Top news of the day from across the health care landscape.
When melanoma metastasizes to the lymph nodes, standard treatment involves the surgical removal of all lymph nodes where malignant cells were found. But recent findings have now called this common procedure into question, The New York Times reported. In a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, 1939 patients with melanoma plus lymph node metastases were randomized to either undergo lymph node removal or continued observation using ultrasound. After 3 years, the investigators found that there was no difference in survival between the 2 groups, but adverse events were more common among patients who underwent surgery. However, lead author Dr Mark B Faries, noted that the surgery can still be useful for certain patients. “If any other lymph nodes are involved, there is a higher risk for recurrence and death,” Dr Faries told the NY Times. “So it adds information about long-term outlook. But it’s just information.” Although the added information does not improve survival, it could help patients decide what treatment path they want to take, the report concluded.
Although mammograms can be critical to catching and treating breast cancer early, they don’t always save lives. According to NPR, a new study concluded that a significant proportion of tumors detected through this method are not small because they are found early, but rather are biologically prone to slow growth. “For over 100 years, we’ve known that small breast cancers have a much better prognosis than large breast cancers,” lead investigator Donald Lannin told NPR. “We always assumed that it was because we were catching the small cancers early and then that’s why the cure rate was much better.” For the study, the investigators analyzed information regarding thousands of breast cancer cases collected between 2001 and 2013 by the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results database. They found that approximately 22% of tumors detected by mammography are slow growing. Breast cancer various tremendously, with some that are aggressive and grow rapidly and others that are extremely slow growing. These small tumors can take 15 to 20 years before they start causing issues, but will still go through biopsies, surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.
An unidentified yellow pill has caused at least a dozen individuals to be hospitalized over 48 hours in Georgia, followed by 6 more linked to overdoses the following day, CNN reported. Some patients said they thought the mystery pill was a Percocet because it was stamped with the word in all capital letters; however, investigators say the pill is counterfeit. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is currently analyzing the contents of the pills.