August 14th, 2014
10:12 AM ET
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved an at-home colon cancer test. Called Cologuard , it is the first stool-based screening test that detects certain DNA mutations and red blood cells that could be indications of colorectal cancer, according to the FDA. The test, which is ordered through a doctor's office, can be done at home.
"Unlike many other screening options, Cologuard does not require medication or dietary restrictions, or bowel preparation prior to taking the test," the manufacturer says.
The FDA says Cologuard could be used to help determine who is at risk of developing colorectal cancer at its earliest stages when the cancer is still asymptomatic. The agency approved the test this week.
June 30th, 2014
05:54 PM ET
For doctors, pelvic examinations are a routine way to screen for abnormalities. But for many women, the procedure is uncomfortable and embarrassing.
Thanks to a new clinical practice guideline by The American College of Physicians, your next annual check-up might be less... invasive.
After reviewing 52 studies, the physicians organization concluded that annual pelvic examinations - in non-pregnant, adult women who do not have symptoms - are unnecessary. In other words, pelvic screening exams have served their time.
June 24th, 2014
06:14 PM ET
Digital breast tomosynthesis, better known as 3-D mammography, can find more invasive, and in some cases more dangerous, cancers than a traditional digital mammogram, a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association this week concludes.
But do you need one?
Approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2011 as a supplement to digital mammography, tomosynthesis creates a 3-D reconstruction of the breast tissue, giving radiologists a clearer view of overlapping slices. This new study found using the combination of digital and 3-D mammography reduces false alarms and unnecessary call backs by 15% in all groups of patients, including younger women and women with dense breast tissue.
The study was funded by Hologic, the manufacturer of the 3-D imaging machine, and the National Cancer Institute.
June 17th, 2014
10:49 AM ET
If you’re spending a lot of time sitting every day, either in front of the TV or at work, you may be at higher risk for developing certain types of cancer, according to new research published this week in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
The study found an additional two hours a day of sedentary behavior was linked to an 8% increase in colon cancer risk, a 10% increase in endometrial cancer risk and a 6% increase in risk for lung cancer. It did not find the same connection for breast, rectum, ovary and prostate cancers or for non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Researchers came to these conclusions by analyzing 43 existing studies – that included more than 4 million study participants and 68,936 cancer cases – to measure the relationship between hours spent sitting and certain types of cancers.
June 10th, 2014
05:01 PM ET
Skin moles may indicate a woman's risk for breast cancer, according to two studies coming out this week in the journal PLOS Medicine. More moles could mean a slightly higher risk, particularly in middle-aged women, researchers say.
Scientists stress that this does not mean people with moles should panic. The studies do not say if you have moles you will get breast cancer; researchers are still trying to figure out the link between the two.
A study in the United States and another in France followed almost 175,000 middle age women for about 20 years. They looked at women with few or no moles and compared their breast cancer risk to women who had lots of moles – defined in one study as more than 15 on one arm. The studies did not look at cancerous moles but moles in general.
"Women with a lot of moles are a little more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer than were women with very few moles," said Dr. Ted Gansler, director of medical content for the American Cancer Society, who was not affiliated with the study.
May 26th, 2014
05:07 PM ET
Advertisements for cancer centers are inflated with emotions, but fail to disclose the fine print, according to a study released Monday. The report, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine and funded by the National Institute of Health, examined 409 unique TV and magazine advertisements from top media markets.
With more than 1.6 million new cancer cases diagnosed each year, the direct-to-consumer ads pushing to various cancer centers across the country, and specific cancer treatments, are increasing.
A systematic content analysis of these ads found that the content is sharply directed at a would-be patient’s heartstrings:
– 85% made emotional appeals to consumers
March 24th, 2014
04:02 PM ET
Medical marijuana might be the most effective complementary or alternative medicine to provide relief of symptoms caused by multiple sclerosis (MS) according to new guidelines from the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) released Monday.
Complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) are nontraditional therapies often used in addition to (and sometimes instead of) doctor recommended treatments.
The guidelines are based on recommendations made by a panel of nine physicians chosen by the AAN who are experts in the field of CAM. They identified and reviewed 291 studies and literature from the last 43 years. Of those, 115 made the cut; most were short, lasting between six and 15 weeks.
"This is the first-ever review, evidence-based recommendation, on the treatment of MS with CAM therapies," says Dr. Vijayshree Yadav, lead author and clinical director of Oregon Health and Science University's Multiple Sclerosis Center. "There were 29 different therapies included in the guidelines. Nineteen studies looked at cannabis." FULL POST
March 17th, 2014
12:01 AM ET
Colon cancer, which was once the most common cause of cancer death in America, has been on a steady decline for decades, according to a new study in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.
In 1985, there were an estimated 66.3 cases of colon cancer for every 100,000 adults in the United States. By 2010 that rate had fallen to 40.6 cases for every 100,000 adults. Deaths dropped during the same time period as well - from 28.5 to 15.5 deaths per 100,000 people.
"Incidence is declining primarily because of screening and finding polyps, which are precancerous lesions that can be removed," said Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society. "We find these precancerous lesions, remove them and 'voilà!' the patient doesn't get cancer."
March 10th, 2014
04:08 PM ET
You’ve seen it before: Parents using cell phones while their children vie for their attention. Now a new study suggests these behaviors can be seen often at mealtime - an important time for child-caregiver interactions.
In the new study, published Monday in Pediatrics, researchers not only observed these behaviors, but extensively recorded and described aspects of caregiver cell phone use.
Researchers observed 55 caregivers with young children at fast-food restaurants in the metropolitan Boston area. Out of the 55 observed, 40 caregivers (73%) used devices at some point during the meal. Nearly 30% used the device almost continuously throughout the meal, only briefly putting it down. FULL POST
March 7th, 2014
07:27 AM ET
Here's a roundup of five medical studies published this week that might give you new insights into your health. Remember, correlation is not causation – so if a study finds a connection between two things, it doesn't mean that one causes the other.
Don't diss canned vegetables
Researchers at Michigan State University analyzed more than 40 scientific journal studies to see if canned fruits and vegetables provide the same nutritional benefits as fresh and frozen produce. Cans are often cheaper than fresh or frozen products, and therefore easier for low-income families to buy.
About this blog
Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.