September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month
New diagnostic test will save lives.
Ovarian cancer ranks as the most lethal of gynecological malignancies.
It is only 10 percent as common as breast cancer, but its mortality rate
is three times as high. The reason: No test to detect it was available.
In the coming months, there will be. In what's being hailed as a
milestone in women's health, researchers at Yale University have
developed a simple test to detect ovarian cancer in its earliest stages.
If not detected early, before it spreads, the 5-year mortality rate is
more than 93 percent. About 16,000 women will die of ovarian cancer this
The researchers have devised a screening test
that measures six cancer-related proteins in blood. Previously, the
proteins had been linked individually to cancer. Now the researchers
have found that by measuring all six at the same time, they could
reliably diagnose ovarian cancer, a big breakthrough.
The blood test is in its final stage III trial and is expected to be
widely available, probably within a year.
ovarian cancer are often vague and mimic those of other conditions.
Recent research shows that these four symptoms are predictive: bloating,
pelvic or abdominal pain, difficulty eating or feeling full quickly, and
urinary urgency and frequency.
Often there are no
symptoms, which is why the new test is so important.
Primary Care Physicians Move to Electronic Records
A survey by Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston
shows that only 4 percent of primary care physicians have converted
paper records to a complete electronic system. Another 13 have converted
from paper records to basic electronic systems. Those surveyed said the
systems improved care.
An additional 42 percent of
primary care physicians say they are either in the process of
implementing an electronic system or are planning to do so within two
years. That's good news, says Catherine DeRoches of Mass General who led
The systems include safety features for
the patient, such as prompts on when a medication may react badly with
another drug the patient is already taking.
of converting is estimated to be about $60,000 for each doctor, or
billions of dollars nationwide. The federal government has a $150
million pilot program that would help hundreds of doctors switch and
create a blueprint for others to follow.
benefit in several other ways. The systems allow them to request
prescription refills, set up appointments, view their medical records
and update them, and request referrals.
Prescribed and Over-the-Counter Pain Relief Patches
The safest pain patches are those sold at drugstores
without a prescription. Typically, they contain camphor or menthol and
are versions of Bengay, Aspercreme or Tiger Balm creams.
Pain patches provide more consistent relief than pills because the
relief from pills decreases between doses.
2008, the Food and Drug Administration approved Flector, a prescription
pain relief patch. It can be used for short-term pain such as that from
pulled muscles, or severe bruises. It is applied directly to the
sensitive area and can be reapplied every 12 hours, but Flector is still
It contains diclofenac, a
nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) drug. Stomach upset may be
experienced but not as much as with other NSAIDs. Doctors at Johns
Hopkins Medical Centers say the Flector patch should not be used by
people who are at risk for heart disease. It raises the risk of blood
clots, which can cause heart attack, or stroke.
strongest prescription pain relief patch, Duragesic, is made with
fentanyl, a powerful narcotic. It may be prescribed for people who need
around-the-clock pain relief, such as cancer patients. It should not be
used by surgery patients or people with occasional pain from conditions
like bursitis or a pulled muscle.
If your doctor
prescribes a Duragesic patch, follow the directions very carefully.
Overdose can cause difficulty breathing, feeling faint and dizziness.
Some fatalities have occurred.