New Hope for Those with Pancreatic Cancer

Mayo Clinic providing new options.

For those who follow this blog, you know that I am a VERY fortunate pancreatic cancer survivor. Since my cancer was diagnosed early, I was able to have a successful Whipple surgery. For most, the outlook is not as positive.

But, new research presents greater hope for the future. As Erika Edwards reports for NBC News:

“Historically, doctors have given pancreatic cancer patients chemotherapy or radiation hoping it would cause the tumor to shrink or pull away from the artery or vein it’s ensnared. Dr. Mark Truty, a surgical oncologist at Mayo Clinic, believes that’s the wrong approach. ‘You’re going to be sorely disappointed if that’s what you’re expecting’, Truty told NBC News.”

“About a third of pancreatic cancer cases are found at stage 3. Truty estimates about half of his pancreatic cancer patients diagnosed at this stage seek his care after other physicians said their tumors could not be surgically removed. His team’s approach to treating stage 3 pancreatic cancer is different from most other oncology practices”

“The Mayo Clinic approach works like this. Patients are given extended, personalized chemotherapy until levels of a tumor marker in the blood called CA 19-9 fall to a normal range. Then if a PET scan shows the tumor is destroyed, doctors move forward with radiation and surgery.”

“Among 194 pancreatic cancer treated this way at the Mayo Clinic, 89 percent lived longer than the expected 12 to 18 months. The approach has pushed average survival to five years after diagnosis, according to a study by the Mayo Clinic.

To learn more, watch the following video. Note: The beginning of the video may be a downer. But the overall video is hopeful.


 

Using Robotics to Help Those with Severe Disabilities

Advances in robotics are quite helpful.

For those with severe physical disabilities, even simple tasks may be difficult. And that can be depressing. But, companies are making great strides with robotics. These advances have the potential to increase the quality of life. Read below and then view the video.

Here is one example, as discussed by John Toon of Georgia Tech:

“An interface system with augmented reality technology could help people with profound motor impairments operate a humanoid robot to feed themselves and perform routine personal care tasks. Those tasks might include feeding and performing routine personal care tasks such as scratching an itch and applying skin lotion. The web-based interface displays a ‘robot’s eye view’ of surroundings to help users interact with the world through the machine.”

“Described in PLOS ONE, the system could help make sophisticated robots more useful to people who don’t have experience operating complex robotic systems. Study participants interacted with the robot interface using standard assistive computer access technologies—such as eye trackers and head trackers—that they already used to control their personal computers.”

“The paper reports on two studies showing how such ‘robotic body surrogates’ — which can perform tasks similar to those of humans —could improve the quality of life for users. The work could provide a foundation for developing faster and more capable assistive robots.”


 

Two Research-Based Medication Findings

Studies on kidney disease and A-fib.

As we know, particular medications may or may not be for us. Even if they are fine for others. Let’s consider two examples.

Heartburn and Our Kidneys

Marget Robinson of the University of Buffalo reports that:

“Common medications for heartburn, acid reflux, and ulcers are linked to increased risks of kidney failure and chronic kidney disease, according to a new study. Use of proton pump inhibitors (PPI), a group of drugs that reduce the production of stomach acid, may increase risk as much as 20 percent — and also come with a four times greater risk of kidney failure, researchers say. People at least 65 years old have the highest risk.”

“The research, which appears in Pharmacotherapy, is one of the first large, long-term studies to examine the effects of PPIs on kidney function. Researchers examined health data of more than 190,000 patients over a 15-year period. This study adds to a growing list of concerning side effects and adverse outcomes associated with PPIs,’ says David Jacobs, lead investigator and assistant professor of pharmacy practice in the University at Buffalo School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. ‘Given the increasing global use of PPIs, the relationship between PPIs and renal disease could pose a substantial disease and financial burden to the health care system and public health.'”

Click the image to read more.

Two Research-Based Medication Findings

 

A-Fib and Aspirin

Sarah Avery of Duke University reports that:

“The drugs apixaban and clopidogrel — without aspirin — comprise the safest treatment regimen for certain patients with atrial fibrillation (A-fib), according to new research. The finding — which applies specifically to patients with A-fib who have had a heart attack and/or are undergoing percutaneous coronary intervention—should reassure clinicians and patients that dropping aspirin results in no significant increase in ischemic events such as heart attacks, strokes, and blood clots.”

