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Magnets for migraines

It’s like something you’d see on Star Trek — placing an electromagnetic device on your head to get rid of migraine headaches. And while not yet approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, doctors at Mayo Clinic are studying such a device and their research shows that it works for some patients.

The device generates an electromagnetic field that penetrates the scalp and skull and short-circuits abnormal electrical activity. David Dodick, M.D., helped design a study to test the device. “The group who used the device did significantly better than the group using the sham device,” Dr. Dodick says. “They felt improvement anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours later.” For more information, visit www.mayoclinic.org.

New tests for colon cancer endorsed

The American Cancer Society, the U.S. Multi Society Task Force on Colorectal Cancer and the American College of Radiology have endorsed the use of two colon cancer diagnostic procedures developed and tested at Mayo Clinic.

CT colonography, also known as virtual colonoscopy, underwent rigorous studies at Mayo Clinic for more than 10 years. C. Daniel Johnson, M.D., led the research. CT colonography uses a computerized tomography (CT) machine to take images of the colon from outside the body.

Stool DNA testing detects unsuspected colorectal cancer and polyps at significantly higher rates than do common fecal occult blood tests. Preliminary results from studies led by David Ahlquist, M.D., suggest that stool DNA testing can also effectively detect common cancers above the colon.

Stronger link between diabetes and pancreatic cancer

A recent Mayo Clinic study found that 40 percent of pancreatic cancer patients are diagnosed with diabetes prior to their pancreatic cancer diagnosis. The onset of diabetes appears to be many months (in some cases up to two years) before cancer diagnosis — providing researchers with an important clue for earlier detection of pancreatic cancer.

Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the United States. Fewer than five percent of pancreatic cancer patients survive five years after diagnosis.