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November 2006 Briefing - Oncology

Here are what the editors at HealthDay consider to be the most important developments in Oncology for November 2006. 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.

Mifepristone Prevents Breast Cancer in Animal Study

THURSDAY, Nov. 30 (HealthDay News) -- A progesterone antagonist such as mifepristone can prevent breast cancers in mice with a deletion of the BRCA1 breast cancer susceptibility gene, according to the results of a study published in the Dec. 1 issue of Science.

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Industry Ties Common But Many Patients Unconcerned

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 29 (HealthDay News) -- About one-third of institutional review board (IRB) members report having financial relationships with industry, but most patients in cancer research trials report being unconcerned about financial ties of researchers or institutions with industry, according to the results of two surveys published in the Nov. 30 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

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Cutting Smoking in Half Doesn't Impact Early Death

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 29 (HealthDay News) -- Reducing cigarette consumption by more than 50 percent does not significantly lower the risk for all-cause mortality, death due to cardiovascular disease or smoking-related cancer for men and women, according to a report in the December issue of Tobacco Control.

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Radiofrequency Ablation of Renal Tumors Can Fail

TUESDAY, Nov. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Radiofrequency ablation of renal tumors without resection can sometimes be ineffective and lead to tumor progression and the formation of renocolic fistulas, according to two cases reported in the November issue of Urology.

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FDA Issues Warning About Methadone

TUESDAY, Nov. 28 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued a public health advisory warning to health care professionals prescribing methadone hydrochloride (Dolophine). Death and life-threatening side effects, such as severe respiratory problems and cardiac arrhythmias, have occurred in patients prescribed the drug for new pain, or who are being switched from other narcotic pain relievers.

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Compound Specifically Inhibits Tumor Vasculature

TUESDAY, Nov. 28 (HealthDay News) -- The molecule endorepellin inhibits the growth of the vascular system of human skin and lung tumors in mice, opening up possibilities for a new type of cancer treatment, according to a report published in the Nov. 15 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

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Chemotherapy Causes Short-Term Brain Structure Change

TUESDAY, Nov. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Chemotherapy appears to cause short-term changes in brain structure, which could account for cognitive impairments such as memory loss and difficulties problem-solving that are often reported by cancer patients, according to a report published online Nov. 27 in Cancer.

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Stem Cell Transplant Poses Long-Term Second Cancer Risk

MONDAY, Nov. 27 (HealthDay News) -- While hematopoietic stem cell transplantation offers the chance of a cure for diseases such as leukemia and myelodysplastic syndrome, it also increases the 10-year risk of developing a second, solid cancer by 85 percent, according to a report published online Nov. 27 in Cancer.

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Premenopausal Breast Cancer Risk Lower with High BMI

MONDAY, Nov. 27 (HealthDay News) -- A relatively large body mass index, or BMI, in young adulthood seems to protect against premenopausal breast cancer, according to a report published in the Nov. 27 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

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Palifermin Eases Mouth, Throat Mucositis in Studies

MONDAY, Nov. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Palifermin can ease oral and throat mucositis and improve function in patients undergoing chemotherapy for autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplant or metastatic colorectal cancer compared with a placebo, according to two studies published in the Nov. 20 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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Low Folate Intake Not Seen As Breast Cancer Risk

MONDAY, Nov. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Women with a low dietary intake of folate do not have an increased risk of breast cancer compared to those with higher intakes, according to study findings published in the Nov. 15 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

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FDA Approves Generic Ondansetron for Injection

MONDAY, Nov. 27 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved two generic injected forms of the drug Zofran (ondansetron) to be used for the prevention of nausea and vomiting after chemotherapy or surgery.

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Pigmented Basal Cell Carcinomas Studied

FRIDAY, Nov. 24 (HealthDay News) -- For complete tumor resection, pigmented basal cell carcinomas (PBCC) require a smaller surgical margin than non-pigmented basal cell carcinomas (NPBCC), according to the results of a study published in the November issue of Dermatologic Surgery.

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Bacterial Enzyme Helps Deliver Cancer Drugs to Tumors

FRIDAY, Nov. 24 (HealthDay News) -- An enzyme found in the anaerobic bacterium Clostridium novyi-NT might help deliver liposome-coated cancer drugs specifically to tumors and enhance tumor shrinkage, according to a report in the Nov. 24 issue of Science.

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Half of Patients Have Morbidity After Brachytherapy

FRIDAY, Nov. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Although more than half of men who have prostate brachytherapy experience complications, 14 percent requiring invasive procedures, the number of invasive procedures has fallen over time, according to study findings published in the Nov. 20 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology. The findings suggest that experience with the technique has improved outcome.

