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March 2009 Briefing - Oncology

Here are what the editors at HealthDay consider to be the most important developments in Oncology for March 2009. This roundup includes the latest research news from journal articles, as well as the FDA approvals and regulatory changes that are the most likely to affect clinical practice.

Safe Practice Scores Do Not Add Up to Fewer Patient Deaths

TUESDAY, March 31 (HealthDay News) -- In hospitals, higher self-reported scores for improvements in safe practices do not correlate with reduced mortality rates, researchers report in the April 1 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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Lower Cancer Risk Seen in Multiple Sclerosis Patients

TUESDAY, March 31 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with multiple sclerosis have an overall lower cancer risk, which does not appear to be due to heredity, according to the results of a study published in the March 31 issue of Neurology.

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Study Urges More Clinical Research on Gynecologic Testing

TUESDAY, March 31 (HealthDay News) -- While professional guidelines call for human papillomavirus (HPV) testing in the follow-up of treatment for cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN), there is insufficient clinical research to guide the clinician in the selection of the test to use, according to a report in the April issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

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Cancer Patients Often Not Involved in Treatment Decisions

FRIDAY, March 27 (HealthDay News) -- In patients with incurable cancer, fewer than half are involved in the decision-making process concerning the limitation of life-prolonging treatment, according to a study published online ahead of print March 23 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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Low-Income Men May Not Grasp Prostate Cancer Terms

FRIDAY, March 27 (HealthDay News) -- Low literacy levels among medically underserved men highlight the need to consider literacy and use non-medical language for prostate cancer education efforts and outcomes measures, according to a study published online ahead of print March 23 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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Drinking Very Hot Tea May Raise Esophageal Cancer Risk

FRIDAY, March 27 (HealthDay News) -- Drinking tea before it has cooled down slightly is associated with an increased risk of esophageal cancer, according to study findings published online March 26 in BMJ.

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Aspirin May Protect Against Cancer

FRIDAY, March 27 (HealthDay News) -- People who take aspirin for vascular protection have less incidence of cancer, but only after 10 years of taking the drug, indicating that it may have a protective effect against cancer, according to a review published online March 27 in The Lancet.

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Omega-3s Linked to Prostate Cancer Protection

FRIDAY, March 27 (HealthDay News) -- Higher intakes of long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids were associated with a lower risk of aggressive prostate cancer, which appeared to be modified by a COX-2 single nucleotide polymorphism, according to research published online March 24 in Clinical Cancer Research.

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Tumor Suppressor Genes Linked to Bladder Cancer

THURSDAY, March 26 (HealthDay News) -- Inhibition of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling may offer a potential treatment for invasive bladder cancer, according to research published in the March 15 issue of Genes & Development.

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Repair Defects Linked to Risk of Familial Colorectal Cancer

THURSDAY, March 26 (HealthDay News) -- The risk of colorectal cancer in first-degree relatives of colorectal cancer patients increases if the tumors are defective in repairing their DNA and if patients developed disease early, but most of the excess risk cannot be accounted for by defects in known genes, according to research published online March 23 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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Hundred Steps Per Minute May Be Good Fitness Goal

THURSDAY, March 26 (HealthDay News) -- Taking 3,000 steps in 30 minutes on most days of the week might be a good pace for people to follow to protect their health, according to research published online March 17 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

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Cost Barriers Slow Adoption of Electronic Health Records

WEDNESDAY, March 25 (HealthDay News) -- Citing cost barriers, relatively few U.S. hospitals have adopted electronic health records, posing a major obstacle for policy makers who say health information technology is critical to the improvement of health care quality and cost-effectiveness, according to an article published online March 25 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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Childhood Soy Intake May Help Prevent Breast Cancer

WEDNESDAY, March 25 (HealthDay News) -- In Asian American women, high soy intake during childhood is associated with a significantly decreased breast cancer risk in adulthood, according to the results of a study published online March 24 in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

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Men's Follow-Up Attendance Influenced by Trust in Doctor

WEDNESDAY, March 25 (HealthDay News) -- Men with testicular cancer are less likely to attend follow-up visits and adhere to medical advice if they feel that they do not have a satisfactory relationship with their doctor, according to study findings published online March 23 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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Active Surveillance Safe for Some Prostate Cancer Patients

WEDNESDAY, March 25 (HealthDay News) -- Active surveillance of certain prostate cancer patients is a safe and effective strategy for prevention of systemic progression of the disease, according to a study published in the April issue of the Journal of Urology.

