This morning I caught glimpse of a young woman preparing for the weekly swim class she teaches to young children. She proudly reported to the mainly older, arthritic women in the locker room that she’d made the costume herself. ML is not nearly so talented as this dedicated aqua-instructor.
Teaching children to swim falls, perhaps, in the domain of public health education, and thereby qualifies as a suitable ML topic. So here she is!
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Why am I blogging about this drug, a pill, that works imperfectly in perhaps most of 5% of non-small-cell lung cancer patients and, maybe, in some other rare tumors? Because this is the future of oncology and, ultimately I think, will provide cost-effective medicine that’s based in evidence and science. The key is that the investigators tried the experimental drug in lung cancer patients with a specific genetic profile, one that predicts a response to this agent… How drugs like crizotinib could save money: 1. This drug is a pill; slash the costs of IVs, pumps, bags of saline, nurses to administer…2. Don’t give it to patients without a relevant genetic mutation; 3. Monitor patients for resistance and stop giving drugs when they no longer help the individuals for whom their prescribed.
See more Crizotinib, An Experimental Drug for Some Lung Cancers and Other Tumors With Alk Mutations
The Santiago Times reports that the rescued Chilean miners donned suits and pink ribbons, the latter in honor of breast cancer awareness month, at a ceremony at the the presidential palace, la Moneda.
Sure, the pink scene’s getting to be a bit much around here. But I don’t belittle this gesture; the miners’ intentions are surely well-meaning, and in places like northern Chile where they lived and worked, BC doesn’t get the overblown attention it does here, at least not yet. Not even close.
So kudos to the miners, from this one blogger in NYC.
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The cover of the November print edition of Wired features large, unnatural-appearing cleavage. Inside and toward the back of the issue, a curious article ties together stem cells and the future of breast reconstruction. It got my attention.
Wired, November 2010 issue
The detailed and admittedly interesting piece, by Sharon Begley, describes what’s science or science fiction: first humans, such as some plastic surgeons, remove adipose tissue, a.k.a. fat, by a well-established cosmetic surgery procedure called liposuction, from a body part where there’s a fat surplus — such as the belly or backside; next, laboratory workers purify and grow what are said to be stem cells from that that fat; finally, they use a nifty, calibrated and expensive device to inject those fatty stem cells where women want, such as in a hole or dimpled breast where a tumor’s been removed.
The story starts, unfortunately and distractingly, with a
See more Stem Cells, Breast Reconstruction and a Magazine Cover
Dr. John Snow, an anesthesiologist and founder of public health, recognized the mode of cholera’s spread more than 150 years ago in London, where he became famous for mandating the closure of the Broad Street Pump. Snow died at the age of 45, of what was said to be apoplexy, old jargon for a stroke. In 2009, there were 221,226 cholera cases reported and 4,946 cholera deaths in 45 countries, according to the CDC. Based on information put together by the World Health Organization,
See more Notes on Cholera, Old and New
Recently ML earned an HON (Health on the Net Foundation) seal, or “widget” in blog parlance. You may be wondering, what’s that about? There’s some interesting Web history, at least for med-blog types:
The foundation emerged in September, 1995, when 60 early health IT leaders convened in Geneva, Switzerland for a conference, “The Use of the Internet and World-Wide Web for Telematics in Healthcare.” The pioneering group was concerned about the ever-growing numbers of citizens surfing the Internet for health-related information. Participants included U.S. heart surgeon Dr Michael DeBakey and representatives from health and technology agencies including the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Telecommunication Union, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics (CERN), the European Commission and the National Library of Medicine.
Ultimately an HON Council identified and developed eight principles for medical website integrity. The goal was to establish a way by which casual Web-users could assess a site’s
See more Medical Lessons Gets a Health-on-the-Net Seal
This week the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published results of a large study with significant implications for women who consider taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT). The new findings are based on careful examination over 16,000 individuals, part of the larger Women’s Health Initiative, who were randomly assigned to take either a placebo, or Prempro – a combination pill that includes estrogen, extracted from equine (horse) urine, and medroxyprogesterone acetate, a synthetic progesterone compound.
The extended data confirm that women who take hormone replacement therapy are more likely to develop breast cancer than those who don’t take it. But this finding has been seen previously, and was one of the reasons why the randomization was halted earlier on –
What’s new is that the breast cancers in women who took hormone replacement therapy are more invasive, with greater extension to the lymph nodes, and more deadly. Women ages
See more New Findings on Postmenopausal Hormone Replacement Therapy and Breast Cancer
A student clued me in on an old take on therapeutic phlebotomy: the classic 1978 SNL skit, Theodoric of York (Season 3, episode 18), stars Steve Martin (as the barber, Theodoric of York.). It also features Dan Aykroyd (as William), Gilda Radner (as Broom Gilda), Jane Curtin (as Joan), John Belushi (as a hunchback) and a youthful Bill Murray (as a drunkard).
Theodoric of York
It’s a very funny skit when it’s not too gory, with some insight into the history of medicine.
But it’s also a sad reminder about the early deaths of Belushi, a promising actor who died at 33 years from heroin and cocaine toxicity, and of Radner, a wonderful comedian who died at 42 years from ovarian cancer.
As for modern, therapeutic phlebotomy -
In the U.S. and most other places, trained physicians, nurses and other providers perform this procedure routinely using sterile techniques and
See more Classic Saturday Night Live on Bloodletting, and Barbarism
This week it seemed at least half the world was captivated by the uplifting story of the Chilean miners. The 33 men — mainly middle-aged and of modest means — zoomed up in high-tech capsules from the deep, would-be tomb where they’d been waiting for 69 days underground in the southern Atacama, not far from the industrial, northern Chilean city of Copiapó. The amazing and nearly-too-good-to-be true news is that a top-notch team of engineers, doctors including the NASA/Johnson Space Center Deputy
See more Copiapó Dreaming – The Copper Miners’ Tale