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Colorectal Cancer Surgery Quality Indicators Studied

THURSDAY, Nov. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Newly identified process-based quality indicators may improve care for patients undergoing surgery for colorectal cancer, according to a report published in the Nov.15 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

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Combination Chemo Most Effective for Ovarian Cancer

THURSDAY, Nov. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Combination chemotherapy regimens, using both platinum-based drugs and taxanes, produce the best results in the treatment of ovarian cancer, according to a report published in the Nov. 15 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

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Childhood Leukemia, Brain Tumor Survivors Risk Stroke

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 22 (HealthDay News) -- Long-term childhood leukemia or brain tumor survivors have a sixfold to 29-fold higher risk of stroke later in life than their cancer-free siblings, researchers report in the Nov. 20 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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Tumors Not Usually Found in Mastectomy Scars

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 22 (HealthDay News) -- The routine histologic examination of clinically unsuspected mastectomy scars does not help identify any new or metastatic tumors, researchers report in the November issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

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Sessile Serrated Polyps More Common in Women

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 22 (HealthDay News) -- Sessile serrated adenomas are found in 9 percent of colonoscopy patients, and they are more common in female patients and those with multiple polyps, researchers report in the November issue of Gastroenterology. The adenomas are more likely to be found in the proximal colon.

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Melanoma Thickness Unrelated to Time of Diagnosis

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 22 (HealthDay News) -- The thickness of melanoma is not correlated with the time to first diagnosis by a physician or to the time from diagnosis to invasive disease, according to a report in the November issue of the Archives of Dermatology.

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Breast Cancer Risk Linked to Lobular Involution

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 22 (HealthDay News) -- In women with benign breast disease, the extent of lobular involution, the normal process of regression of the milk glands, is related to the risk of developing breast cancer, according to a report published in the Nov. 15 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

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Risk of Colon Cancer Recurrence Higher in Obese Patients

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 22 (HealthDay News) -- Colon cancer patients with a body mass index, or BMI, of more than 35 kg/m2 have a significantly higher risk of recurrence and mortality compared with their normal weight counterparts, according to study findings reported in the Nov. 15 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

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Cancer Drug Causes Thin Hair, Depigmentation in Patient

TUESDAY, Nov. 21 (HealthDay News) -- A patient treated with oral doses of the chemotherapeutic tyrosine kinase inhibitor GW786034 unexpectedly developed depigmented and thin hair, according to a case report published in the November issue of the Archives of Dermatology. The authors speculate that topical receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitors may have a hidden potential as a treatment for unwanted body hair.

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Linking Ethnicity to Diseases May Create Disparities

TUESDAY, Nov. 21 (HealthDay News) -- Linking ethnic identity to illnesses such as Tay-Sachs disease and breast cancer may exaggerate differences between ethnic groups and create disparities in testing and therapy, according to research published in the November issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

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Marathon Runners May Have Higher Skin Cancer Risk

TUESDAY, Nov. 21 (HealthDay News) -- Marathon runners are at a higher risk of developing malignant melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer than the general population because of their longer exposure to the sun, researchers report in the November issue of the Archives of Dermatology.

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FDA Approves Wider Herceptin Use for Early Breast Cancer

MONDAY, Nov. 20 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved broader use of the biological drug Herceptin (trastuzumab) for early-stage breast cancer. Herceptin is now approved for use in combination with other chemotherapy drugs against HER2-positive breast cancer after lumpectomy or mastectomy in women with non-metastatic cancer.

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Families Often Don't Expect Death of Elderly Relative

MONDAY, Nov. 20 (HealthDay News) -- Families often don't recognize that death is near for an elderly relative, and black families are less likely than white families to expect a family member's death. Better communication between physicians and families could improve end-of-life care, researchers report in the November issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

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Switch to Anastrozole Helps Breast Cancer Survival

MONDAY, Nov. 20 (HealthDay News) -- Women with breast cancer who switch to anastrozole after two to three years of treatment with tamoxifen have improved event-free and overall survival, possibly avoiding side-effects and drug resistance associated with tamoxifen, according to a report published online Nov. 17 in The Lancet Oncology.

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AACR: Obesity Raises Prostate Cancer Death Risk

FRIDAY, Nov. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Among men who develop prostate cancer, those who are obese or overweight have a higher risk of dying from the disease, according to a study presented at the American Association for Cancer Research's Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research meeting, held in Boston.