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British Chemical Warfare Experiments Had Limited Impact

WEDNESDAY, March 25 (HealthDay News) -- Among British military veterans who were exposed to chemical warfare agents during 1941-1989 experiments at the Porton Down research facility, mortality and cancer morbidity rates are not significantly different from those of other veterans, according to two studies published online March 24 in BMJ.

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C-Reactive Protein Levels Associated With Cancer Risk

WEDNESDAY, March 25 (HealthDay News) -- Elevated levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) are associated with increased risk of cancer and earlier death after cancer diagnosis, according to a report published online March 16 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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Americans Fear Chronic Disease Above All Else

WEDNESDAY, March 25 (HealthDay News) -- Although Americans fear chronic disease above debt, divorce or unemployment, their lifestyle choices put them at risk for diseases such as diabetes, according to a report released March 24 by the American Diabetes Association.

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Ovarian Cancer Screenings Show Low Positivity Rate

TUESDAY, March 24 (HealthDay News) -- In older women, regular screening for ovarian cancer has a low positivity rate, suggesting that existing technology is not beneficial in the detection of early cancer, according to research published in the April issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

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High Meat Consumption Linked to Higher Death Risk

TUESDAY, March 24 (HealthDay News) -- People who consume large amounts of red and processed meats have a higher risk of death, particularly from cancer and cardiovascular disease, according to a study in the March 23 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

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Reirradiation May Extend Life in Head and Neck Cancers

MONDAY, March 23 (HealthDay News) -- For some patients, reirradiation of recurrent head and neck cancer can extend life. But for those with comorbidities or organ dysfunction, such as feeding tube dependence, it is likely to offer only palliative support, according to a report in the March 16 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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Socioeconomic Status Impacts Cancer Mortality Rates

MONDAY, March 23 (HealthDay News) -- Despite Sweden's nationwide health care, people with higher socioeconomic status have lower mortality rates for two common hematologic cancers than those with lower socioeconomic status, according to a report in the March 16 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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Metastases in Breast Cancer Patients Should Be Tested

MONDAY, March 23 (HealthDay News) -- Treatment for breast cancer patients with metastatic disease is often changed when tests reveal discordance between the receptor status of primary and metastatic tumors, according to an article published online March 18 in the Annals of Oncology.

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Continuing to Smoke Worsens Pain in Lung Cancer

MONDAY, March 23 (HealthDay News) -- Lung cancer patients who continue to smoke even after their diagnosis are more likely to experience moderate to severe pain, researchers report in the March issue of the Journal of Pain.

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Lifestyle Affects Survival in Head and Neck Cancers

FRIDAY, March 20 (HealthDay News) -- Lifestyle factors, particularly smoking, can have a negative impact on survival for patients with head and neck cancers, according to a report in the March 16 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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TESTIN May Have Role in Head and Neck Cancer Survival

FRIDAY, March 20 (HealthDay News) -- Inactivation of the TESTIN gene may play a role in the survival odds of patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma, researchers report in the March issue of the Archives of Otolaryngology - Head & Neck Surgery.

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Google Searches May Lead to False Medical Information

FRIDAY, March 20 (HealthDay News) -- Google keyword searches may generate sponsored links to Web pages that contain misleading medical claims, according to a Views & Reviews article published online March 18 in BMJ.