“The researchers presented data from the large study, known as AUGUSTUS, at the American College of Cardiology annual meeting. ‘We have a lot of studies on antithrombotic drugs in patients with coronary artery disease and similarly in patients with A-fib, but few studies in patients with both conditions,’ says cardiologist Renato D. Lopes, principal investigator for the trial and a member of the Duke University Clinical Research Institute. ‘The reality is that doctors and patients have a challenge in treating these patients without causing bleeding. The results of this trial give us an opportunity to better understand how to best treat them.'”

Now, look at a brief video on the study.

 

Fight Medicare Fraud and Protect Your Identity

Great Medicare resources!!

Medicare offers numerous tips through its Web site.  And it offers good advice to help you fight Medicare fraud and protect your identity.

In a recent E-mail, Medicare offered three specific tips:

    1. Protect your identity. “Identity theft happens when someone uses your personal information without your consent to commit fraud or other crimes. Guard your Medicare Number and card, and keep your Social Security Number safe.”
    2. Help fight Medicare fraud. “Use your MyMedicare account to stay on top of your claims. If you find errors or fraud, report it to us. Don’t have a MyMedicare account yet? Sign up for free at MyMedicare.gov today.”
    3. Know your rights. “You have certain rights and protections designed to make sure you get the health care services the law says you can get.”

Click the Medicare logo to learn more about its resources.


 

Online Mayo Clinic Resources

Great resources and information.

According to U.S. News & World Report, the Mayo Clinic is ranked as number one on its Best Hospitals Honor Roll:

“It is nationally ranked in 15 adult and 7 pediatric specialties and rated high performing in 1 adult specialty and 9 procedures and conditions. It is a general medical and surgical facility. What became the Mayo Clinic was founded in 1889 in Rochester, Minnesota. The Mayo Clinic opened hospitals in Jacksonville, Florida, in 1986 and Scottsdale, Arizona, in 1987. The Mayo Clinic Health System was established in 1992 and owns 19 hospitals in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa. The Mayo Clinic School of Medicine is the teaching arm of the Mayo Clinic. The hospital’s two Rochester campuses include the Mayo Eugenio Litta Children’s Hospital. The Mayo Clinic has a large integrated transplantation program.”

All of this means that the online Mayo Clinic resources are quite valuable. Check them out.
 

Mayo Clinic Main Web Site

At its main Web site, the Mayo Clinic provides a lot of information. Click the image to visit the home page.

Online Mayo Clinic Resources

Mayo Clinic YouTube Channel

The Mayo Clinic has its own YouTube channel with numerous videos. Here is one example.

Mayo Clinic News Network

At this Web site, the Mayo Clinic:

Here is an example.

Mayo Clinic Facebook and Instagram Pages

The Mayo Clinic participates with a variety of social media, including Facebook and Instagram. Click the images to visit those pages.

Facebook

INSTAGRAM

Online Mayo Clinic Resources

 

We’re Not There Yet on Doctor-Patient Relationships

We can still do better. 🙂

Earlier this month, I gave a presentation to about 65 residents and other doctors on “Roles in Patient-Doctor Relationships: Seeing Both Sides.”

This is the sixth and final post from that talk:

Despite the progress made, as noted in the 5 posts above, there is still a ways to go in doctor-patient relationships.

Check out the charts below, which are based on four possible relationships. The optimal relationship is obviously mutuality. But the other three possibilities still exist. That needs to change. We need to have relationships be win-win!!!
 
We’re Not There Yet on Doctor-Patient Relationships
 
We’re Not There Yet on Doctor-Patient Relationships
 
We’re Not There Yet on Doctor-Patient Relationships
 
We’re Not There Yet on Doctor-Patient Relationships
 
We’re Not There Yet on Doctor-Patient Relationships
 

Patient Actions Improving Doctor Relationships

How patients can enhance doctor relationships

Earlier this month, I gave a presentation to about 65 residents and other doctors on “Roles in Patient-Doctor Relationships: Seeing Both Sides.”

This is the fifth post:

In the doctor-patient relationship, what can patients do to enhance communications? After all, it is not all on the doctor to make the relationship work.

Check out the chart below, and these highlights from the chart:

Patients need to see doctors regularly. And not wait until it is too late. Early diagnosis is a big plus for continued good health.

Patients must always be truthful. Also, they always should come prepared (such as having a list of the prescriptions taken).

Patients should not ask for harmful medications.

Patients need to thoroughly understand treatment options and make informed decisions.

Patient Actions Improving Doctor Relationships