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Few Primary Care Doctors Prescribe Preventive Tamoxifen

FRIDAY, Nov. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Although tamoxifen has been approved for use as a preventive measure against breast cancer, few primary care physicians are prescribing the drug, researchers report in the Nov. 13 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

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Study Finds Colonoscopy Still Underused in Veterans

FRIDAY, Nov. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Although colonoscopy usage has significantly increased over the past several years, fecal occult blood testing dominates colorectal cancer (CRC) testing in veterans, one study finds, while another questions the benefit of colorectal screening in younger patients with reduced life expectancy. Both studies are published in the Nov. 13 Archives of Internal Medicine.

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Chemotherapy Helps After Colon Cancer-Liver Resection

THURSDAY, Nov. 16 (HealthDay News) -- In patients with resected liver metastases from colorectal cancer, even a suboptimal regimen of chemotherapy may provide a significant disease-free survival benefit compared to surgery alone, according to a report in the Nov. 1 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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Midlife Self-Care Extends Men's Life Span into 80s, 90s

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 15 (HealthDay News) -- Middle-aged men who avoid common risk factors for chronic disease have a better chance of achieving an "exceptional" survival, defined as living to age 85 and beyond without physical or mental impairment, according to a study published in the Nov. 15 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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Prostate-Specific Antigen Test Overused in Elderly Men

TUESDAY, Nov. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Despite guidelines suggesting the test does elderly patients more harm than good, U.S. physicians routinely perform prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screenings on males over 70, according to a report in the Nov. 15 Journal of the American Medical Association. The findings were presented Nov. 14 at a special American Medical Association men's health news briefing in New York City.

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Six-Month Testosterone Therapy May Not Affect Prostate

TUESDAY, Nov. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Six months of testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) normalizes serum androgen levels in older men with late-onset hypogonadism while having little effect on prostate tissue, according to a report in the Nov. 15 Journal of the American Medical Association. The findings were announced Nov. 14 at a special American Medical Association men's health briefing in New York City.

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Adjuvant Radiotherapy May Fight Advanced Prostate Cancer

TUESDAY, Nov. 14 (HealthDay News) -- A 10-year randomized, prospective clinical trial may provide guidance on the use of adjuvant radiotherapy after radical prostatectomy in men with pathologically advanced prostate cancer. The study, published in the Nov. 15 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, found the treatment could reduce prostate-specific antigen relapse and disease recurrence, but not overall patient survival.

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Red Meat Associated with Higher Risk of Breast Cancer

TUESDAY, Nov. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Increased red meat intake is associated with a higher risk of hormone receptor-positive breast cancer in relatively young, premenopausal women, according to a report in the Nov. 13 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

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AACR: Pancreatic Cancer Linked to Gum Disease

TUESDAY, Nov. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Periodontal disease may raise the risk of developing pancreatic cancer, according to a study presented at the American Association for Cancer Research's Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research meeting, held in Boston.

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Efficacy of Ovarian Ablation and Chemotherapy Compared

FRIDAY, Nov. 10 (HealthDay News) -- In premenopausal women with hormone receptor-positive breast cancer, ovarian ablation has a similar effect to chemotherapy on disease-free and overall survival, researchers report in the Nov. 1 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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Google Useful to Help Doctors Diagnose Difficult Cases

FRIDAY, Nov. 10 (HealthDay News) -- The increasing availability of Internet access on hospital wards and in outpatient clinics is enabling more and more doctors to access the Web and use the search engine Google to help diagnose difficult cases, according to a study published online Nov. 10 in BMJ.

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Lifestyle History Affects Men's Cancer Survival

FRIDAY, Nov. 10 (HealthDay News) -- In men newly diagnosed with cancer, overall survival is significantly affected by a history of smoking, heavy alcohol consumption or insulin resistance, but not by a history of obesity, according to a study published in the Nov. 1 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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Hepatitis C, Alcoholism Linked to Liver Cancer in HIV Patients

FRIDAY, Nov. 10 (HealthDay News) -- Although HIV-positive veterans have higher rates of hepatocellular carcinoma than HIV-negative veterans, alcoholism and hepatitis C virus appear to account for the increased risk, not HIV status, according to a paper in the Nov. 1 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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Mutation Negatively Impacts Pancreatic Cancer Survival

THURSDAY, Nov. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Pancreatic cancer patients with a particular gene mutation at the histologically negative surgical margins of the tumor have significantly lower overall survival, according to study findings published in the November issue of Gut.

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Regular Exams, Mammography Needed After Breast Cancer

THURSDAY, Nov. 9 (HealthDay News) -- To prevent the risk of recurrence, breast cancer patients should have physical exams every three to six months for the first three years after treatment, then every six to 12 months for the fourth and fifth years, then annually, according to updated guidelines from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). The report is published in the Nov. 1 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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ASTRO: Extra Hormone Therapy Benefits Prostate Cancer

TUESDAY, Nov. 7 (HealthDay News) -- An additional 24 months of hormone treatment after radiation improves survival in men with aggressive prostate cancer, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology in Philadelphia.

