Health Buzz: Drug May Treat Rare Skin and Brain Cancers and Other Health News

6 secrets to getting the right medical diagnosis; top parenting blogs.

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Study Shows Experimental Drug Treats Rare Cancer

In early testing, a drug successfully shrank tumors in two types of rare cancers, Reuters reports. The drug, being developed by Roche's Genentech and Curis Inc., blocks the hedgehog signaling pathway, a new target for drugs designed to fight cancer, according to Reuters. The pathway appears to play a role in the development of medulloblastoma, a rare and aggressive type of brain cancer. It also may be important in the development of basal cell carcinoma, a common type of skin cancer that in rare cases can spread to other organs, becoming difficult to treat, Reuters reports. The drug shrank basal cell tumors in more than half of the 33 study participants. When tried on a 26-year-old patient with medulloblastoma, tumors that had spread throughout his body shrank dramatically, Reuters reports. But after two months the patient had developed resistance to the drug and the cancer returned. Results are published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Find the latest on treating your cancer and how alternative medicine may help.

6 Secrets to Getting the Right Medical Diagnosis

Most people have received an incorrect diagnosis or seen a doctor who's been stumped by their symptoms. Misdiagnoses can cost lives: an estimated 40,000 to 80,000 hospital deaths every year, according to a March paper published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, U.S. News's Deborah Kotz reports.

One leading reason for such errors? The 18-second rule. "That's the average time it takes for a doctor to interrupt you as you're describing your symptoms," says Jerome Groopman, professor of medicine at Harvard University and author of the best-selling How Doctors Think. "By that point, your doctor has in mind what the answer is, and he or she is probably right about 80 percent of the time—not bad, but not good enough." Kotz asks expert diagnosticians what to do to increase the odds your own experts will get it right. One expert advises patients to verify any shocking medical test results. About 3 to 5 percent of the time, something goes wrong with a lab test—a vial of blood is contaminated, an imaging test incorrectly calibrated, or a tissue biopsy mixed up with another patient's, Kotz writes. Read more.

Find out why where you live may affect your cancer diagnosis. Consider these 7 steps newly diagnosed diabetics should take. And learn how to keep your child safe in the hospital by avoiding medical errors.

Great Blogs on Children, Health, and Parenting

U.S. News's On Parenting blog by contributing writer Nancy Shute has been named one of "100 Pediatric Health Blogs Every Mom Should Read" by the Nurse Practitioner Schools website. Shute writes about a few of her favorite children's health blogs that made the list.

A blog by Gwenn Schurgin O'Keeffe is one Shute singles out. O'Keeffe is a blogging pediatrician "who's the kind of doc I'd want for my own kids," Shute writes. O'Keeffe keeps a close eye on news and trends, like a recent report saying that teenagers turned to parents first to get reliable health information. One of Shute's favorite mommy bloggers is Paula Spencer, who writes the Momfidence blog for Woman's Day. Read more.

Shute has blogged extensively in the last few weeks on the H1N1 virus, including how college kids can protect themselves from swine flu. Here's how parents can prepare for swine flu once school starts and what parents should know about swine flu shots. For more children's health news, check out Shute's On Parenting blog.

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