Mammography page on FDA site updated

Did you know that mammograms are still the best tool for breast cancer screening? It’s true, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) certifies facilities that perform mammography —and clears and approves new mammography devices—to help keep you safe.

How Does the Test Work—and Is It Painful?

A mammogram is a low-dose X-ray picture of the breast. Getting a mammogram is the best way to find breast cancer early, because it can show breast lumps when they are too small for you or your health care provider to feel them.

Thermograms and nipple aspirate tests are not substitutes for mammograms. You should ask your health care provider when and how often you should schedule a mammogram, says Helen J. Barr, M.D., director of the Division of Mammography Quality Standards in FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH). ”Regular screening mammograms are important,” she adds.

To get a mammogram, you will need to take off your shirt and bra. While standing in front of the machine, a technologist will position your breast on a small platform. A clear plastic plate will press down on your breast while the mammogram is acquired.

If you’re worried about how the procedure feels, you should know that most women do not find it painful. Some women may find the pressure on the breast uncomfortable, but it lasts for only a few seconds. “Compression of the breast is important because it helps spread out the breast tissue so it doesn’t overlap, allowing better visualization,” explains Barr.

FDA regulations require that you (the patient) receive a summary of the mammography report within 30 days after your mammogram, and that reasonable attempts to communicate the results are made sooner if the results are suspicious or highly suggestive of malignancy. If you do not receive the mammography report summary, call your provider to get your results.

As a rule, you should also call your health care provider if you notice any change in either of your breasts. A lump, thickening or nipple leakage, or changes in how the nipple looks can signal a potential problem.

Why Is Facility Certification Important?

FDA, or an FDA-approved state certifying agency, certifies mammogram facilities in the United States under a law called the Mammography Quality Standards Act (MQSA). The Act’s purpose is to ensure that facilities and their staff are producing quality mammograms.

“Certification is important because it indicates that a facility has met the MQSA requirements for practicing quality mammography. And a high-quality mammogram can help detect breast cancer in its earliest, most treatable stages,” says Barr.

Each mammography facility is inspected every year. During the inspection, a trained evaluator checks the facility’s equipment, staff training, and staff qualifications. Each facility also undergoes an in-depth accreditation process every three years.

To legally perform mammography, facilities must be certified. “There is a certificate that shows that the facility has been certified,” notes Barr. “Consumers should look for that certificate, which should be prominently displayed.”

What Is the Difference Between 3D and 2D Mammograms?

In recent years, FDA has approved advanced mammography devices that perform 3D digital breast tomosynthesis, a technology that creates cross-sectional (3D) images of the breast from X-rays taken from multiple angles. These devices provide informative images of the breast tissue and are helpful in evaluating dense breast tissue. “Dense breast tissue can make cancers more difficult to find on a mammogram,” says Barr.

After conducting premarket reviews, FDA determined that there was a reasonable assurance that the new 3D devices were safe and effective for their intended use. New breast-imaging equipment must receive an FDA approval or clearance before being marketed, says Robert Ochs, Ph.D., chief of FDA’s Mammography, Ultrasound, and Imaging Software Branch at CDRH.

“FDA’s approval of 3D mammography devices was based on a review of clinical studies involving multiple radiologists and hundreds of cases,” says Ochs. “FDA also sought input on the safety and effectiveness of the devices from a panel of non-FDA clinical and technical experts.&rdquo

You can ask your doctor if 3D mammography or additional 3D imaging methods, such as ultrasound or MRI, are options for you. Ochs adds: “The results from multiple studies show that the combination of 3D and 2D imaging can improve breast cancer screening for all women.”

Where Is the Closest Certified Facility?

About 8,600 certified facilities are now in operation across the country. To find a mammography facility in your area, you can search the list on FDA’s website by your zip code. The list is updated weekly.

This article appears on FDA’s Consumer Updates page, which features the latest on all FDA-regulated products.

October 29, 2014

Posted in Cancer: Breast, Mammograms | Leave a comment

Radiation exposure linked to aggressive thyroid cancers

For the first time, researchers have found that exposure to radioactive iodine is associated with more aggressive forms of thyroid cancer, according to a careful study of nearly 12,000 people in Belarus who were exposed when they were children or adolescents to fallout from the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident.

Researchers examined thyroid cancers diagnosed up to two decades after the Chernobyl accident and found that higher thyroid radiation doses estimated from measurements taken shortly after the accident were associated with more aggressive tumor features.

“Our group has previously shown that exposures to radioactive iodine significantly increase the risk of thyroid cancer in a dose-dependent manner. The new study shows that radiation exposures are also associated with distinct clinical features that are more aggressive,” said the paper’s first author, Lydia Zablotska, MD, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at UC San Francisco (UCSF). The paper will be published online Tuesday, Oct. 28, in the journal Cancer.