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Colorectal Screening in Older, Sick Patients Reconsidered

TUESDAY, Nov. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Colorectal screening in older patients with multiple chronic conditions should be carefully considered because their life expectancy is substantially reduced, according to a report in the Nov. 7 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

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Lower Breast Cancer Survival Rates for Disabled Women

TUESDAY, Nov. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Women with disabilities have a higher mortality rate from breast cancer and are less likely to undergo standard therapy after breast-conserving surgery, according to the results of a study published in the Nov. 7 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

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Combination Therapy Effective Against Ovarian Cancer

FRIDAY, Nov. 3 (HealthDay News) -- In an animal model of ovarian cancer, a combination treatment including EA5, an antibody to a protein expressed by ovarian cancer cells, and paclitaxel can substantially decrease cancer growth compared to either treatment alone, researchers report in the Nov. 1 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

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Radiation Delay Does Not Affect Prostate Cancer Relapse

FRIDAY, Nov. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Delaying radiotherapy for prostate cancer more than 40 days after the initial consultation has no significant effect on biochemical relapse rates, according to study results published in the October issue of the American Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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Pelvic Radiation Doesn't Benefit All Prostate Cancer Patients

FRIDAY, Nov. 3 (HealthDay News) -- The addition of pelvic radiation to high-dose radiation to the prostate does not improve outcomes for prostate cancer patients with a greater than 15 percent risk of positive pelvic lymph nodes, according to study findings published in the October issue of the American Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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Radiation Therapy Affects Childhood Cancer Survivors

THURSDAY, Nov. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Childhood cancer survivors who were treated with radiation may face an increased risk of brain and spinal column tumors, according to a report in the Nov. 1 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

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Stop-Smoking Program Effective in Psychotic Patients

THURSDAY, Nov. 2 (HealthDay News) -- A stop-smoking program is effective for smoking cessation and smoking reduction in individuals with a psychotic disorder, according to the results of a study published in the November issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry.

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Marginal Benefit from Aromatase Inhibitor After Tamoxifen

THURSDAY, Nov. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Adding an aromatase inhibitor after five years of tamoxifen therapy has only marginal benefit for most breast cancer survivors, according to estimates from a report published online Oct. 23 in Cancer.

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Men Have More Advanced Colorectal Cancer at Diagnosis

THURSDAY, Nov. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Male patients undergoing colonoscopy tend to have more advanced colorectal cancer at diagnosis than female patients, according to a report in the Nov. 2 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. The findings suggest that gender should be taken into account along with age and family history when making screening recommendations.

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Epirubicin Enhances Therapy for Early Breast Cancer

THURSDAY, Nov. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Epirubicin in addition to cyclophosphamide, methotrexate and fluorouracil (CMF) is a better adjuvant therapy for early breast cancer than just CMF alone, according to a report in the Nov. 2 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

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NEJM Retracts Two Oral Cancer Studies

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 1 (HealthDay News) -- The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) has retracted two studies on oral cancer because the supporting data is believed to be fabricated, according to an editorial in the Nov. 2 issue of the journal.

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Commercial HMOs Embrace Pay-for-Performance Programs

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Pay-for-performance programs are now used by a majority of commercial health maintenance organizations, according to a special report published in the Nov. 2 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

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PSA Velocity Predicts Prostate Cancer Outcomes

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) velocity, the rate at which PSA increases or decreases, predicts survival in men who later develop prostate cancer, according to a study published in the Nov. 1 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

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Women Negative for Breast Cancer Mutation Still at Risk

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Female relatives of women with mutations in BRCA1 or BRCA2 still have a threefold increased risk of developing breast or ovarian cancer even if they lack mutations in either gene, according to a report published online Oct. 31 in the Journal of Medical Genetics.

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Resveratrol Improves Health, Survival of Obese Mice

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Resveratrol, a compound found in wine, fruit and nuts, significantly improves the health and survival of obese middle-aged mice fed a high-calorie diet, according to the results of a study published online Nov. 1 in Nature.

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Blacks Have Poorer Prognosis After Breast Cancer Therapy

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Black women with breast cancer have a poorer prognosis after treatment with mastectomy and doxorubicin-based chemotherapy than other women, according to a report to be published in the Dec. 1 issue of Cancer. In addition to socioeconomic status, tumor biology may play a significant role in the disparity.

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