Spending for screenings questioned
Older women may not be benefiting from Medicare spending on breast cancer screening, according to a study by Yale School of Medicine researchers, recently published on an online medical journal.
Researchers examined Medicare expenditures for breast cancer screening, including mammography, and related workup, as well as treatment. Overall national costs were compiled, as well as differences in costs over geographic regions. Online First by JAMA Internal Medicine reported the study led by Cary Gross, Yale associate professor of internal medicine and director of the Cancer Outcomes, Public Policy, and Effectiveness Research Center at Yale.
The COPPER team calculated screening and treatment spending for 137,274 female Medicare beneficiaries who had not had breast cancer before 2006. The women's cases were followed for two years to observe screening, breast cancer incidence, and associated cost.
The team found regions varied widely in Medicare spending for breast cancer screening: from $40 to $110 per woman. Higher-cost areas were found to have more use of newer, more expensive screening technologies. However, Dr. Gross commented, no relation was found between how much was spent for screening and how many cases of advanced breast cancer were found.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recently concluded that there is not enough evidence on the effectiveness of breast cancer screening for women age 75 years and older. The COPPER team found that more than $400 million is being spent annually on screening Medicare beneficiaries in this age group. The study was supported by the National Cancer Institute and the Yale Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Enzyme found that may aid fight against TB
Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health have identified an enzyme that will trigger the rapid breakdown of several mycobacteria species, including the bacteria known to cause tuberculosis.
The results of the study are published in the January edition of the Journal of Biological Chemistry.
Every year, tuberculosis, a bacterial infection that usually affects the lungs, kills more than 2 million people worldwide and shows up in 9 million new cases.
The enzyme may help with early diagnosis of the infection caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which usually attacks the lungs and spreads through the air. Known as an esterase, the enzyme breaks down the bacterium more quickly, and detects it at a lower density compared to a more common method.
A faster, more accurate test for TB could help control the infection, according to Anil Ojha, Ph.D., assistant professor in the department of infectious diseases and microbiology at Pitt, and senior author of the study, funded by the National Institutes of Health.