A New Advance in Cancer Testing

Liquid biopsy testing for undetected cancers.

We have written before about the unfortunate existence of genetic testing scams. But today, we share good news about a new advance in cancer testing.

Finding Undiagnosed Careers: A New Advance in Cancer Testing

According to Amy Mone of Johns Hopkins University, writing for Futurity:

A liquid biopsy test can safely detect as many as 26 undiagnosed cancers, according to a study of 9,900 women with no evidence or history of cancer. The findings show the test could be incorporated into routine clinical care in combination with conventional screening.

Overall, the blood test detected 26 cancers. While standard screening such as mammography or colonoscopy detected an additional 24 cancers. Together, screen-detected cancers (those detected through either blood testing or standard screening), accounted for more than half of the 96 cancers detected during the study period.

Diagnostic PET-CT most often localized cancers the new test detected. Surgeons could remove 12 of the cancers the blood test detected.

Researchers at the Ludwig Center at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, who developed the blood test, say the study, called DETECT-A (Detecting cancers Earlier Through Elective mutation-based blood Collection and Testing) represents the first time researchers used any liquid biopsy blood test clinically to screen for cancer in a population without previously detected cancer for the purpose of diagnosis and intervention—specifically treatment with the intent to cure cancer.

Click the image to read more from Mone. 

A New Advance in Cancer Testing

 

Rewarding Our Brains to Break Bad Habits

Two non-threatening animations from Dr. Jud

On Monday, we presented an infographic to help reduce anxiety. PLEASE take a look.

Now, we offer a brief discussion and two clever videos on changing bad habits by Jud Brewer, M.D., Ph.D.: “Dr. Jud [as he is called] is the Director of Research and Innovation at the Mindfulness Center and associate professor in psychiatry at the School of Medicine at Brown University, as well as a research affiliate at MIT.”

As per Dr. Jud:

“How are habits formed? What is the biggest secret behind our mind’s choices? Why is it so hard to break some of our most unhelpful habits, including worry and panic during this challenging time? How can we upgrade our mind’s habit system?”

Video 1: The Habit Loop — Anxiety

The first animation deals with the three stages of the habit loop: trigger->behavior->reward.

Video 2: Breaking Bad Habits

The second animation notes some recent research that Dr. Jud’s lab has done to help people quit smoking and stop overeating. And it provides simple tips on how you can learn to leverage your own brain for habit change.

 

We REALLY Hope This Device Works

For just $300 in parts, Rice University is devising an automated ApolloBVM device.

As we all know, there is a worldwide shortage of ventilators for those stricken with COVID-19. While there are finally multiple efforts underway to produce more ventilators, the time to and costs of converting factories has caused a real  lag.

In the mean time, many innovative and entrepreneurial efforts are taking place.

According to Rice University:

“The ApolloBVM is a controllable, automated add-on solution to the existing and widely available Bag Valve Mask (BVM). The device compresses the BVM with a mechanical system that is able to provide consistent and accurate ventilation with positive-pressure.”

“This solution exists within the top range of high-acuity limited-operability (HALO) ventilator solutions with an a priori design to produce volume and pressure cycled ventilation that includes positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP) and enriched oxygen sources.”

“The ApolloBVM is a rapidly scalable solution with a clinician-informed end-to-end design that repurposes the existing BVM global inventory toward widespread and safe access of hospital-grade mechanical ventilation.”

The video below highlights the promising, inexpensive, and simple-to-scale-up inhaler that would help those who are not in critical condition. 

For much more information on this exciting project, click here.

 

What We Should Do Now – Cleanliness

Be smart. Follow these tips.

This week, we add to our two posts from last week. About the Coronavirus and Coronavirus Thoughts from a High-Risk Perspective. Today, we look at what we should do now – cleanliness. Thursday, we look at activities we can do to productively occupy ourselves.

Update from the author: For the most part, I stayed at home last week. Went out to the supermarket a couple of times and ate out once. However, as of today during my routine checkup, my endocrinologist (Dr. T) told me to stay at home. Period! And when Dr. T speaks, we listen. After all, he saved my life with his early discovery of my pancreatic cancer.

Food for Thought: What We Should Do Now – Cleanliness

The number one COVID-19 tip is overwhelming related to cleanliness. Washing our hands regularly for at least 20 seconds. Reducing how often we touch our faces. Washing down surfaces we and others touch. Even cleaning our cell phones. And more!

