Sharon Theimer (@stheimer)
Activity by Sharon Theimer
Rochester, Minn. — Which breast cancer patients need to have underarm lymph nodes removed? Mayo Clinic-led research is narrowing it down. A new study finds that not all women with lymph node-positive breast cancer treated with chemotherapy before surgery need to have all of their underarm nodes taken out. Ultrasound is a useful tool for judging before breast cancer surgery whether chemotherapy eliminated cancer from the underarm lymph nodes, the researchers found. The findings are published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
In the past, when breast cancer was discovered to have spread to the lymph nodes under the arm, surgeons routinely removed all of them. Taking out all of those lymph nodes may cause arm swelling called lymphedema and limit the arm’s range of motion.
Now, many breast cancer patients receive chemotherapy before surgery. Thanks to improvements in chemotherapy drugs and use of targeted therapy, surgeons are seeing more women whose cancer is eradicated from the lymph nodes by the time they reach the operating room, says lead author Judy C. Boughey, M.D. a breast surgeon at Mayo Clinic in Rochester.
MEDIA CONTACT: Sharon Theimer, Mayo Clinic Public Affairs, 507-284-5005, Email: email@example.com
Journalists: Sound bites with Dr. Boughey are available in the downloads.
Rochester, Minn. — If you haven’t already experienced telemedicine, you may soon have the option. Technology is helping people connect with their physicians in new ways and from a distance, and interest is growing in updating state and federal policies to help make telemedicine available to more patients.
Mayo Clinic this week responded to a request from the House Energy and Commerce Committee for recommendations on how lawmakers can help this new health care option progress. Steve Ommen, M.D., medical director of Mayo Clinic Connected Care, explains telemedicine and outlines state and national moves that would help more patients take advantage of it:
What is telemedicine? Telemedicine most commonly refers to communication with or among a patient’s health care team via video connection, secure text messaging or another platform rather than in person. It can be used to schedule appointments, answer questions, handle routine checkups, allow physicians in different locations to consult about a patient’s case, collect vital signs or even to help examine and diagnose patients. To protect patient privacy, secure communication methods are used.
Mayo Clinic views development of telemedicine as an important next step to improve health care access, quality and efficiency across the country.
Journalists: Sound bites with Dr. Ommen are available in the downloads.
Rochester, Minn. – “Precision medicine” is becoming a national catchphrase after President Obama highlighted it in his State of the Union address.
But what exactly is it? Richard Weinshilboum, M.D., acting director of the Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine, describes this new, rapidly advancing frontier in medicine and outlines 10 changes that would speed development and help more patients benefit from a personalized approach to health care:
What is precision medicine? In precision medicine, also called individualized medicine or personalized medicine, physicians use knowledge about a person’s personal genetic makeup to help determine the best plan for disease prevention, diagnosis and treatment. The mapping of the human genome in 2003 by U.S. scientists jump-started medical genomics; the Human Genome Project was an immense international collaboration that took 13 years and cost $3.8 billion. The National Institutes of Health’s National Human Genome Research Institute, which coordinated the project, estimates economic growth from that project at $798 billion.
"We are now poised to apply genomic technologies developed with the findings of the Human Genome Project into everyday patient care,” Dr. Weinshilboum says.
“However, if the U.S. is to remain the world leader in health care innovation and delivery, we need another national genomics effort that will accelerate scientific discovery and clinical implementation while continuing to encourage the rapid technological innovations and entrepreneurialism that have gotten us to this point."
MEDIA CONTACT: To schedule an interview with Dr. Weinshilboum or other Mayo Clinic individualized medicine experts, please contact Sam Smith or Robert Nellis in Mayo Clinic Public Affairs at 507-284-5005 or firstname.lastname@example.org. [...]
Sepsis can be a dangerous complication of almost any type of infection, including influenza, pneumonia and food poisoning; urinary tract infections; bloodstream infections from wounds; and abdominal infections. Steve Peters, M.D., a pulmonary and critical care physician at Mayo Clinic and senior author of a recent sepsis overview in the medical journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings, explains sepsis symptoms and risk factors, the difference between severe sepsis and septic shock, and how sepsis is typically treated:
What is sepsis?Sepsis occurs when chemicals released into the bloodstream to fight an infection trigger inflammatory responses throughout the body. This inflammation can trigger a cascade of changes that can damage multiple organ systems, causing them to fail.
