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Diagnostic Tests

October 29, 2007 | From Times Wire Reports
A simple device for detecting carbon monoxide in the blood may help doctors get an honest answer out of patients who smoke, U.S. researchers have found. The device, called a pulse cooximeter, is typically used to test for carbon monoxide levels in firefighters, but it can also detect carbon monoxide levels in people who smoke. "There is no good way to screen people for smoking," said Dr. Sridhar Reddy, a lung specialist in St. Clair, Mich.
October 8, 2007 | Eric Jaffe, Special to The Times
Effective treatments for Alzheimer's disease appear several years away at best. But, in what could be considered a painful irony, scientists have become increasingly adept at spotting the illness in its earliest stages. Magnetic resonance imaging, PET scans, spinal fluid analyses and other techniques have enabled physicians to reliably detect the disease -- often years before symptoms appear.
October 1, 2007 | Karen Ravn
Some doctors still recommend that women examine their breasts for lumps or other changes. Dr. Sandhya Pruthi calls the self-exam an important part of a triad that also includes clinical exams and mammograms. A professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., Pruthi says none of these tools is perfect, but they all complement one another. "Sometimes a woman may feel a lump that the mammogram doesn't even find," she says. "Is it helpful then? Yeah, big time."
September 17, 2007 | From Times wire reports
Guidelines released Monday by the American College of Chest Physicians indicate that at present lung cancer screening with CT scanning and other methods is generally not warranted outside of studies. The researchers conclude that screening with CT imaging or certain sputum tests does not reduce lung cancer deaths, even in high-risk groups such as heavy smokers.
August 27, 2007 | From Times Wire Reports
A reported boom in U.S. whooping cough cases is being questioned after health officials discovered a regularly used lab test misdiagnosed cases in suspected outbreaks in New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Tennessee. The errors were reported Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Pertussis, or whooping cough, is a potentially fatal bacterial respiratory infection. Government health officials say cases have tripled in the United States since 2001.
July 30, 2007 | James Channing Shaw, Special to The Times
Two years ago, after returning from an Alaskan cruise, Jean, a widow in her mid-70s, mentioned a disturbing new health problem: During the trip, she had started having severe episodes of neck pain. Although I was not her doctor, I put on my physician hat and asked a few questions. It was difficult for Jean to pinpoint the location of the pain; it seemed to begin at the back of her tongue and spread across her neck.
July 16, 2007 | From Times wire reports
The number of newborns living in states that require genetic screening for more than 20 debilitating or fatal health conditions more than doubled in just two years, to about 90%. Thirty-eight percent of infants in 2004 were born in states that screened for at least 21 conditions, including cystic fibrosis and sickle cell anemia, according to a report released last Monday by the March of Dimes. As of June 1, the percentage rose to 87.5%, or about 3.6 million babies, the report said.
July 2, 2007 | Valerie Ulene, Special to The Times
Advertisements can be very persuasive -- whether they're promoting a snack food, a toy or even a medical test. If you've watched much television lately, you may have seen a commercial touting the benefits of a relatively new screening test for cervical cancer. Its message is unambiguous: "A Pap test isn't enough." The advertisement encourages women to get tested for human papillomavirus (HPV), the virus known to cause cervical cancer.
May 14, 2007 | From Times Wire Services
After rising steadily for decades, the proportion of U.S. women getting mammograms to screen for breast cancer has dropped, federal researchers report in a study published online today. The share of women older than 40 undergoing regular mammograms fell 4 percentage points from 2000 to 2005, the first significant decline since use of the breast X-rays started rapidly expanding in 1987, the study by the National Cancer Institute and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found.
April 9, 2007 | Mary Beckman, Special to The Times
The fight against breast cancer appears to have a new tool: magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. On March 27, the American Cancer Society issued new guidelines that recommend MRIs in conjunction with yearly mammograms for certain women. But who should get these tests, and do the costs -- both financially and emotionally -- outweigh the benefits? Known largely for their use in imaging active areas of a person's brain, MRI scans generally measure tissue density.
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