Zablotska said the findings have implications for those exposed to radioactive iodine fallout from the 2011 nuclear reactor incidents in Fukushima, Japan, after the reactors were damaged by an earthquake-induced tsunami.

“Those exposed as children or adolescents to the fallout are at highest risk and should probably be screened for thyroid cancer regularly, because these cancers are aggressive, and they can spread really fast,” Zablotska said. “Clinicians should be aware of the aggressiveness of radiation-associated tumors and closely monitor those at high risk.”

Chernobyl studies led by Zablotska also showed for the first time that exposures to the radioactive iodine after the Chernobyl nuclear plant accident are associated with a whole spectrum of thyroid diseases, from benign to malignant. Benign encapsulated tumors of the thyroid gland are called follicular adenomas, and are treated in the same way as thyroid cancer—by removing the thyroid gland, then giving patients pills to replace the hormones that are lost. Lifelong hormone supplementation treatment is both costly and complicated for patients.

Thyroid cancer is ordinarily rare among children, with less than one new case per million diagnosed each year. Among adults, about 13 new cases will be diagnosed each year for every 100,000 people, according to the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) Program of the National Cancer Institute (NCI). But in the Belarus cohort, the researchers diagnosed 158 thyroid cancers among 11,664 subjects during three rounds of screening. Those who had received higher radiation doses also were more likely to have solid or diffuse variants of thyroid cancer, as well as to have more aggressive tumor features, such as spread to lymphatic vessels and several simultaneous cancer lesions in the thyroid gland.


Other authors of the study include Eldar Nadyrov, MD, Alexander Rozhko, MD, Olga Polyanskaya, MD, Vassilina Yauseyenka, MS, Irina Savasteeva, MD, and Sergey Nikonovich, MD, of the Republican Research Center for Radiation Medicine and Human Ecology in Belarus; Zhihong Gong, PhD, of the Roswell Park Cancer Institute; Robert McConnell, MD, of Columbia University; Patrick O’Kane, MD, of Thomas Jefferson University Hospital; Alina Brenner, MD, PhD, Mark P. Little, PhD, Evgenia Ostroumova, MD, Andre Bouville, PhD, Vladimir Drozdovitch, PhD, Kiyohiko Mabuchi, MD, DrPH, and Maureen Hatch, PhD, of the NCI; Viktor Minenko, PhD, of the Research Institute for Nuclear Problems in Belarus; and Yuri Demidchik, MD, and Alexander Nerovnya, MD, of the Belarusian Medical Academy of Post-Graduate Education in Belarus. Source

Posted in Cancer: Thyroid, Environmental Health: Radiation | Leave a comment

Women play dangerous waiting game with heart symptoms

VANCOUVER ─ When heart symptoms strike, men and women go through similar stages of pain but women are more likely to delay seeking care and can put their health at risk, according to a study presented at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress.

“The main danger is that when someone comes to the hospital with a more severe or advanced stage of heart disease, there are simply fewer treatment options available,” says Dr. Catherine Kreatsoulas, lead author of the study and a Fulbright Scholar and Heart and Stroke Foundation Research Fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Dr. Kreatsoulas, an epidemiologist, says we don’t know enough about how people perceive their heart symptoms and at what stage they are prompted to seek medical care. Her study included patients with suspected coronary artery disease, just prior to undergoing their first coronary angiogram test.

The study was conducted in two parts. In the first part, researchers interviewed cardiac patients about their experience of angina and their decision to seek medical care. A new group of patients was enrolled into the second phase of the study, which quantified by gender the reasons why patients sought care.

Angina is the pain that occurs when your heart doesn’t get as much blood and oxygen as it needs because of a blockage of one or more of the heart’s arteries. This pain is often described as a pressure, tightness or burning feeling. It is a warning signal that you are at increased risk of a heart attack, cardiac arrest or sudden cardiac death.

The researchers developed the term “symptomatic tipping point” to capture the transitional period someone goes through between experiencing cardiac symptoms and getting medical attention. They identified six transitional stages, common to both men and women. Men, she notes, responded to these symptoms faster.

The six stages, in chronological order, include:

• a period of uncertainty (patient attributes their symptoms to another health condition), • denial or dismissal of symptom, • seeking assistance/second opinion of someone such as a friend or family member, • recognition of severity of symptoms with feelings of defeat, • seeking medical attention, then • acceptance.

Women stayed in the denial period longer than men. While men would consult with a friend or loved one more readily about the symptoms, “women would wait for others to tell them they looked horrible,” says Dr. Kreatsoulas. “Women displayed more of an optimistic bias, feeling that the symptoms would pass and get better on their own.”

This finding was substantiated in the second part of the study where women were one and half times more likely than men to wait for symptoms to become more severe and more frequent before seeking medical attention.

Other priorities could be taking over, she suggests, such as women’s focus on caregiving roles or even risk aversion. Dr. Kreatsoulas points to research showing that when women are ill, “they are often more concerned with how long they may be out of commission and not necessarily as concerned about the best treatment options.”

