New Drug Could Help Skin Cancer Patients Live Longer
For those with the deadliest form of skin cancer, there's a new drug on the horizon—one that shows promise in slowing tumor growth and helping patients live longer. In a trial of more than 600 patients with metastatic melanoma, those taking Swiss drugmaker Roche's RG7204, an experimental pill that attacks a gene mutation found in about half of melanoma patients, lived longer than those given dacarbazine, the standard treatment. Their disease also advanced more slowly, Roche announced Wednesday. RG7204 works by blocking a faulty protein produced in cancer cells, while leaving functioning proteins in noncancerous cells intact. Side effects, however, include rash, sensitivity to light, joint pain, hair loss, and fatigue, The Wall Street Journal reports. Plans to bring the drug to market will begin after the study results are presented at a conference later this year. Full study results have not been published, and the company has not disclosed how much longer patients taking the drug live.
4 Health Reform Changes to Expect at Your Doctor's Office
A paper published in the Annals of Internal Medicine last August attempted to explain how the Affordable Care Act is likely to transform the practice of medicine and outlined what changes doctors will need to make in order to provide better care for their patients.
The authors highlighted a number of problems that exist: rates of readmissions, medication errors, and infections are much too high at nationwide hospitals, family physician Kenny Lin writes for U.S. News. And American patients fail to take full advantage of preventive services like counseling for smoking cessation and screening for cancer. "Physicians will need to embrace rather than resist change," the study authors wrote, in order for the new legislation to successfully reverse these problems and reduce healthcare costs in the long term. That means doctors need to move away from a system where they're paid for ordering more tests and performing more procedures and toward one that reimburses them for coordinating care among a number of specialists and preventive health professionals like nutritionists and nurse practitioners. The goal is to keep you healthier and out of the hospital. Here's what you can expect at the doctor's office if not now, soon.
1) You'll get the healthcare you need—no more, no less. It's surprising, and frankly shocking, how little doctors know about the effectiveness of the treatments they routinely prescribe for common conditions such as heart failure and diabetes. While studies are often lacking that help doctors determine which test or treatment is most appropriate for you, a new federal Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute will provide funding for studies to help doctors make more informed decisions. That should keep you from getting unnecessary medical care and provide you with care that's most effective. Since research takes time to perform and doctors are often slow to change their practices based on new research, this change may not happen immediately. While studies performed more than a decade ago showed that MRI scans provide no benefit for acute back pain and that antibiotics have no effect on acute bronchitis, doctors have only recently curtailed their use of them, and many still prescribe these costly tests and drugs when patients demand them. [Read more: 4 Health Reform Changes to Expect at Your Doctor's Office.]
8 Strategies for Coping With Job Loss
Losing a job hurts—and sometimes the pain extends beyond the pocketbook, hitting the heart and mind, too. But recent research suggests the misery of unemployment leads to few long-term psychological effects. Indeed, most of us are naturally resilient, says George Bonanno, who coauthored a December study published in the Journal of Neuroscience, Psychology, and Economics.
"We dread something like this happening, but when it actually does, most of us are OK—even though we hear about the extremes, the sad stories [of] people who are devastated," says Bonanno, a psychology professor at Columbia University in New York.
With the unemployment rate still high—more than 15 million Americans are currently jobless—experts suggest these coping strategies to improve mental well-being:
Remember: The pain won't last forever. If you were happy prior to losing your job, you'll be happy again, says Bonanno, whose findings suggest it takes about a year to bounce back. "Nobody loses a job and doesn't get upset," Bonanno says. "But when we feel that way, it's hard to believe the upset will ever go away." It's important to remind yourself that all difficult situations pass, and eventually you will feel like yourself again. [Read more: 8 Strategies for Coping With Job Loss.]
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