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Lymphedema Burden High After Breast Cancer

THURSDAY, March 19 (HealthDay News) -- Within two years after breast cancer treatment, a significant number of patients develop lymphedema, resulting in a greater risk of complications and increased treatment costs, according to a study published online March 16 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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Imatinib Improves Survival After Gastrointestinal Tumor

THURSDAY, March 19 (HealthDay News) -- A phase III trial of imatinib mesylate adjuvant therapy has shown that the drug is safe and increases the odds of recurrence-free survival after primary gastrointestinal stromal tumor resection, according to study findings published online March 19 in The Lancet.

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Over-Diagnosis Risk From Prostate Cancer Screening

WEDNESDAY, March 18 (HealthDay News) -- Screening for prostate cancer does not reduce the mortality rate after seven to 10 years' follow-up, according to study results released online March 18 in advance of publication in the March 26 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, while a second study in the same issue concludes that prostate-specific antigen-based screening does reduce mortality but runs the risk of over-diagnosis.

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Religious More Likely to Use Life-Prolonging Care

TUESDAY, March 17 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with advanced cancer who rely more strongly on religion to cope with illness are more likely to receive mechanical ventilation and intensive life-prolonging care at the end of life, according to a study in the March 18 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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Obesity Boosts Postoperative Pancreatic Cancer Risks

TUESDAY, March 17 (HealthDay News) -- Obese pancreatic cancer patients who undergo surgery have higher cancer recurrence and metastasis rates and a greater risk of death than non-obese patients, according to research published in the March issue of the Archives of Surgery.

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Information Could Help Ease Distress in Cancer Patients

MONDAY, March 16 (HealthDay News) -- A structured system of providing information to cancer patients showed some signs of reducing their psychological distress, according to research published online March 9 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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Studies Support Menopausal Breast Cancer Risk Screening

MONDAY, March 16 (HealthDay News) -- Evidence supports screening postmenopausal women for risk of breast cancer and the consideration of chemoprevention for women at high risk, as well as the use of lifestyle changes for cancer prevention, according to research published in the March 18 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

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Simplified Method Has Value for Prognosis in Thyroid Cancer

MONDAY, March 16 (HealthDay News) -- A quantified alternative to the TNM system -- a cancer-staging system using tumor size, node involvement and presence of metastases -- provides a simple method of predicting recurrence and cancer-specific mortality, with no loss of discrimination compared to other systems, for differentiated thyroid carcinoma, according to research published online March 9 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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One in Five U.S. Adults Continues to Smoke

MONDAY, March 16 (HealthDay News) -- Although smoking prevalence is declining nationwide, about one in five U.S. adults still smokes, and only one state has reduced smoking prevalence to the 12 percent or less goal established by Healthy People 2010, according to a report published in the March 13 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

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BRCA+ Women Receptive to Prophylactic Mastectomy

FRIDAY, Mar. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Women who test positive for the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation and are at high risk for breast cancer are more receptive to prophylactic mastectomy to reduce risk than women who test negative, according to research published in the Apr. 15 issue of Cancer.

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Little Counseling for Males Carrying Cancer Mutation

FRIDAY, Mar. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Many male carriers of BRCA1/2 mutations do not seek genetic counseling, even though the mutations predispose them to breast and other cancers, according to a review in the February issue of the Journal of Genetic Counseling.

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Damaged Repair Genes Increase Hodgkin's Disease Risk

FRIDAY, Mar. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) in DNA repair genes appear to increase the risk of developing Hodgkin's disease, especially when the SNPs occur in more than one of the repair gene types, according to research published in the Apr. 15 issue of Cancer.

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Probable Carcinogen Found in Many Children's Bath Products

FRIDAY, Mar. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Many children's bath products may contain formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane, both of which are probable carcinogens, according to a report released Mar. 12 by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a coalition of organizations that calls for the removal of certain chemicals from personal care products.