She says that both men and women often attribute symptoms to other possibilities, such as heartburn or a pulled muscle. “But when women feel even a small improvement in symptoms, they seem to dismiss them for a longer period of time,” says Dr. Kreatsoulas.

That may be due partly to a perception that coronary artery disease is a “man’s disease,” even though it’s a leading cause of mortality for women. If women aren’t thinking about heart attack, then it’s easier to disregard the symptoms.

“Angina is a warning signal that you are at increased risk of a heart attack, cardiac arrest or sudden cardiac death,” says Heart and Stroke Foundation spokesperson Dr. Beth Abramson author of Heart Health for Canadians. “If you experience this kind of chest pain, see your doctor immediately to determine the cause and get treatment if necessary.”

As for those angina symptoms, Dr. Abramson says there’s another misconception – that women and men experience different signs of heart problems. “That’s largely a myth and ignoring symptoms could put your life at risk,” she says. “Heart disease is a leading cause of death and can strike anyone. Making healthy choices is an important part of prevention, but understanding the symptoms and acting on them without delay can also save lives.”

Angina usually lasts a few minutes, but if the pain lasts longer, it may mean that you have a sudden, total blockage of a coronary artery or that you may be having a heart attack and you need to get medical help immediately. “In this case, don’t delay. Call 9-1-1 or your local emergency response number immediately,” Dr. Abramson says.

She recommends that men and women alike do a free risk assessment at and get tips on lowering their risk. “Being smoke-free, physically active, following a healthy diet and controlling blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels are key in preventing premature heart disease.”

Research creates survivors

Grace Dierssen’s heart attack was the turning point — the catalyst for a complete lifestyle overhaul. Her high-powered job in software development and e-commerce didn’t leave much room for cultivating personal health.

She ignored the discomfort, exhaustion and breathing difficulties, wondering if her symptoms were all in her mind, as she headed off to work. Hours later, she couldn’t stand the pain and went to a walk-in clinic, which immediately called an ambulance.

“As women, we tend to put everyone else’s needs ahead of ours,” says Grace, acknowledging that many women juggle career, raising children and possibly care for their own parents as well. “I was conscious of that in my own recovery. I’ve learned to stick up for myself, and put my health first.”

Three years after her heart attack, Grace has made a full recovery, and encourages other women to give their health the full attention it deserves before it’s too late.

The Canadian Cardiovascular Congress is co-hosted by the Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Canadian Cardiovascular Society. Source

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Ovarian cancer could be lowered by tea and citrus products: new UEA research

Tea and citrus fruits and juices are associated with a lower risk of developing ovarian cancer, according to new research from the University of East Anglia (UEA).

Research published today reveals that women who consume foods containing flavonols and flavanones (both subclasses of dietary flavonoids) significantly decrease their risk of developing epithelial ovarian cancer, the fifth-leading cause of cancer death among women.

The research team studied the dietary habits of 171,940 women aged between 25 and 55 for more than three decades.

The team found that those who consumed food and drinks high in flavonols (found in tea, red wine, apples and grapes) and flavanones (found in citrus fruit and juices) were less likely to develop the disease.

Ovarian cancer affects more than 6,500 women in the UK each year. In the United States, about 20,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year.

Prof Aedin Cassidy, from the Department of Nutrition at UEA’s Norwich Medical School, led the study. She said: “This is the first large-scale study looking into whether habitual intake of different flavonoids can reduce the risk of epithelial ovarian cancer.

“We found that women who consume foods high in two sub-groups of powerful substances called flavonoids – flavonols and flavanones – had a significantly lower risk of developing epithelial ovarian cancer.

“The main sources of these compounds include tea and citrus fruits and juices, which are readily incorporated into the diet, suggesting that simple changes in food intake could have an impact on reducing ovarian cancer risk.

“In particular, just a couple of cups of black tea every day was associated with a 31 per cent reduction in risk.”

The research was the first to comprehensively examine the six major flavonoid subclasses present in the normal diet with ovarian cancer risk, and the first to investigate the impact of polymers and anthocyanins.


The study was led by Prof Cassidy and Prof Shelley Tworoger, from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Data was derived from the Nurses’ Health Study.

‘Intake of dietary flavonoids and risk of epithelial ovarian cancer’ is published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition on Nov. 1, 2014. Source

Posted in Cancer: Ovarian, Green Tea, Nutrition is Medicine, Nutrition: Food: Orange Juice, Nutrition: Food: Tea | Leave a comment

Alzheimer’s: Self-reported sleep disturbances are linked to higher risk

In a new study, researchers from Uppsala University demonstrate that elderly men with self-reported sleep disturbances run a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease than men without self-reported sleep disturbances. The results are published in the scientific journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia.

