Treatment and Early Detection Cut Breast Cancer Deaths 39 Percent

Breast Cancer DeathsMore than 322,600 deaths from breast cancer were avoided in the United States between 1989 and 2015 thanks to improvements in treatment and early detection, according to a report released this week by the American Cancer Society. The overall rate of decline was 39 percent, although black women continue to have higher breast cancer death rates than white women. In addition to early detection by mammograms, the society recommends women make good lifestyle choices, including maintaining a healthy weight, being physically active, limiting alcohol consumption and avoiding tobacco products.

When Genetic Testing Gets Personal

Genetic TestingAs consumer demand picks up steam, many health care systems are teaming up with Silicon Valley companies to offer genetic tests that can screen for numerous hereditary diseases, the New York Times’ Anahad O’Connor writes. Experts say the tests can save lives, but warn that not all testing firms are as reliable as others and some make claims that are not based on solid data. However, O’Connor notes that, “in April, 23andMe received approval from the Food and Drug Administration to market the first direct-to-consumer genetic tests for 10 diseases, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, with no doctor involved.”

‘Troubling Rise in Syphilis Among Women and Newborns’

Syphillis Among NewbornsThat’s how a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes the fact that from 2015 to 2016, rates of syphilis among women in the U.S. climbed by 36 percent and congenital syphilis — which occurs when a woman passes the disease on to her baby during pregnancy — rose 28 percent. The CDC notes that “while syphilis was nearly eliminated a decade ago, today it is on the rise.” The data are part of a report on the increase in all kinds of sexually transmitted diseases; the CDC estimates that 20 million new sexually transmitted infections occur every year in the United States, accounting for almost $16 billion in health care costs annually. It calls for a “renewed commitment from all players,” including the CDC itself, state and local health departments, providers and the public. “Providers should make STD screening and timely treatment a standard part of medical care, especially for pregnant women” and men who have sex with men, the CDC advises. “They should also try to seamlessly integrate STD screening and treatment into prenatal care, as well as HIV prevention and care services to leverage PrEP clinical guidelines.”

Getting 30-Year-Olds to Donate Blood Isn’t Easy

Blood DonationsBlood use has dropped by about a third in the last decade, “largely because of improvements in surgical techniques and a focus on blood conservation” by hospitals and other providers, JoNel Aleccia reports in Kaiser Health News. Of course, blood is still critical for saving lives, and finding enough of it is getting trickier, according to the article, which has the nifty headline: “As Loyal Donors Age, Industry Is Out for Young Blood.” Aleccia writes that “for people who grew up during World War II — and their children, the baby boomers — blood donation was a civic duty that became a lifelong habit. But as those generations age, blood banks nationwide are trying to convince teenagers and young adults to take up the cause. Blood drives in high schools and colleges have been successful, and Americans 16 to 22 years of age now account for 20 percent of all blood donations. However, those in their late 20s and early 30s “can be harder to reach, more mobile and less inclined to donate.” Keeping up with what’s hot in social media may be one key to getting the message across to them. Another may be to encourage young people who do donate to organize their own blood drives and to become ambassadors for the cause to their friends and colleagues.