“Many infections can cause it,” Dr. Peters says. “It is most common with bacterial infections, but you can get sepsis from other types of bugs also.”
What are symptoms to watch for? A high fever; inability to keep fluids down; rapid heartbeat; rapid, shallow breathing; lethargy and confusion are among the signs. If sepsis is suspected, seek emergency care, Dr. Peters advises. Rapid intervention is critical.
Journalists: Soundbites with Dr. Peters are available in the downloads.
For interviews with Dr. Peters, please contact Sharon Theimer
Mayo Clinic Public Affairs at 507-284-5005 or email@example.com. [...]
Boston — A molecule in the blood shows promise as a marker to predict whether individual rheumatoid arthritis patients are likely to benefit from biologic medications or other drugs should be tried, a Mayo Clinic-led study shows. The protein, analyzed in blood tests, may help avoid trial and error with medications, sparing patients treatment delays and unnecessary side effects and expense. The research is among several Mayo Clinic studies presented at the American College of Rheumatology annual meeting in Boston.
Researchers tested blood samples taken before rheumatoid arthritis treatment was given. The patients then were treated with anti-inflammatory biologic drugs, tumor necrosis factor-alpha inhibitors, a new class of medications used for rheumatoid arthritis. They found that a protein made by the immune system, type 1 interferon, appears to serve as a valid marker to tell whether individual rheumatoid arthritis patients will respond to biologics, or other medications should be tried.
Journalists: Sound bites of Dr. Niewold are available in the downloads below.
ROCHESTER, Minn. — For many adults, the word scoliosis conjures up childhood memories of lining up in gym class for an examination by the school nurse. But scoliosis isn't just a pediatric condition. Curvature of the spine can develop in adults too, and the osteoporosis that can accompany menopause is a risk factor. Mayo Clinic orthopedic surgeon Paul Huddleston, M.D., explains how scoliosis develops, prevention and treatment options and a trend he is seeing in Baby Boomer women.
What is scoliosis? Scoliosis is a misshaping of the spine as seen from the front — where the spine seems shifted right or left — or from a side view, where the spine is bent too far forward or backward, or a combination of the two. It doesn’t always cause pain: Schools started screening in elementary school or junior high in part because many children and their parents didn’t know the children had it, Dr. Huddleston says.
Journalists: Sound bites with Dr. Huddleston are available in the downloads.
More than 8 of 10 say they would make same choice again, Mayo Clinic study finds
ROCHESTER, Minn. — More women with cancer in one breast are opting to have both breasts removed to reduce their risk of future cancer. New research shows that in the long term, most have no regrets. Mayo Clinic surveyed hundreds of women with breast cancer who had double mastectomies between 1960 and 1993 and found that nearly all would make the same choice again. The findings are published in the journal Annals of Surgical Oncology.
The study made a surprising finding: While most women were satisfied with their decision whether they followed it with breast reconstruction or not, patients who decided against reconstructive surgery were likelier to say they would choose to have both breasts removed again. In the reconstructive surgery group, women who needed additional operations due to complications, breast implant-related issues or other reasons were likelier to regret their prophylactic mastectomy, though overall, most women with breast reconstructions were satisfied with their choices.
MEDIA CONTACT: Sharon Theimer, Mayo Clinic Public Affairs, 507-284-5005, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Meeting non-medical needs ahead of operations can aid recovery, cut health care costs, study suggests
ROCHESTER, Minn. — How well patients recover from cancer surgery may be influenced by more than their medical conditions and the operations themselves. Family conflicts and other non-medical problems may raise their risk of surgical complications, a Mayo Clinic study has found. Addressing such quality-of-life issues before an operation may reduce patients’ stress, speed their recoveries and save health care dollars, the research suggests. The study specifically looked at colon cancer patients, and found that patients with a poor quality of life were nearly three times likelier to face serious postoperative complications.
The findings are published in the Journal of Gastrointestinal Surgery.
“We know that quality of life is a very complex thing, but we can now measure it and work with it almost like blood pressure,” says lead author Juliane Bingener, M.D., a gastroenterologic surgeon at Mayo Clinic in Rochester. “We can say, ‘This is good, this is in the normal range, but this one here, that is not good, and maybe we should do something.’”
Quality of life as measured in the study is about more than happiness and how well people feel physically, Dr. Bingener says. It also includes the financial, spiritual, emotional, mental and social aspects of their lives and whether their needs are being met. [...]