The researchers followed more than 1,000 men, who were initially 50 year old, between the years 1970 and 2010. The results of the study show that self-reported sleep disturbances were linked to an increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease during the 40-year follow-up period, particularly if they occurred late in life. The data suggest that a regular good night’s sleep could support brain health in men.

‘We demonstrate that men with self-reported sleep disturbances run a 1.5-fold higher risk to develop Alzheimer’s disease than those without reports of sleep disturbances during a 40-year follow-up period. The later the self-reported sleep disturbance was found the higher the risk was for developing Alzheimer’s disease. These findings suggest that strategies aimed at improving sleep quality in late life may help reduce the risk to develop Alzheimer’s disease’, says Christian Benedict, sleep researcher at Uppsala University, who led the study.

“Importantly, there are several lifestyle factors, such as exercise, that can influence your brain’s health. Thus, it must be borne in mind that a multifaceted lifestyle approach comprising good sleep habits is essential for maintaining brain health as you age”, says Christian Benedict.


Benedict C et al. Self-reported sleep disturbance is associated with Alzheimer’s disease risk in men. Alzheimer’s & Dementia (in press).

In an earlier article published in the journal Sleep, Christian Benedict and colleagues showed that a single night of total sleep deprivation increased blood concentrations of brain molecules in young men that typically rise in blood upon acute brain damage.,4,10,16&typ=artikel&na=&lang=en Source

Posted in Alzheimer's, Sleep | Leave a comment

Prostate Cancer Risk Reduced by Sleeping with Many Women, but Increased with Many Men

Newswise — Compared to men who have had only one partner during their lifetime, having sex with more than 20 women is associated with a 28% lower risk of one day being diagnosed with prostate cancer, according to researchers at the University of Montreal and INRS – Institut Armand-Frappier. However, having more than 20 male partners in one’s lifetime is associated with a twofold higher risk of getting prostate cancer compared to those who have never slept with a man.

Marie-Elise Parent and Marie-Claude Rousseau, professors at university’s School of Public Health, and their colleague Andrea Spence, published their findings in the journal Cancer Epidemiology. The results were obtained as part of the Montreal study PROtEuS (Prostate Cancer & Environment Study), in which 3,208 men responded to a questionnaire on, amongst other things, their sex lives. Of these men, 1,590 were diagnosed with prostate cancer between September 2005 and August 2009, while 1,618 men were part of the control group.

Risk associated with number of partners

Overall, men with prostate cancer were twice as likely as others to have a relative with cancer. However, evidence suggests that the number of sexual partners affects the development of the cancer.

Consequently, men who said they had never had sexual intercourse were almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer as those who said they had.
When a man has slept with more than 20 women during his lifetime there is a 28% reduction in the risk of having prostate cancer (all types), and a 19% reduction for aggressive types of cancer. “It is possible that having many female sexual partners results in a higher frequency of ejaculations, whose protective effect against prostate cancer has been previously observed in cohort studies,” Parent explained.

According to some studies, the underlying mechanism of this protective effect is in reducing the concentration of cancer-causing substances in prostatic fluid or lowering the production of intraluminal crystalloids. It should be noted that for all participants, the age at which they first had sexual intercourse or the number of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) they had contracted did not affect the risk of prostate cancer. Moreover, only 12% of all participants reported having had at least one STI in their lifetime, which is few.

Male partners and increased risk

The data indicate that having only one male partner does not affect the risk of prostate cancer compared to those who have never had sexual intercourse with a man.
On the other hand, those who have slept with more than 20 men are twice as likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer of all types compared to those who have never slept with a man. And their risk of having a less aggressive prostate cancer increases by 500% compared to those who have had only one male partner.

Parent and her team can only formulate “highly speculative” hypotheses to explain this association. “It could come from greater exposure to STIs, or it could be that anal intercourse produces physical trauma to the prostate,” Parent said.

Avenues for further research

Parent, Rousseau, and Spence are specialists in prostate cancer and are the first research team to suggest that the number of female partners is inversely associated with the risk of developing cancer.

“We were fortunate to have participants from Montreal who were comfortable talking about their sexuality, no matter what sexual experiences they have had, and this openness would probably not have been the same 20 or 30 years ago,” Parent explained. “Indeed, thanks to them, we now know that the number and type of partners must be taken into account to better understand the causes of prostate cancer.”

Does this mean public health authorities will soon be recommending men to sleep with many women in their lives? “We’re not there yet,” Parent said.

Posted in Cancer: Prostate, Human Behavior: Sexuality | Leave a comment

Many Home Blood Pressure Monitors May Be Inaccurate

Newswise — Philadelphia, PA (October 28, 2014) — Home blood pressure monitors may be inaccurate in up to 15% of patients, according to a study that will be presented at ASN Kidney Week 2014 November 11¬–16 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia, PA.

