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Debate grows over possible dangers from a type of hysterectomy
The Wall Street Journal (Subscription requried)
A British medical journal is the latest voice to enter a growing debate among doctors over a common gynecological procedure that may carry a higher risk of spreading cancer than previously thought. The dispute, detailed in a December Wall Street Journal article, centers on a procedure used in minimally invasive hysterectomies called uterine morcellation. (Article references SGO position statement on morcellation.)
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ABOG reverses ban on treating male patients
The New York Times
After months of protest from doctors and patients, a professional group that certifies obstetrician-gynecologists has lifted a ban it imposed in September and now says its members are free to treat men. The decision, announced by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology, was a reversal of its September directive, and followed partial concessions the group had made in November and December in an effort to mollify critics.
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GENETICS


Telephone equal to in-person talk for BRCA1/2 genetic counseling
Oncology Nurse Advisor
The psychosocial outcomes of telephone genetic counseling are noninferior to standard in-person genetic counseling for BRCA1/2 gene testing, according to research published online Jan. 21 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. Marc D. Schwartz, Ph.D., of Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., and colleagues randomly assigned women, aged 21 to 85 years, who did not have newly diagnosed or metastatic cancer, to telephone counseling or usual care. The authors sought to determine whether telephone counseling was noninferior to in-person counseling for BRCA1/2 gene testing.
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HPV


HPV vaccine doesn't increase sexual behavior
Science Daily
The Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center study shows that teen girls' and young women's beliefs regarding the HPV vaccine, whether accurate or inaccurate, are not linked to subsequent sexual behaviors over the six months after vaccination. Those enrolled in the study didn't change their behavior whether they thought safer sex was less important or just as important after vaccination, or whether they thought the vaccine did or did not decrease the risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) other than HPV. The vast majority thought it was still important to practice safer sex after vaccination, and most did not believe that HPV vaccination protected against other STIs.
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BREAST CANCER


'Mammograms every 2 years, not annually,' suggest scientists
Medical News Today
In 2009, the US Preventive Services Task Force created guidelines recommending biennial mammography screening for women between the ages of 50 and 74. And now, scientists suggest that following this guideline would be equally effective. Researchers also support other aspects of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) guidelines, which recommend women between the ages of 40 and 49 are screened according to other risk factors and women over 75 are screened depending on presence or absence of other diseases.
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HEALTH POLICY


SGR: What Went Wrong?
Medpage Today
Medicare's sustainable growth rate (SGR) payment formula has long been an annual nightmare for policymakers and physicians. Created in 1997 as one of numerous changes to Medicare under the Balanced Budget Act, it was a way to restrain the government's spending on Medicare. If Medicare Part B expenditures exceeded a target tied to overall economic growth, the physician fee schedule would be cut the following year. If spending fell below the target, physician payments would be increased.
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RESEARCH


Genetic function of tumor suppressor gene discovered
Science Daily
Finding ways to maintain or increase the effectiveness of this gene — called Grp1-associated scaffold protein, or Grasp — could offer an important new avenue for human cancer therapies, scientists said. The findings were just published in Photochemical and Photobiological Sciences. The Grasp gene was studied in the skin of mice in this research, but is actually expressed at the highest levels in the brain, heart and lung, studies have shown. It appears to play a fundamental role in the operation of the p53 tumor suppressor gene, which is a focus of much modern cancer research.
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Tackling cancer's heterogeneity in 2014
Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News
As 2013 ended, it seemed that CAR (chimeric antigen receptor) T cell-based therapies had completely monopolized the limelight in the oncology theater. Electrifying data showed that most patients with leukemias and lymphomas treated with CAR T cells showed sustained or complete responses, and many remained cancer free. Carl June’s team even showed some promising results with CAR T cells in solid tumors. It’s not surprising that Novartis is now building an immunotherapy processing plant for scaling up chimeric T-cell production.
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