Stories We're Following This Week

News + Insights from Around the Web + The Patient's Playbook Bottom Line. 


Transparency is the Future of Health Care... But are Doctors Ready?

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"When I mentioned the test to Mrs. Sutton at our next visit, I assumed she'd be as happy with the results as I had been. Instead, her reaction shocked me."

—One doctor's experience with a patient caused him to rethink
the touchy subject of health care costs. (Public Radio Tulsa)

Bottom Line: As the author notes, we are moving ever closer to a day when physicians will have to be prepared for questions like, "How much is this procedure going to cost, doctor? And, given my specific health circumstances, is it worth it?" But transparency doesn't begin and end with prices. Patients have a right to know how many times a physician has performed a procedure they are about to undergo, and what his or her success rates and complications have been. Until these sorts of measurements are widely available, the best thing to do? Just ask your doctor.


A Cancer "Moonshot" — What Will It Mean?

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Thinkstock

"President Barack Obama’s announcement of a 'moonshot' to cure cancer...  was, in fact, the third time in less than three years that he has launched a high-profile effort to solve a complex biomedical problem."

—The administration's other biomedical projects are a BRAIN Initiative 
and a Precision Medicine Initiative. (STAT)

Bottom Line: A single cure for cancer suggests that all cancers are the same, but there are actually more than 100 different kinds of cancer with one thing in common: uncontrolled cell growth. The cancer moonshot project has an uncertain future as Obama's term comes to a close, but as the American Cancer Society's Otis Brawley said in The New York Times, the more we learn about cancer, the more we can prevent it, which is ultimately "less costly than treatment in terms of both suffering and money."


The Top 5 Prostate Cancer Research Findings of 2015

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Thinkstock

"The Dream Team’s results mean that if a doctor were to biopsy a tumor, there would be nearly a 90% chance that there would be something treatable in its DNA."

—Genomic mapping of prostate cancer, new findings on why African-American men are more likely to develop the disease, and a landmark clinical trial are among the top stories. (PCF)

Bottom Line: Prostate cancer is the most common non-skin cancer in America, affecting 1 in 7 men. But there are variations that are associated with a wide variety of outcomes, according to the Prostate Cancer Foundation. As we move away from the notion of “one-size-fits-all" treatment, toward more precision medicine, patients will have more effective therapy options. But to reap the benefits, you must become a savvy medical consumer: seek out expert opinions, read the latest findings on your problem, and ask the right questions.


Med Student Develops Glove That May Ease Tremors In Parkinson's  Patients

A GyroGlove Prototype (GyroGear)

A GyroGlove Prototype (GyroGear)

“Being able to control or manage the tremor associated with Parkinson’s can make a range of daily tasks we all take for granted achievable—from writing a letter [and] putting a key in the door to dressing and feeding yourself.” 

—The GyroGlove, which uses gyroscopes to reduce trembling, came to London medical student Faii Ong while he was treating a 103-year-old Parkinson’s patient who couldn't eat her soup. (Medical Daily)

Bottom Line: Wearable technology isn't just for diet and exercise enthusiasts. Though still in prototype stage, the GyroGlove has the potential to help millions of individuals who suffer from Parkinsons. But, as one advocate tells Medical Daily, "Every person’s Parkinson’s is different... One person may have persistent tremor, another sporadic events of tremor, so understanding the needs of each person and each potential customer is key in a project of this kind." 


New Study 'A Powerful Argument for the Importance of Advance Care Planning'

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Thinkstock

"They were more likely to see care as 'excellent' when the patient had received hospice care for more than three days, when their family member was not admitted to an intensive care unit within the last 30 days of life, and when the patient died at home..."

—Families of terminally ill cancer patients provide powerful insights about end-of-life care (CBS)

Bottom Line: The decision of how, when, or if to treat is always up to you, the patient. But it's important to give your loved ones clarity about your decisions, and to complete an advanced-care directive. As the lead author of the study told CBS News, "These conversations need to happen early, not in 11th hour, and these conversations change over time.... It's a process of repeated conversations about where things are." Read Leslie's tips on how to prepare an advanced care directive for more information.


Got a great story we should be following? Let us know in the comments below.