Major guidelines recommend home blood pressure monitoring to guide diagnosis and treatment of patients with hypertension; however, little is known about the real-world accuracy of home blood pressure monitors that patients use. Researchers led by Swapnil Hiremath, MD, MPH (Ottawa Hospital and University of Ottawa, in Canada) compared measurements from home blood pressure monitors with validated mercury sphygmomanometers, which are used in doctors’ offices, in 210 patients.

The investigators found that 63/210 of the home monitor systolic blood pressure readings (30%) were > 5 mm Hg different and 16 (8%) were > 10 mm Hg different from the mercury systolic blood pressure measurement. For diastolic blood pressure, these proportions were 32% (67/210) and 9% (18/210) respectively.

“Home blood pressure monitors may be inaccurate in 5% to 15% of patients, depending on the threshold for accuracy used,” said Dr. Hiremath. “We recommend all patients with home monitors get them validated with their health care providers at least once.”

Study: “Are Home Blood Pressure Monitors Accurate Compared to Validated Devices?” (Abstract SA-PO187)

Disclosures: Swapnil Hiremath receives research funding from GE Healthcare. Co-author Ayub Akbari receives research funding from Ortho-Biotech, Boehringer Ingelheim, GE, Merck, Sanofi-Aventis, Pfizer, Amgen, and BMS; and receives honoraria from Ortho-Biotech, Merck, Sanofi-Aventis, Pfizer, and Amgen.

Posted in Health Care: Medical Devices, Health Care: Medical Errors, Hypertension | Leave a comment

Blood Test May Help to Diagnose Pancreatic Cancer

Newswise — INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana University cancer researchers have found that a simple blood test might help diagnose pancreatic cancer, one of the most deadly forms of the disease.

In research published today in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, Murray Korc, M.D., the Myles Brand Professor of Cancer Research at the Indiana University School of Medicine and a researcher at the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center, and colleagues found that several microRNAs – small RNA molecules — circulate at high levels in the blood of pancreatic cancer patients.

“This is a new finding that extends previous knowledge in this field,” Dr. Korc said. “The key new feature here is that there is a panel of microRNAs that can be measured accurately in the plasma component of blood to determine if a patient has pancreatic cancer.”

Specifically, the IU research team found that an increased expression of miRNA-10b, -155, and -106b in plasma appears highly accurate in diagnosing pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma. Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma is by far the most common type of pancreatic malignancy.

Dr. Korc and colleagues made the discovery by examining plasma, bile, pancreatic juice or a combination, which had been collected from 215 patients either immediately before or during an endoscopy.

Dr. Korc pointed out that additional studies are needed to confirm that a blood test could be an effective method of diagnosing pancreatic cancer.

“It may be possible to use a blood test to screen individuals who are at high risk for developing pancreatic cancer,” Dr. Korc said. “We are planning to conduct such studies. It will be important to identify additional markers and to assess how useful a panel of such markers would be for the early diagnosis of this cancer. Based on our findings, this test could also be useful to differentiate between pancreatic cancer and chronic pancreatitis.”

Such a marker would be an advance against metastatic pancreatic cancer because current treatments typically extend a person’s life for only six to 16 weeks. Pancreatic cancer is difficult to detect and diagnose because there are no noticeable signs or symptoms in the early stages and because the pancreas is hidden behind other organs such as the stomach, small intestine, liver, gallbladder, spleen and bile ducts.

Only 6 percent of people with the disease survive more than five years after diagnosis. According to the National Cancer Institute, there will be an estimated 46,420 new cases of pancreatic cancer and 39,590 deaths from the disease in 2014.

This research was funded, in part, by NIH grants R37-CA-075059 and 5K23DK095148.
Contributing to the study were IU School of Medicine researchers Gregory A. Cote, M.D., M.S.; A. Jesse Gore, Ph.D.; Samantha D. McElyea, M.S.; Laura E. Heathers, B.A.; Huiping Xu, Ph.D.; and Stuart Sherman, M.D.

Dr. Korc was named the inaugural Myles Brand Professor of Cancer Research in October 2011. The professorship was created to help physicians and scientists at the IU Simon Cancer Center to continue investigating devastating malignancies, such as pancreatic cancer, which claimed the life of Brand, the 16th president of Indiana University. Brand served as IU’s president from 1994 to 2002.

He is also director of the Center for Pancreatic Cancer Research. The center brings together nearly 50 basic scientists and clinicians who work to improve outcomes for pancreatic cancer patients.

Posted in Cancer: Pancreatic | Leave a comment

Wearable medical device deal announced; Welch Allyn and Gentag announce strategic partnership

Welch Allyn and Gentag announce strategic partnership to advance wireless medical devices

Skaneateles, NY, and Washington, DC, October 28, 2014 — Welch Allyn, a leading medical diagnostic device company that delivers pragmatic innovation at the point of care, and Gentag, Inc., a pioneer in disposable biosensors that can be read with near field communication (NFC) devices, announced today that they have entered into a strategic development agreement. Under the terms of the agreement, Welch Allyn and Gentag will bring to market near field communication technology for medical devices and sensors.