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Ovarian Screening Tests Can Be Sensitive and Accurate

THURSDAY, Mar. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Ovarian screening tests comprising transvaginal ultrasound and a CA125 blood test have a high degree of sensitivity and specificity, while transvaginal ultrasound alone is also highly sensitive but lacks the specificity of the combined screening test, according to an article published online Mar. 11 in The Lancet Oncology.

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Many Factors Affect Lymph Node Biopsy in Melanoma

THURSDAY, Mar. 12 (HealthDay News) -- The use of sentinel lymph node biopsy for clinical stage I and II melanoma is associated with socioeconomic factors, according to research published online Mar. 9 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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Age Affects Optimal Treatment for Spinal Metastases

WEDNESDAY, Mar. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Although surgery for spinal metastases is generally superior to radiation, the treatment giving the best outcome is strongly affected by age, researchers report in the Mar. 1 issue of Spine.

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Folic Acid Supplements Linked to Prostate Cancer Risk

WEDNESDAY, Mar. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Folic acid supplementation may be associated with a higher risk of prostate cancer, and different definitions of "lead time" in studies on screening with prostate-specific antigen (PSA) can affect their outcome, according to two reports published online Mar. 10 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Abstract - Figueiredo
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Routine Screening of Excised Breast Tissue Can Backfire

WEDNESDAY, Mar. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Most plastic surgeons routinely send breast reduction tissue for routine histological testing, effectively screening women under the age of 50 for breast cancer without their consent, according to an article published online Mar. 10 in BMJ. Three related editorials discuss the surgical management problems, ethical dilemmas and implications for patients of such a practice.

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Editorial - Treasure
Editorial - Sugarman
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Smudge Cells Point to Survival in Patients with Leukemia

WEDNESDAY, Mar. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Smudge cells on blood smears from patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia can predict survival of the disease, according to research published online Mar. 2 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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Studies Investigate Health Care at End of Life

TUESDAY, Mar. 10 (HealthDay News) -- End-of-life health care may be associated with feelings of abandonment, and its associated costs are lower after physician-patient communication but higher among minorities, according to a series of studies published in the Mar. 9 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Abstract - Back
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Abstract - Ganzini
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Abstract - Zhang
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Brain Tumor Stem Cell-Like Cells Highly Tumorigenic

MONDAY, Mar. 9 (HealthDay News) -- A population of stem cell-like glioma cells characterized by the presence of a drug transporter are highly tumorigenic and resistant to drugs, and the standard glioma treatment increases this population, according to a report in the Mar. 6 issue of Cell Stem Cell.

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No Link Between Wine and Breast Cancer Risk

MONDAY, Mar. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Higher alcohol consumption, with the exception of red and white wine, is associated with a greater risk of breast cancer, researchers report in the March issue of Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention.

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Brain Tumor Combination Treatment Improves Survival

MONDAY, Mar. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Combined postoperative treatment of glioblastoma patients with radiation and temozolomide improves five-year survival over radiation alone, though most patients still eventually die of the disease, according to an article published online Mar. 9 in The Lancet Oncology.

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Patient Confidentiality Versus Disease Prevention Reviewed

MONDAY, Mar. 9 (HealthDay News) -- The morality of patient confidentiality laws are questioned in recent research presented in a special report in the March issue of The Lancet Oncology.

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Comprehensive Screenings in Healthy Can Find Cancers

FRIDAY, Mar. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Whole-body cancer screenings using a battery of modalities, including positron emission tomography (PET), have the ability to detect a range of early-stage cancers, according to research published online Mar. 2 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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Receptor in Osteosarcoma May Provide Treatment Approach

FRIDAY, Mar. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Interleukin-11 receptor alpha (IL-11Rα) appears to present a target for therapy of osteosarcoma, according to research published online Feb. 24 in Cancer Research.

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Radiation Reduces Rectal Cancer Recurrence

FRIDAY, Mar. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Preoperative radiation is more effective than postoperative radiation in reducing local recurrence in patients with rectal cancer, researchers report in the Mar. 7 issue of The Lancet.

