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Preventive Services Task Force

February 22, 2012 | By Eryn Brown, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
Colon cancer is the third deadliest cancer in the U.S.; it is expected to kill more than 51,000 Americans this year, according to the American Cancer Society. Physicians have long assumed that removing precancerous polyps during patient colonoscopies reduces the numbers of such deaths. Now researchers have proved it. In a large, multi-decade study of more than 2,600 patients who had precancerous polyps removed during colonoscopies between 1980 and 1990, scientists at the Memorial Sloan-Ketting Cancer Center in New York and colleagues at other institutions found that removing the polyps reduced deaths from colon cancer in the group by 53%.  An article detailing their results was published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.
November 20, 2012 | By Karin Klein
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is calling for doctors to test most people ages 15 to 64, whether they fall in high-risk groups or not, for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. I see only one thing wrong with this proposal: We should have started doing it years ago. Decades ago. Admittedly, it's in more recent years that medicine has learned that treatment for HIV is more successful when it starts earlier rather than later. But long before we had any effective treatments for HIV infection, it was clear that if people knew they had AIDS, they could and usually would take steps to avoid infecting others, through safer-sex measures and the like.
October 19, 2011 | By Amina Khan, Los Angeles Times / for the Booster Shots blog
An independent federal panel and several other leading medical groups are proposing new guidelines for cervical cancer screening -- in the same month that the federal panel made news by recommending against routine PSA tests to screen for prostate cancer. Among the recommendations: that women over age 21 should undergo Pap smears to test for cervical cancer only once every three years, according to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. This syncs somewhat with a new set of proposed guidelines from the American Cancer Society, the American Society for Clinical Pathology and the American Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology, also released Wednesday.
January 27, 2012 | By Eryn Brown, Los Angeles Times / for the Booster Shots blog
Researchers with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Thursday that percentages of Americans receiving recommended screenings for breast cancer, cervical cancer and colorectal cancer in 2010 did not reach targets -- with racial and ethnic populations lagging noticeably behind. The team's study , which was published in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, was the first to examine disparities in Asian and Hispanic groups, according to a CDC release.  Data was collected from the 2010 National Health Interview Survey . Overall, 72.4% of women ages 50 to 74 followed the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendation to get a mammogram every two years . Healthy People 2020 , a government effort to improve health that sets goals for following screening guidelines, set a target of 81%. Eighty-three percent of women followed cervical cancer screening recommendations ; the Healthy People 2020 target was 93%.  For colorectal cancer screening , 58.6% of Americans complied with recommendations.
November 18, 2009 | Noam N. Levey
A core tenet of the healthcare overhaul President Obama is pushing through Congress is that medical care can be improved -- and costs contained -- if the country relies more on experts to determine which procedures and treatments work best. But Monday's mammography report by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force delivered a swift and stark reminder that few ideas are more explosive in healthcare. The expert panel -- which recommended that women in their 40s should no longer get annual mammograms to screen for breast cancer -- sparked an outcry from those who say that the federal government is more interested in saving money than in improving women's health, even though the panel did not consider costs in its analysis.
February 27, 2013 | By Karen Kaplan
More than half of American women over the age of 60 take vitamin D and calcium supplements, but the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force said this week that they're probably wasting their money. In a new recommendations from the federal government's expert panel on preventive medicine, the task force says that most postmenopausal women should not take vitamin D and calcium to reduce their risk of bone fractures. The dosages assessed were 400 international units (IUs) of vitamin D3 and 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day. The conclusions are based on an analysis of six randomized trials designed to study the health effects of vitamin D and calcium supplements.
April 23, 2011 | Harris Meyer, Kaiser Health News
This story has been corrected. See note at bottom for details. For years, doctors have urged patients over the age of 50 to get colonoscopies to check for colorectal cancer , which kills 50,000 Americans a year. Their efforts were boosted last year by the federal health care law, which requires that key preventive services , including colonoscopies, be provided to patients at no out-of-pocket cost. But there's a wrinkle in the highly touted benefit. If doctors find and remove a polyp, which can be cancerous, some private insurers and Medicare hit the patient with a surprise: charges that could run several hundred dollars.
October 7, 2011 | By Eryn Brown, Los Angeles Times / for the Booster Shots blog
When news came Thursday evening that the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force would recommend that middle-age men forego routine PSA tests to screen for prostate cancer, at least one longtime researcher rejoiced. “I couldn't agree more with the decision,” said Richard J. Ablin, a research professor of immunobiology and pathology at the University of Arizona College of Medicine who worked on the discovery of PSA, a protein made by the prostate. "It's a test that really can't do what it's purported to do. " For around 40 years, Ablin has argued that most men shouldn't go through with PSA screening because it doesn't actually detect prostate cancer -- rather, it measures levels of PSA in the blood that may or may not indicate the presence of cancer (which must be confirmed through further tests.)
November 22, 2012 | By Mary MacVean
This might be tough for parents who want to swoop in and fix their children's every problem, but a study found that half of the teenagers who screened positive for depression got better in six weeks without treatment. Two aspects of the teenagers' conditions seemed to predict whether the depression would ease without treatment: the severity of the symptoms and whether the symptoms persisted for six weeks, the researchers, led by Dr. Laura Richardson of Seattle Children's Research Institute, said in an article published this week in the journal Pediatrics.
March 10, 1990 | JAN ZIEGLER, Jan Ziegler writes for American Health and Psychology Today
A routine physical checkup in the 1990s could become something quite different from what you're accustomed to. Doctors will probably be doing a lot less testing and a lot more talking about how to stay well. Most periodic physical exams should be devoted to counseling and motivating patients to adopt more healthful life styles, advises a recent report by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, a group of 20 independent physicians and health experts working under the U.S.
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