The partnership with Gentag enables Welch Allyn to continue providing innovative solutions in medical settings, and NFC will allow the extension of these technologies for remote patient monitoring worldwide.

“This collaborative opportunity will enable Welch Allyn to provide clinicians with smart monitoring solutions and improve patient access to cutting edge diagnostics,” said Welch Allyn President and CEO, Stephen Meyer.

With Gentag’s NFC technology, it becomes possible to integrate ultrathin battery-less wireless sensors into various medical diagnostic applications. Sending patient measurement data wirelessly via near field communications will open up significant opportunities for workflow efficiency gains and faster availability of clinical information in the Electronic Health Record.

“We are delighted by the partnership with Welch Allyn,” said Gentag CEO, John Peeters. “Welch Allyn has the knowledge, expertise and global market reach that will allow the globalization of NFC technologies in medical diagnostic settings. By combining our intellectual property and technology portfolios with Welch Allyn, we feel that patients will be better served by the worldwide availability of high quality wireless medical devices.”

About Welch Allyn, Inc.
Since 1915 Welch Allyn has brought a unique perspective to developing diagnostic solutions by combining pragmatic knowledge with a visionary spirit of innovation and ongoing improvement. As a leading global manufacturer of physical examination instruments and accessories and EMR-connected vital signs and cardiac monitoring solutions, the company has a steadfast commitment to delivering superlative medical products, services and solutions that help healthcare professionals provide better care for their patients. Welch Allyn is headquartered in Skaneateles Falls, N.Y. (USA) and employs more than 2,600 people in 26 different countries. Visit for more information. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

About Gentag
Gentag, Inc. is pioneering the use of disposable, ultrathin wearable and immunoassay biosensors that can be read with NFC-enabled devices, which will make healthcare and consumer diagnostics more affordable and accessible to all worldwide. The company’s groundbreaking work will revolutionize not only medical applications, but also location-based services and the detection of environmental threats in homes and workplaces. Gentag’s first wireless sensor network patent was filed in 1997. All Gentag NFC patents are held by Altivera, LLC, a Maryland company operated by Gentag and owned by its shareholders. Gentag’s powerful IP and partnerships are at work for a smarter, more connected world. For more information, visit and follow Gentag on Twitter (@gentagInc).

Posted in Health Care: Hospitals, Health Care: Medical Devices, Health Care: Trends, Mobile Health: Diagnostics, Rapid Diagnostics | Leave a comment

6 Turkey Myths

Newswise — Turkey is a major symbol of an American celebration and our giving for the bounties we are fortunate to enjoy. Dr. Judith Rodriguez, registered dietitian and chairperson of the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics at the University of North Florida, discusses myths and facts about turkey and provides tips for including it in a healthy diet.

Myth: Turkey is indigenous to the country, Turkey.

Fact: Of the two wild species of turkey, one is indigenous to the areas from Canada to Mexico and the other is indigenous to the areas from the Yucatan to Guatemala. The Aztecs ate domesticated turkeys. Turkeys were found in the New World and taken back to Spain, from where it quickly spread throughout Europe and other regions. It was introduced to England in the 1500’s, then the Pilgrims brought it back to North America in the 1620’s on the Mayflower, not realizing that was indeed, the turkey’s point of origin.

Myth: Eating turkey makes you sleepy.

Fact: Turkey contains tryptophan, an amino acid supplement that promotes sleep when taken alone (on an empty stomach). However, turkey contains many other amino acids that probably blunt the impact of tryptophan. If you ingested a large meal, your sleepiness is more likely the result of blood being diverted from throughout the body, including the muscles and brain, to the stomach for digestion.

Myth: Turkey skin is all made up of the bad “saturated” fat.

Fact: Turkey skin contains both saturated fat and cholesterol (the “bad”) fats and also mono and polyunsaturated (the “good”) fats. So, if you are tempted to have some turkey skin, it’s important that you limit it to a small piece—indulge in a small amount, along with some lean turkey.

Myth: Turkey should be thawed by covering it with a hot towel.

Fact: Covering a frozen turkey with a hot towel or leaving it on the counter to thaw is dangerous because it creates a temperature favorable for growing germs over the warm part of the turkey. Instead, thaw a frozen turkey in the refrigerator or use the cold water method. However, the cold water method is labor intensive and wastes a valuable resource, water. A 10 pound turkey will take about two days and 12 hours to thaw in a refrigerator; a 20 pound turkey about five days. Plan in advance, so you can enjoy a safe and delicious meal.

Myth: The USDA inspection sticker indicates that the bird is fresh and top grade.

Fact: The USDA inspection checks for wholesomeness and proper handling. However, USDA also provides voluntary grading services. About 70 percent of inspected turkeys are also graded. The grades are U.S. Grade A, B and C.

Myth: Check a whole turkey for doneness by pricking the leg to check for bleeding.