Just yesterday, Futurity ran an article on the importance of cleanliness from Neal Buccino of Rutgers University. Some highlights from that article:

    • “The CDC recommends daily disinfection for frequently touched surfaces such as tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks. The CDC also recommends the use of detergent or soap and water on dirty surfaces prior to disinfection.”
    • “Whatever cleaning solution you use, let it remain in contact with the surface long enough to kill viruses and other pathogens. The time depends on the chemical. Don’t use different cleaning agents at the same time. Some, if mixed, can create dangerous and poisonous gases.”
    • “Bleach can be diluted with cold water to make an effective disinfectant against bacteria, fungi, and many viruses — including coronaviruses. Be sure to follow the directions on the label of your bleach.”
    • “You can dilute alcohol with water (or aloe vera to make hand sanitizer) but be sure to keep an alcohol concentration of around 70% to kill coronaviruses. Many hand sanitizers have a concentration of about 60% alcohol. And Lysol contains about 80%. These are all effective against coronaviruses.”
    • “Vinegar, tea tree oil, and other natural products are not recommended for fighting coronaviruses.”

To read more at Futurity, click the image.

What We Should Do Now - Cleanliness
“Whatever cleaning solution you use, let it remain in contact with the surface long enough to kill viruses and other pathogens. The time needed will depend on the chemical.” (Credit: Getty Images)

 

Coronavirus Thoughts from a High-Risk Perspective

As older and less-healthy adults, what are we to do?

On Tuesday, we looked at the coronavirus in terms of facts versus myths. Now, we offer coronavirus thoughts from a high-risk perspective.

As those of you who read Living Well While Surviving Cancer already know, the author of this blog (Joel Evans) is a pancreatic cancer survivor with a compromised immune system. As well as a Type I diabetic. And a senior citizen. That puts me in the highest-risk category if I contract COVID-19.

Something else to worry about. Or not. After all, what am I supposed to do now? I refuse to lock myself in my house. But what smart things should I do?

Psychologically, I was fine until the CDC issued an advisory for older adults. According to a CNN report:

[On Thursday March 5, 2020] “Amid a coronavirus outbreak in the United States, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is encouraging older people and people with severe chronic medical conditions to stay at home as much as possible.'”

“This advice is on a CDC Web site, according to a CDC spokeswoman. Early data suggest older people are twice as likely to have serious illness from the novel coronavirus, according to the CDC.”

“The CDC guidance comes as two top infectious disease experts with ties to the federal government have advised people over 60 and those with underlying health problems to strongly consider avoiding activities that involve large crowds. Dr. William Schaffner, a Vanderbilt University professor and longtime adviser to the CDC, said these two groups should consider avoiding activities such as traveling by airplane, going to movie theaters, attending family events, shopping at crowded malls, and going to religious services.”

Also, check out the CNN video.

My Advice to Myself

In light of the CDC’s warning and my health status, what am I to do? My answer for ME (which may be different than your advice for YOU) is to BOTH be smart and live life every day.

I will go out to restaurants, but not to movie theaters. Linda and are rethinking our vacation plans and not going on the cruise we were planning. Also, the thought of air travel does not excite me. I will wash my hands more often and more thoroughly.  I will continue my volunteer work at United Cerebral. I guess I will fist pump rather than shake hands, even though this seems somewhat silly to me.

When I started thinking about doing this post, I looked for information from AARP. And as expected, it has a terrific section of its Web site devoted to COVID-19:

“Older Americans and adults who take routine medications to manage chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, should make sure they have ‘adequate supplies’ on hand as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases continues to climb in the U.S.”

“Avoiding sick people and washing your hands often are two preventive strategies public health experts have been pushing to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Older Americans living in areas that are experiencing spikes in coronavirus cases may also need to think about the actions they take to reduce exposure to the virus.  This may include social distancing strategies, such as teleworking and avoiding large public gatherings.”

“Health officials also advise taking everyday steps that can prevent the spread of respiratory viruses. Wash your hands often with soap and water (scrub for at least 20 seconds), and use alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap is not an option. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. And cover your coughs and sneezes. “

Click the image to read a lot more from AARP.

Coronavirus Thoughts from a High-Risk Perspective

About the Coronavirus

Facts versus myths.