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Distress Linked to Lower Activity in Cancer Survivors

FRIDAY, Mar. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Colorectal cancer survivors who show high levels of somatization, or physical symptoms of psychological distress, are less likely to be physically active, while patients who have a more positive view of their cancer are more likely to be physically active, according to the results of a study published online Mar. 2 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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Measures Assess Cancer Care Based on Patient Concerns

FRIDAY, Mar. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Three measures used to assess the quality of medical care at the time of cancer diagnosis and treatment are reliable and valid, and reflect the concerns of patients about a lack of communication about their diagnosis and treatment as well as their treatment experience, according to a report published online Mar. 2 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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Exercise in Later Life Reduces Mortality Risk

FRIDAY, Mar. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Men who increase their level of exercise later in life can bring their mortality risk into line with their counterparts who have constantly exercised, according to a report published online Mar. 5 in BMJ.

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Transdermal Patches Pose Burn Risk During Scans

FRIDAY, Mar. 6 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued a warning about the risk of burns as a result of wearing medicated patches, such as those used for smoking cessation or pain relief, during MRI scans.

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Patient Anxiety Linked to Timing of Prostate Treatment

THURSDAY, Mar. 5 (HealthDay News) -- Anxiety over the disease is a major predictor in older men's decision to begin androgen deprivation therapy early after biochemical recurrence of prostate cancer, according to research published online Mar. 2 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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Positive Outcomes for Cancer Patients in Poor Condition

THURSDAY, Mar. 5 (HealthDay News) -- Advanced colorectal cancer patients with poor performance status still derive benefit from chemotherapy, although with a higher risk of toxicity and death, according to study findings published online Mar. 2 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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Obama Wants to Spend $630 Billion on Health Care Reform

THURSDAY, Mar. 5 (HealthDay News) -- Achieving health care reform is one of President Barack Obama's major challenges, and his newly released spending plan calls on Congress to commit $630 billion over the next decade to finance that reform, according to an article published online Mar. 4 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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Metabolic Syndrome Linked to Distinct Liver Cancers

WEDNESDAY, Mar. 4 (HealthDay News) -- In patients with hepatocellular carcinoma whose only risk factor for liver disease is evidence of metabolic syndrome, the cancer typically occurs without significant fibrosis in the surrounding liver, according to research published in the March issue of Hepatology.

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Alcohol Linked to Modest Pancreatic Cancer Risk

WEDNESDAY, Mar. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Alcohol consumption is associated with a small increase in risk of pancreatic cancer, according to research published online Mar. 3 in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

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Classification Systems for Spinal Tumors Reliable

TUESDAY, Mar. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Two systems to stage and manage spinal tumors have moderate interobserver reliability and substantial intraobserver reliability, according to the results of a study published in the Feb. 15 issue of Spine.

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Vitamin K Doesn't Reduce Bleeding in Warfarin Patients

TUESDAY, Mar. 3 (HealthDay News) -- In patients receiving warfarin, vitamin K does not reduce bleeding, according to study findings published in the Mar. 3 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

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US Motor Vehicle-Related Death Rates Vary Geographically

MONDAY, Mar. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Although the mortality rate related to motor vehicles remained almost unchanged from 1999 to 2005 in the United States, on closer inspection the data reveals wide variations from state to state, as well as by gender and ethnicity, according to a report published in the Feb. 27 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

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Much Lung Cancer Disparity Appears to Be Due to Smoking

MONDAY, Mar. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Smoking appeared to explain much -- but not all -- of the inequality in lung cancer risk attributable to differences in education in a large sample of Europeans, according to research published in the Mar. 4 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

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Editorial

Study Examines Caffeine's Link to Less Skin Cancer

MONDAY, Mar. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Caffeine causes skin cells damaged by ultraviolet light to self-destruct by blocking a cellular pathway involved in regulating the cell cycle, which may explain why tea and coffee consumption is associated with lower rates of non-melanoma skin cancer, according to the results of a study published online Feb. 26 in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.

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Physician's Briefing