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What your next gyno exam may not include
June 30th, 2014
05:54 PM ET

What your next gyno exam may not include

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.
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Study: Cancer ads tug at heartstrings, leave out caveats
May 26th, 2014
05:07 PM ET

Study: Cancer ads tug at heartstrings, leave out caveats

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
  – 61% used language about hope, extension of life, or a cure
  – 52% touted innovative, or advanced technology or treatments
  – 30% evoked fear by mentioned death, fear, or loss

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Doctors don’t talk to adolescents about sex
December 31st, 2013
08:48 AM ET

Doctors don’t talk to adolescents about sex

Thirty-six seconds is the average time a physician spends speaking with adolescent patients about sexuality, according to research published online Monday in JAMA Pediatrics.

About one-third of adolescent patient-doctor interactions result in no talk at all about sexuality - which includes things like sexual activity, dating and sexual orientation.

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Don't judge that generic pill by its color
December 31st, 2012
04:05 PM ET

Don't judge that generic pill by its color

It's not the color, but what's inside that counts when it comes to medication. However, doctors suspect that's not exactly how patients see it.

According to a study published Monday in the medical journal Archives of Internal Medicine, changes in pill color significantly increase the odds that a patient will fail to take their medication as prescribed by their doctor.

First, the basics

Generic drugs are approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s Office of Generic Drugs.  These off-brand alternatives must be “bioequivalent” to the brand-name version, meaning they must be identical in terms of dosage form, strength, route of administration, quality, intended use, and clinical efficacy. But the FDA does not require that the two versions look alike. FULL POST


Online access associated with uptick in doctor visits
November 20th, 2012
04:53 PM ET

Online access associated with uptick in doctor visits

Patient online access to doctors and medical records was associated with increased use of almost all in-person and telephone medical services, according to a study published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Those services included doctor appointments, telephone consults, after-hours clinic visits, emergency room visits and hospitalizations.

Dr. Ted Palen and his team looked at members of Kaiser Permanente Colorado, an integrated health system with more 500,000 members that includes an online patient portal known as MyHealthManager (MHM). FULL POST


Young patients, docs can miss signs of heart disease, attack
November 6th, 2012
12:59 PM ET

Young patients, docs can miss signs of heart disease, attack

When some people think about heart disease, they think primarily of older adults.  However, both doctors and young patients miss opportunities to recognize symptoms of heart problems and treat them proactively, according to research presented at the American Heart Association conference.

A study discussed Tuesday found a common risk factor for heart disease - high blood pressure, or hypertension - often goes undiagnosed in younger patients.

"This research directly addresses the public health burden in the U.S. as far as rising rates of hypertension among young adults, especially with the growing rate of obesity," said Dr. Heather Johnson, lead study author from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. FULL POST


Overheard: Waiting at the doctor's office
August 10th, 2012
02:21 PM ET

Overheard: Waiting at the doctor's office

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

CNN contributor Dr. Anthony Youn hit a nerve with his recent post, "Long wait at the doctor's office? Blame the patients." Youn describes three common scenarios in which patients can cause a doctor to run behind schedule: the patient being late themselves, medical emergencies and then what Youn calls, "Oh, by the ways..." in which a patient brings up a complex medical issue at the end of an appointment.

Many doctors and medical professionals weighed in, supporting Youn. They said doctors should take the time they need to provide proper care - even if it means pushing back a few appointments. A few added their own reasons why doctors can run late.
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Methadone tied to one-third of prescription painkiller deaths
July 3rd, 2012
02:44 PM ET

Methadone tied to one-third of prescription painkiller deaths

If you are not grappling with cancer-related pain, you probably should not be taking prescription methadone

That is the message spiraling out of startling statistics suggesting using methadone inappropriately is linked to one-third of prescription painkiller overdose deaths.

Methadone accounted for a mere 2% of prescriptions in 2009, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data that spans 10 years and 13 states, but was responsible for 30% of prescription painkiller deaths. 

"Methadone is riskier than other opiates for treating non-cancer pain," said Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC, who added that there is limited scientific evidence it works for chronic non-cancer pain. "It should only be used for pain when other drugs haven't been effective."
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Celebrities can be bad for your health
Jenny McCarthy is vocal critic of childhood vaccines, placing blame for her son’s autism on his vaccinations.
June 7th, 2012
03:57 PM ET

Celebrities can be bad for your health

Dr. Anthony Youn is a plastic surgeon in metro Detroit. He is the author of “In Stitches,” a humorous memoir about growing up Asian-American and becoming a doctor.

Two days ago, I saw a commercial for Jenny McCarthy’s show, “Love in the Wild.” I suspect that I’m not the only physician who’s happy to see her host this dating program.

It’s a better alternative than the role she’s held for the past several years: health care adviser.

For years, celebrities have acted as health advocates in the media. Most have limited themselves to pitching products. Wilford Brimley, a diabetic, acted as a spokesperson for Liberty Medical and their at-home diabetes treatments. Larry King has publicly endorsed Garlique, a garlic supplement that could help people with high cholesterol. More recently, soap star Lisa Rinna has endorsed Depends adult undergarments, even wearing them on the red carpet for charity.
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Task Force: Tell young patients to stay out of sun
May 7th, 2012
05:01 PM ET

Task Force: Tell young patients to stay out of sun

The group that sparked an outcry of criticism with its advice on mammograms and prostate cancer screening, said Monday that doctors should counsel young people to avoid sun exposure, to reduce the risk of skin cancer.

The advice applies to fair-haired people between the ages of 10 and 24, according to guidelines released Monday by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.  For adults older than 24, there is not enough evidence to say whether counseling about sun exposure makes a difference, according to the Task Force. The guidelines are published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

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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.

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