1970s to 1.3 percent for those diagnosed in the 1990s. (McGinley, 2/28)

New Hampshire Public Radio: Lawmakers Signal Support For Renewed Investigation Into Seacoast Cancer Cluster
A bill to create a commission to investigate a string of pediatric cancer cases on the Seacoast received unanimous support from the House Committee on Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs today. The bill also has the support of Governor Chris Sununu. The commission would take up the work of a now-defunct taskforce that was investigating the unusually high number of rare pediatric cancer cases on the Seacoast. (Moon, 2/28)

California Healthline: California Cancer Rates Dropped During The Recession. That’s Not Necessarily A Good Thing.
As the country plunged into recession between 2008 and 2012, something unexpected happened: An earlier small decline in the number of new cancer cases became a much bigger one. The authors of a study published last month by the Cancer Prevention Institute of California believe they have a plausible explanation for the trend: People who lost their incomes or health insurance during that time were less likely to get routine screenings or visit the doctor. (Wiener, 3/1)

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