We have waited until this week to write about the coronavirus. Why? Because of the fast-changing situations around the world. As well as the considerable misinformation that has been spread.

Today, we strive to learn more about the facts surrounding the coronavirus. Thursday, we look at the coronavirus from the perspective of someone who is considered high risk. That person is me (Joel Evans).

Digging Out Facts About the Coronavirus

It is amazing that new details are coming out every day about the coronavirus, in terms of symptoms, testing, the number contracting the virus,  what to do with those who are infected, etc.

Worldwide, there has been a lack of transparency with regard to so many aspects of the coronavirus. And there is a worldwide panic about the looming “pandemic.” About 300 million children have had their schools closed.  Numerous events have been cancelled or postponed. And lots of companies have asked/told their employees to work at home.

Background

We are NOT going into depth about the statistics on the coronavirus, formally name COVID-19. They are constantly changing. As of the writing of this post, COVID-19 has spread to nearly 100 countries, affected more than 100,000 people worldwide, and resulted in about 3,500 deaths.

As reported by the Kaiser Family Foundation:

“In late 2019, a new coronavirus emerged in central China to cause disease in humans. Cases of this disease, known as COVID-19, have since been reported across China and in many other countries around the globe. On January 30, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the virus represents a public health emergency of international concern. And on January 31, 2020, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared it to be a health emergency for the United States.”

This tracker provides the number of cases and deaths from novel coronavirus by country, the trend in case and death counts by country, and a global map showing which countries have cases and deaths. The data are drawn directly from official  coronavirus situation reports released regularly by the WHO. It should be noted that the WHO reported case numbers are conservative, and likely represent an undercount of the true number of coronavirus cases, especially in China. The tracker will be updated regularly, as new situation reports are released.

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention”) is the U.S. agency overseeing efforts. Click here for its COVID-19 Web site.

Key Facts

Following, we present several other strong sources of information.

Johns Hopkins probably has the most accurate data about COVID-19 in the United States and around the world. It regularly contacts health organizations and even has a real-time interactive map. Click the image to access the map.

About the Coronavirus

In addition, Johns Hopkins provides a free quiz on the myths and facts of COVID-19. Click here to access it.  BE AWARE.

The European Union has a dedicated COVID-19 Web site. As well as an infographic overview.

About the Coronavirus

Consumer Reports has an-depth COVID-19 Web site. Click the link at the start of this line. Then, click the image for a very good series of FAQs,

About the Coronavirus

Worldvision.org also has an excellent, full-featured Web site.

 

Best Health News Stories of the 2010s

Health advances of the 2010s

As we confront the ramifications of the coronavirus, we also have to consider the overall state of healthcare. [We will have a post on the coronavirus in the near future. We’ve been waiting to get more clarity, rather than make comments based on conjecture.]

Sometimes, when we’re feeling let down by the health care system, we need to also read about good news. Thus, today’s post: Best Health News Stories of the 2010s.

According to 24/7 Wall St., here are 15 of the top health news stories of the past decade, MOSTLY good: 

“The 2010s will go down in history as a decade of many newsworthy health-related stories, many of which are not good news — Ebola, measles, antibiotic resistance. But the years since 2010 were not all bad. Many good things happened, too, and some of them will have a lasting effect for generations to come. 24/7 Tempo went through multiple news archives. We read dozens of articles published since 2010 and selected 15 of the most positive health news that made headlines.”

“Some of the most talked about stories over the last few years have influenced health guidelines, treatment of serious disease, and even government policy. Reports of significant research developments in the treatment and prevention of chronic and other conditions gave hope to millions of Americans. Some of the good news broke as recently just a few months ago .”

Here are the 15 – in chronological order from earliest to latest. Click the link above to read a lot more.

        • CT scans in high risk patients to reduce overall lung cancer mortality
        • Melanoma drug approved
        • Gene editing now possible
        • FDA reports trans fat should not be considered ‘safe’
        • HIV prevention pill
        • New way to treat cavities
        • 3D printing of human organs
        • Immunotherapy and cancer
        • Opioid crisis recognized as national public health emergency
        • Early-stage Alzheimer’s treatment
        • Smoking rates at all-time low
        • Cystic fibrosis treatment approved by FDA
        • Second HIV patient goes into remission
        • Blood test detects breast cancer 5 years early
        • Finding a cure for arthritis

Unfortunately, the one negative story out of the 15 involves the opioid epidemic.