Daily Rounds: Ovarian Cancer Screening Trashed; Predicting Heart Attacks; Religion And Assisted Suicide; Romney's Murky Health Reforming

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Ovarian Cancer Screenings Are Not Effective, Panel Says (The New York Times) — "Tests commonly recommended to screen healthy women for ovarian cancer do more harm than good and should not be performed, a panel of medical experts said on Monday. The screenings — blood tests for a substance linked to cancer, and ultrasound scans to examine the ovaries — do not lower the death rate from the disease, and yield many false-positive results that lead to unnecessary operations with high complication rates, the panel said. “There is no existing method of screening for ovarian cancer that is effective in reducing deaths,” Dr. Virginia Moyer, the chairwoman of the expert panel, said in a statement from the group, the United States Preventive Services Task Force. “In fact, a high percentage of women who undergo screening experience false-positive test results and consequently may be subjected to unnecessary harms, such as major surgery.”

If Only Heart Attacks Were Predictable (The Wall Street Journal) — "Dr. Muller and a company he founded, Infraredx Inc., have developed a tool that analyzes deposits of cholesterol called plaques that accumulate in the coronary arteries and are the telltale signature of the disease that causes heart attacks. Using a combination of ultrasound and infrared spectroscopy, the device takes as many as 30,000 readings of an artery's chemistry in two minutes. The result, Dr. Muller says, indicates whether the plaque is "hot" and poised to burst and potentially cause a heart attack or whether it amounts to a stable plaque that is unlikely to cause trouble. If the test proves effective in detecting and stopping heart attacks before they occur, it could be an important advance in the battle against the world's leading killer. While doctors know plenty about what makes people susceptible to heart disease, they aren't very good at identifying in advance the one million Americans who suffer a heart attack each year. But bringing Dr. Muller's idea to fruition has been an arduous journey."

Massachusetts Religious Communities Divided Over Doctor-Assisted Suicide Measures (The Boston Globe) — '"A few denominations, like the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations, with about 22,000 members in Massachusetts, officially support the concept. The Unitarians and other mainline Protestant denominations typically do not take positions on specific state proposals. And, in an age when many ecclesiastical hierarchies are weakening, in a country where many people are used to filtering religious beliefs through personal and secular lenses, individual clergy and congregants do not necessarily follow the lead of church officials.The national Episcopal Church, for example, officially opposes physician-assisted suicide. But the Rev. Daphne B. Noyes, a deacon at the Church of the Advent in Boston and a hospital chaplain, said her work with dying people and their families has led her to believe the option should be available under rigorously limited circumstances that ensure that participation by all parties is voluntary and deliberate. “Looking at the ethical principles, this is one of autonomy and justice,” she said.'

It WIll Be Tricky For Romney To Keep Best Of Health Law And Repeal It (The New York Times) — "Mr. Romney did not explain a significant feature of his proposal: he would explicitly guarantee insurance for people with existing conditions only if they have maintained coverage without a significant gap. That could exclude millions of Americans with medical problems like cancer, heart disease and asthma."

This program aired on September 11, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.