Who Are the ‘Exceptional Survivors’ of Breast Cancer?
More than 90 percent of women diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer die within a decade. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison want to know why the tiny proportion of survivors manage to outlive other patients who have the same or even better prognoses, reports Karen Herzog in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Study leader Mark Burkard says he “has his hunches” about those reasons, but he and his team will look at everything from genetics to immune systems to environmental factors. “If the reason some people are living longer is within our control — treatment, lifestyle or immune response — we could potentially help others be exceptional survivors, too,” he told Herzog. “There may be things not in our control to modify: specific genetics of these tumors. But then we could predict who would survive longer, and we may plan her treatment differently.”
A Cure for Lyme Disease: Foxes
As summer vacationers head to the great outdoors, Lyme disease is an ever-present threat. A recent Dutch study, though, suggests one possible solution to the problem, The New York Times' Amy Harmon reports. That solution: foxes. The study shows that areas with more small-mammal predators — like foxes — contained fewer mice with pathogens that can infect humans. Diseases like Lyme are spread to people by ticks, which feed on the blood of small animals during various stages of their development. The study suggests that predators don't necessarily reduce the population of mice in a given area. Rather, foxes reduce the movement of mice when they're around, possibly breaking the cycle of infection. When it comes to public policy, Harmon reports, ecologists say that if we protect small predators and their habitat, we might see less Lyme disease among humans.
The Best Price on Prescriptions? Click to Find Out
We all know where to go online to shop for the cheapest airline fares and hotel prices. Now, a growing number of websites are offering the same kind of price comparisons for prescription drugs, notes CBS News. Prescription “prices are set via a complex web of relationships between pharmaceutical companies and drug distributors,” CBS reports. “As a result, drug pricing is notoriously opaque, leaving consumers and even insurers in the dark about why the cost of their medications are surging.” The same prescription may cost more at one pharmacy than at another store in the same neighborhood. The site GoodRx offers coupons to be used at stores. Blink Health “groups patients’ prescriptions together for purchasing power to lower price. ... Customers pay for the medication online, then pick up the prescription.” As in every corner of our field these days, technology is empowering consumers to take more control of their health care decisions.