Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Morning Rounds by Megan Thielking

Welcome to Wednesday, folks, and welcome to Morning Rounds. Here's what you need to know about health and medicine today. 

New cancer cases are expected to rise by 2030

Cancer deaths have fallen dramatically in recent decades — but in the coming years, the number of new cancer cases each year is slated to rise, according to the annual progress report from the American Association for Cancer Research. Here’s a look at the highlights:

  • Cancer deaths in the U.S. have fallen dramatically since 1991. The cancer death rate among children tumbled 35 percent between 1991 and 2014. The rate for adults fell 25 percent.

  • Cigarette consumption is tumbling. Cigarette use among adults fell nearly 39 percent between 2000 and 2015, a drop that has been linked to lower rates of lung cancer. 

  • New cancer therapies are cropping up quickly. The FDA approved nine new cancer treatments between August 1, 2016 and July 31, 2017. The agency also approved eight drugs already on the market to treat additional types of cancer.

  • Cancer is expected to become more common. The number of new cancer cases is expected to jump from 1.7 million in 2017 to 2.3 million in 2030. Experts say that’s due in large part to the aging population.

  • Cancer care takes a huge financial toll. In 2014, the direct medical costs of cancer care topped $87 billion in the U.S. alone.

Here's why the president's antibiotic resistance council is convening today


the O157:H7 strain of E. coli bacteria. (janice carr / cdc via ap)

Superbugs are at the center of the conversation today as the president’s advisory committee on antibiotic resistance convenes. The council was set up to advise HHS secretary Tom Price on how best to streamline antibiotic use, monitor and stop the spread of drug-resistant infections, and spur research. Today’s meeting centers around stewardship when it comes to antibiotic prescribing and use. And while stewardship also involves making sure patients take antibiotics for the right length of time, the long-held standard that patients need to finish a course of antibiotics has been questioned recently. You can watch live here starting at 9 a.m. ET.

New cervical cancer screening guidelines give some women more options

Some women may now have more of a choice in how they’re screened for cervical cancer. New draft guidelines — released this week by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force — offer women between 30 and 65 two options. The advisory group says either a standard Pap smear or a newer blood test that detects HPV, the virus that causes the majority of cervical cancer cases, is a reasonable screening option. HPV tests have been used for years to confirm positive Pap smear results, but this is the first time the task force has proposed them as a stand-alone screening tool. HPV tests, however, are not recommended for women in their 20s.

Sponsor content by HUBWEEK

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Inside STAT: Hospitals get creative to draw in nurses

Amid a nationwide shortage, hospitals are getting creative to bring more nurses on staff. Signing bonuses have gotten bigger. One hospital in West Virginia provides free accommodations for nurses from out of town, and another health system in Texas offers free nursing degrees to train existing staff or volunteers. A Kentucky hospital offered something to make the commute a little easier: the chance to win a 2017 Ford Mustang convertible. STAT’s Max Blau has more on the incentives being used to tackle the nursing shortage — read here.

A drone flew dozens of blood samples 161 miles — and kept them viable

Johns Hopkins researchers say they’ve set a new record by flying a medical drone more than 160 miles across the Arizona desert with human blood samples safely in tow. In a new report, the pathologists say they were able to maintain the right temperature to keep the 84 samples viable for laboratory analysis once the drone arrived. The researchers ran common lab tests on those samples and comparison samples that weren’t flown by drone, and all of them showed similar results. Scientists say that adds to the evidence that in the future, medical drones could be a safe, efficient way to ferry samples between rural regions and far-off labs.  

At least 12 kids contract infection after heart surgeries

At least a dozen children have contracted a rare bacterial infection after undergoing cardiac surgery at Children’s Hospital in New Orleans this summer, the hospital told the New Orleans Advocate this week. The surgical-site infections have been blamed on bacteria on operating room equipment used during heart surgery. The bacteria — identified to be Mycobacterium abscessus — has posed problems with medical devices before. the hospital says 55 children had heart surgery between late May and July, and so far, 12 have been identified as having been infected. The hospital is now paying for children's treatment and related costs to their families. 

We want to hear your health and medicine questions

We’re convening a group of leading figures in health and medicine — hospital, medical education, and research leaders — in the Boston area next week to talk about key issues in health care, and we’d love to hear what you’d like to ask the group.  We’ll ask some of your questions and feature excerpts from the conversation in the newsletter later this month to celebrate the second year of Morning Rounds.. Send me your questions by replying to this email or sending a note to

What to read around the web today

  • Texas calls in U.S. Air Force to counter post-storm surge in mosquitoes. Reuters
  • It's time to end the war on women's health. Scientific American
  • Florida hospitals evacuated for Hurricane Irma, now many reopening. Miami Herald

More reads from STAT

The latest from STAT Plus

Thanks so much for reading! Back tomorrow,


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