Fact: Cook the whole turkey in an oven at 325 degrees. Turn the wings back, behind the neck to hold it in place to minimize burning of the legs. Insert an oven safe thermometer in the lower part of the thigh and be sure to avoid touching the bone. Or place a thermometer in the center of the stuffing. A temperature of 180 degrees in the thigh and 165 degrees in the breast or stuffing indicates doneness.

Posted in Nutrition: Food: Turkey | Leave a comment

Millions in Unused Medical Supplies Sitting in U.S. Operating Rooms

Newswise — A Johns Hopkins research team reports that major hospitals across the U.S. collectively throw away at least $15 million a year in unused operating room surgical supplies that could be salvaged and used to ease critical shortages, improve surgical care and boost public health in developing countries.

A report on the research, published online Oct. 16 in the World Journal of Surgery, highlights not only an opportunity for U.S. hospitals to help relieve the global burden of surgically treatable diseases, but also a means of reducing the cost and environmental impact of medical waste disposal at home.

The fact of surgical supply waste is nothing new, the researchers note, but say their investigation may be one of the first systematic attempts to measure the national extent of the problem, the potential cost savings and the impact on patients’ lives. While several organizations run donation programs for leftover operating room materials, such efforts would be far more successful if they were made standard protocol across all major surgical centers, the authors say.

“Perfectly good, entirely sterile and, above all, much-needed surgical supplies are routinely discarded in American operating rooms,” says lead investigator Richard Redett, M.D., a pediatric plastic and reconstructive surgeon at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center. “We hope the results of our study will be a wakeup call for hospitals and surgeons across the country to rectify this wasteful practice by developing systems that collect and ship unused materials to places that desperately need them.”

The staggering waste of surgical supplies, the researchers say, is rooted in the common practice of bundling surgical materials in ways that streamline operating room readiness and efficiency, but once opened, everything in the bundle that is unused is thrown away.

“Such programs are acutely needed not only to help address serious needs in resource poor-settings but also to minimize the significant environmental burden at home institutions,” says study co-author Eric Wan, M.D., a recent graduate of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine currently doing postdoctoral training at the National Institutes of Health. “This really is a win-win situation.”

The investigators based their estimates on an existing program that recovers and delivers unused surgical supplies from The Johns Hopkins Hospital to two surgical centers in Ecuador. The authors tracked 19 high-demand surgical items donated to the Ecuadorian hospitals over three years, then extrapolated the amount and value of the donations to 232 U.S. surgical centers with caseloads similar to that of The Johns Hopkins Hospital. The results showed that if the 232 American hospitals saved and donated unused surgical supplies, they would generate 2 million pounds of materials worth at least $15 million over a single year. Going a step further, the researchers tracked outcomes among 33 Ecuadorian patients whose surgeries were made possible as a result of the donations. Their analysis showed that donated surgical supplies prevented, on average, eight years of disability per patient.

In the study, materials topping the 19-item surgical supplies list included gauze, disposable syringes, sutures and surgical towels. However, the investigators say, it is important to tailor shipping to the specific needs of each hospital. Matching of donor leftovers to recipient need, they say, will prevent unnecessary shipping costs and avoid creating medical waste locally. In addition, the receiving hospital must have a demonstrated capability and the equipment to clean and sterilize the shipped materials before use in the operating room.

“Saving and shipping these materials is truly a low-hanging fruit enterprise, a simple strategy that could have a dramatic impact on surgical outcomes and public health in resource-poor settings and truly change people’s lives,” says Redett, who has been running the Johns Hopkins donation program since 2003.

The Johns Hopkins initiative, known as Supporting Hospitals Abroad with Resources and Equipment (SHARE), was modeled after a similar program launched at Yale in 1991.

Co-investigators on the research included Li Xie, Sc.M.; Miceile D. Barrett, B.S.; Pablo A. Baltodano, M.D.; Andres F. Rivadeneira, M.D.; Jonathan Noboa, B.S.; Maya Silver, B.A.; Richard Zhou, B.S.; Suzy Cho, B.S.; Tammie Tam, B.S.; Alp Yurter, B.S.; Carol Gentry, R.N.; Jorge H. Palacios, M.D.; and Gedge D. Rosson, M.D.

Posted in Health Care: Costs, Health Care: Hospitals, World Health | Leave a comment

New prostate cancer screening guideline recommends not using PSA test

A new Canadian guideline recommends that the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test should not be used to screen for prostate cancer based on evidence that shows an increased risk of harm and uncertain benefits. The guideline is published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal)

“Some people believe men should be screened for prostate cancer with the PSA test but the evidence indicates otherwise,” states Dr. Neil Bell, member of the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care and chair of the prostate cancer guideline working group. “These recommendations balance the possible benefits of PSA screening with the potential harms of false positives, overdiagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer.”

