Daily Rounds: Live-or-Die Cancer Tests; Off Your Bum For Longer Life; Painkiller Crackdown; Mass. Hospitals Decry Cuts

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A Life-Death Predictor Adds To Cancer's Strain (The New York Times) — "But Ms. Caton had a new option, something that became possible only in this new genetic age. She could have a genetic test of her tumor that could reveal her prognosis with uncanny precision. The test identifies one of two gene patterns in eye melanomas. Almost everyone in Class 1 — roughly half of patients — is cured when the tumor is removed. As for those in Class 2, 70 to 80 percent will die within five years. Their cancers will re-emerge as growths in the liver. For them, there is no cure and no way to slow the disease.No test has ever been so accurate in predicting cancer outcomes, researchers said. The data from studies of the test are “unbelievably impressive,” said Dr. Michael Birrer, an ovarian cancer specialist at Massachusetts General Hospital. “I would die to have something like that in ovarian cancer.” While for now the ocular melanoma test is in a class by itself, cancer researchers say it is a taste of what may be coming as they continue to investigate the genes of cancer cells."

Sitting Less May Add Two Years To U.S. Life Expectancy (Bloomberg) — "Americans may add as many as two years to the nation’s life expectancy if they can stand up more often and watch fewer hours of television, a study found. While studies have shown that too much time sitting and watching TV are bad for a person’s health, today’s research in the journal BMJ Open is the first to show how reducing sedentary behaviors may increase life expectancy in the U.S., now about 78 years, said Peter Katzmarzyk, the lead author. “It’s about the inactivity in your muscles,” Katzmarzyk, a professor of epidemiology at Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, said yesterday in a telephone interview. “When you’re sitting your legs are completely inactive."

FDA Unveils Painkiller-Safety Plan (The Wall Street Journal) — "The makers of extended-release painkillers must fund educational courses for doctors and provide safety information to patients, the Obama administration said Monday, in a move it hopes will reduce misuse of the drugs and overdose deaths. But the plan to deal with the painkillers—among the most widely abused and lethal prescription opioids—doesn't require that doctors or other prescribers take the classes. It mandates only that the more than 20 companies that produce extended-release painkillers provide grants to make such courses available free or at a nominal cost."

In Letter, Hospital Group Calls Medicaid Cuts 'Unsound Policy" (The Boston Globe) — "The Massachusetts Hospital Association sent a letter to Governor Patrick last week asking him to stop proposed administrative changes the group says would result in cuts of about $40 million to Medicaid payments for hospitals. The changes, effective Oct. 1, “represent the continued practice of shifting of government costs onto providers,” President Lynn Nicholas wrote to Patrick in a letter dated July 3. “This cost shifting practice is unsound public policy and stands as a direct barrier to the reform effort in Massachusetts...” Nicholas’s writes that the state underpays hospitals by about 29 percent, on average, for care provided to Medicaid patients. That is up from about 17 percent in 2006, said Tim Gens, the association’s executive vice president, in an interview.

This program aired on July 10, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.