Declines in several key cancer-screening procedures among the elderly can be linked to shifts in screening guidelines issued by major public health organizations, according to recently released findings by Yale researchers. James Yu, associate professor of therapeutic radiology at the Yale School of Medicine, and Sean Maroongroge, a third-year medical student, gleaned data from Medicare billing records from 2000 to 2012, analyzing more than 230 million screenings for prostate, breast, and colorectal cancers. Yu, a member of the Yale COPPER Center (Cancer Outcomes, Public Policy, and Effectiveness Research Center), and Maroongroge, also tracked evidence-based screening guidelines issued by five prominent organizations: the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), the American Cancer Society (ACS), the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the American College of Gastroenterology (ACG), and the American Urological Association (AUA). They found that the rates for mammography, which is the primary means of screening for breast cancer, declined 7.4 percent overall during the period studied; prostate screening rates rose 16 percent during the first seven years studied then declined to 7 percent less than the 2000 rate by 2012. Colorectal cancer screening rates also dropped overall.
A black patient hospitalized for chest pain in Connecticut is 20 percent more likely than a white patient to be readmitted within 30 days after discharge. Similarly, a Hispanic patient hospitalized for heart failure is 30 percent more likely to land back in the hospital within a month. Those disparities in two of the most common reasons for hospitalizations among state residents point to larger problems in access to care, underlying health status and insurance coverage, according to a study published today in Connecticut Medicine, the journal of the Connecticut State Medical Society. The society is hosting a forum today to discuss ways to reduce disparities in readmissions of patients with heart failure, chest pain and three other conditions: joint replacement surgery, digestive disorders and uncomplicated childbirth. “We’re seeing large disparities in readmissions for a number of conditions,” said Robert Aseltine, the study’s lead author and professor of behavioral science and community health at the University of Connecticut Health Center.
What if an aspirin a day could keep cancer away? A growing body of scientific research suggests that aspirin can prevent some cancers of the digestive system, and maybe even breast and prostate, too. In the latest study, published today in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, Yale University researchers found that patients from 30 hospitals across the state were less likely to develop pancreatic cancer if they took a small, daily dose of aspirin. Researchers are stopping short of recommending aspirin as a broad cancer prevention tool, because of its possible side effects, including stomach pain and gastrointestinal bleeding. “Aspirin is not a risk-free substance,” said Dr. Harvey Risch, a professor of Epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health, who led the research.