Promising News on Breast Cancer
A treatment that combines Herceptin and Pertuzumab had "impressive results" in a phase II breast cancer trial, drugmaker Roche Holding AG reports. According to the data, half of the patients with advanced, HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer saw a benefit from a combination of the two therapies. "This efficacy is the best I have observed with HER2-targeted therapy without chemotherapy, and represents significant promise for women with breast cancer in the future," Jose Baselga, the trial's lead investigator, said in a statement. The results were presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology's meeting in Chicago.
Earlier this month, Deborah Kotz explained the benefits of receiving both an ultrasound and a mammogramto detect breast cancer. And earlier this year, she listed three ways tolower your risk of recurrence of the disease.
SIDS May Have a Bacterial Cause
Some cases of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, may be caused by a common bacterial infection, according to a new study in this week's issue of The Lancet. The study found high levels of Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli (E. coli) in children who had died of SIDS. About 2,500 babies die of SIDS every year in the United States. The cause is mostly a mystery, but having babies sleep on their backs and avoiding smoking around infants are thought to protect against SIDS.
U.S. News Offers Rankings of America's Best Children's Hospitals
When a trio of U.S. News reporters went out to find examples of the best that pediatric medicine has to offer, they returned with tales of wondrous feats. Top children's centers take on daunting challenges—babies that fit in the palm of the hand, tangled viscera, and mangled hearts. What the reporters found represents the highest level of skill in the half-dozen specialties added to this year's "America's Best Children's Hospitals" rankings: cancer, digestive disorders, heart and heart surgery, neonatal care, neurology and neurosurgery, and respiratory disorders.
Hospitals were asked for information that ranged from volume of cystic fibrosis patients (in respiratory disorders) to the number of children who had moderately to very difficult heart surgery. Responses were received from 113 of the 143 hospitals invited to complete the survey. The basis for all of the rankings is a blend of reputation, outcome (where available), and care-related measures such as volume, nursing, and credentialing.
Limited-Benefit Plans Have Their Drawbacks
Is having some sort of health insurance—even spotty coverage—better than having no protection at all? That's the conventional wisdom behind initiatives like the bill signed last week by Florida Gov. Charlie Crist that allows insurers to sell inexpensive health insurance policies with limited benefits to uninsured Floridians, Michelle Andrews reports. The law is the latest example of a nationwide trend toward offering "limited benefit" or "bare bones" plans that often cover some everyday medical expenses like visits to the doctor and prescription medications but may come up seriously short if a policyholder gets seriously ill.
Andrews explores how low-cost, limited-benefit plans cut corners in the On Health & Money blog. Last year, she described how such plans can leave those with serious illnesses insured but not fully covered.
—January W. Payne