Week in Review: May 27


The Week in Review provides an overview of the past week’s top health care content, including industry news and trends, Mayo Clinic and Mayo Medical Laboratories news, and upcoming events.

Industry News

Just 5% of Terminally Ill Cancer Patients Fully Understand Prognosis, Study Finds

Just a fraction of terminally ill cancer patients fully understood their prognosis according to a new small study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. Patients were asked what stage cancer they had, their current health status, how long they expected to live, and if they had recently had a life-expectancy discussion with their doctor. Just 5 percent of the patients accurately answered all four questions about their disease and prognosis correctly. Additionally 23 percent of patients had a both recent and previous discussion about their life-expectancy with their doctor, according to the study. Via ABC News.

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 More Men With Early Prostate Cancer Are Choosing to Avoid Treatment

Seemingly overnight, treatment of men with early-stage prostate cancer has undergone a sea change. Five years ago, nearly all opted for surgery or radiation; now, nearly half are choosing no treatment at all. The approach is called active surveillance. It means their cancers are left alone but regularly monitored to be sure they are not growing. Just 10 percent to 15 percent of early-stage prostate cancer patients were being treated by active surveillance several years ago. Now, national data from three independent sources consistently finds that 40 percent to 50 percent of them are making that choice. Via NY Times. 

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How Much Sugar Are You Eating? You’ll Soon Know

In a major loss to the sugar industry, the Food and Drug Administration ordered food companies to disclose the amount of added sugar in all packaged foods. Until now, the agency required companies to list only the total amount of sugar in each product, with no distinction between naturally occurring sugars from fruit, for example, and sugar added in the form of high-fructose corn syrup or other flavorings. Via STAT.

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WHO's Stern Warning: The World 'Is Not Prepared To Cope' With Pandemics

The head of the World Health Organization, Margaret Chan, came out swinging at the opening ceremony of the 69th World Health Assembly in Geneva. The meeting of health officials from nearly 200 countries is usually a low-key, bureaucratic affair. Chan, however, opened the assembly by basically saying that the world is facing unprecedented global health challenges right now and is ill-equipped to deal with future threats. "For infectious diseases, you cannot trust the past when planning for the future," she warned. Chan said emerging diseases, climate change, new global transportation networks, and the failure of "more and more" antibiotics make the planet ripe for the next pandemic. Via NPR.

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Online Eye Exam Site Makes Waves in Eye Care Industry

What if you could use your phone and a computer to test your vision? A company is doing just that — and eye care professionals are upset. Some states have even banned it. A Chicago-based company called Opternative offers the test. The site asks some questions about your eyes and overall health, and also wants to know your shoe size to make sure you're the right distance from their computer monitor. You keep your smartphone in your hand and use the Web browser to answer questions about what you see on the computer screen. Via NPR.

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Mayo Clinic News

Scientists Are Closer Than Ever to Creating the Fountain of Youth

When people hear about efforts to expand health span, researchers say, they think it’s a vain pursuit — everybody dies. Isn’t it better to address tangible diseases like cancer? Not so, say the researchers. “What people need to realize is if we focus exclusively on diseases, [we’re] going to keep finding another one,” explains Dr. James Kirkland, a geroscientist at the Mayo Clinic. It’s like a Whac-a-Mole game: “Age-related chronic diseases cluster within individuals. If you get one, the next one is right around the corner.” Via New York Post.

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Meet Dr. Bobbi Pritt From the Mayo Clinic

Dr. Bobbi Pritt, a pathologist and clinical microbiologist, is the director of the Clinical Parasitology Laboratory in Mayo Clinic's Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology. There were 3 organisms in the world that caused Lyme disease, prior to her discovery of a 4th species in 2013. In February 2016, she published the findings of her research, in which she named this novel species of bacteria "Borellia Mayonii." Via WMDT-TV Maryland.

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Gluten-Free Diets Are Not Necessarily Healthier, Doctors Warn

Gluten-free foods are not necessarily healthier. In fact, they can be higher in calories, and may not be enriched with vitamins and minerals that are important for children, said study co-author Dr. Eyad Almallouhi, a pediatric gastroenterologist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. "Many people think that a gluten-free diet is healthier than the usual diet, which is not always true," said Almallouhi, who presented the findings at Digestive Disease Week, a scientific meeting focused on digestive diseases. Via Live Science.

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Gene Expression Signature Predicts Hormonal Resistance in Prostate Cancer

Using the Decipher Prostate Cancer Classifier assay to predict which patients might respond to hormonal therapy has resulted in the discovery and validation of an adjuvant androgen-deprivation therapy resistance signature (ARS), according to researchers at the Mayo Clinic. The ARS may predict men who are at high risk of failing hormone therapy. R. Jeffrey Karnes, M.D., a consultant at the Department of Urology at the Mayo Clinic, as well as a urologic oncologist, said the 2-arm study looked at the gene expression profiles of 1212 prostate cancer (PCa) patients who underwent radical prostatectomy (RP) collected from 3 studies of high risk PCa in collaborative research between Mayo Clinic and Johns Hopkins Medicine.“We wanted to assess whether analysis in the primary tumor after surgery of genes involved in neuroendocrine differentiation might predict who responds to adjuvant hormone therapy,” said lead author Karnes. Via DOTmed.

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New Immunotherapy Approved for Metastatic Bladder Cancer

Patients with metastatic bladder cancer have few treatment options after failure of chemotherapy until now. In early May, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the immunological drug Atezolizumab to treat metastatic bladder cancer. The decision came following results of an international, multisite phase II clinical study published in the March 4 edition of the Lancet. Mayo Clinic’s Florida campus was one of the largest sites involved in the study. Via Mayo Clinic News Network.

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Gina Chiri-Osmond

Gina Chiri-Osmond

Gina Chiri-Osmond is a Marketing Channel Manager at Mayo Clinic Laboratories.