For men with prostate cancer diagnosed through PSA screening, between 11.3% and 19.8% will receive a false-positive diagnosis, and 40% to 56% will be affected by overdiagnosis leading to invasive treatment. Treatment such as surgery can cause postoperative complications, such as infection (in 11% to 21% of men), urinary incontinence (in up to 17.8%), erectile dysfunction (23.4%) and other complications.

Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed non-skin cancer in men and the third most common cause of death from cancer in men in Canada. However, the prognosis for most prostate cancers is good with a 10-year survival rate of 95%. Prostate cancer is generally slow to progress and usually not life-threatening.

The guideline, aimed at physicians, other health care professionals and policymakers, contains prostate cancer screening recommendations for using the PSA test with or without manual rectal examination of men in the general population. Based on the latest evidence and international best practices, the guideline updates the previous version published by the task force in 1994.

Key recommendations:

  • For men under age 55 and over age 70, the task force recommends not using the PSA test to screen for prostate cancer. This strong recommendation is based on the lack of clear evidence that screening with the PSA test reduces mortality and on the evidence of increased risk of harm.
  • For men aged 55–69 years, the task force also recommends not screening, although it recognizes that some men may place high value on the small potential reduction in the risk of death and suggests that physicians should discuss the benefits and harms with these patients.
  • These recommendations apply to men considered high risk — black men and those with a family history of prostate cancer — because the evidence does not indicate that the benefits and harms of screening are different for this group.

“Any use of PSA testing to screen for prostate cancer requires a thoughtful discussion between the clinician and the patient about the balance between unclear benefits and substantial harms,” states Dr. James Dickinson, member of the prostate cancer guideline working group.

The guidelines are consistent with the recommendations of the US Preventive Services Task Force and the Cancer Council Australia. The United Kingdom does not have an organized screening program but recommends that men concerned about the risk of prostate cancer receive balanced information on the benefits and harms of screening.

The task force recommendations are based on systematic evidence reviews and use an international framework for assessing quality of evidence and the strength of recommendations for clinical guidelines (GRADE).

To help patients and their physicians make informed decisions, the task force has created tools to help patients and physicians in decision-making about testing. Visit

The Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care has been established to develop clinical practice guidelines that support primary care providers in delivering preventive health care. The mandate of the task force is to develop and disseminate clinical practice guidelines for primary and preventive care, based on systematic analysis of scientific evidence.

“The task force’s guideline is an excellent example of health care decisions being made from the perspective of evidence-based medicine,” writes Dr. Murray Krahn, University Health Network and University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, in a related commentary. “However, it paid insufficient attention to patient values, patient preferences and costs.”

“The task force’s guideline provides a good summary of the data on the effectiveness of prostate cancer screening and a reasonable review of the rate at which potential harms occur,” he states. However, several elements could provide more complete information for making decisions. These include a comprehensive review of patient harms, a review of modelling studies, evidence on cost as well as more on patient preference and shared decision-making, of which there is substantial literature.

Dr. Krahn suggests that recommendations for clinical practice should be based on patient preferences, social values and health care costs in addition to evidence on outcomes.

“The falling overall mortality in some countries that screen intensively [for prostate cancer], the evidence that treatment may have a very modest disease-specific mortality benefit, and the highly variable preferences for treatment outcomes suggest to me that we should not push patients out of decision-making in this area,” concludes Dr. Krahn. Source

Posted in Cancer: Prostate | Leave a comment

Breastfeeding-friendly airports

New Rochelle, NY, October 27, 2014—More than half of women with children less than a year old are working, and work travel can make breastfeeding a challenge. A study of 100 U.S. airports found that few provided a suitably equipped, private lactation room, even though most described themselves as being breastfeeding friendly, as reported in Breastfeeding Medicine, the official journal of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers. The article is available free on the Breastfeeding Medicine website at until November 27, 2014.

In “Airports in the United States. Are They Really Breastfeeding Friendly?,” authors Michael Haight, University of California, San Francisco-Fresno and Joan Ortiz, Limerick Inc. (Burbank, CA), report that while 62% of the airports surveyed answered yes to whether they were “breastfeeding friendly,” only 37% provided a specific lactation room. In only 8% of the airports did that designated space offer the minimum requirements of not being used as a bathroom and having an electrical outlet, table, and chair.

These included San Francisco International, Minneapolis-St. Paul International, Baltimore/Washington International, San Jose International, Indianapolis International, Akron-Canton Regional (OH), Dane County Regional (WI), and Pensacola Gulf Coast Regional (FL) airports.

“This study presents provocative data about our airports,” says Ruth Lawrence, MD, Editor-in-Chief of Breastfeeding Medicine and Professor of Pediatrics, University of Rochester School of Medicine. “The good news is that 62% think they are ‘breastfeeding friendly.’ The bad news is that their actions do not support the claim. There is a lot of work to be done to make travel possible for breastfeeding dyads.” Source

Posted in Pregnancy: Breastfeeding | Leave a comment