Lung Cancer

Jun 222012
 
Palliative care exploding in U.S. hospitals (AP)

Hospitals added palliative care services at a feverish pace throughout the 2000s, the Associated Press reported in a piece picked up by news outlets across the U.S. in June. While 658 hospitals reported having palliative care programs in 2000, 1,568 reported they offered palliative care services in 2009 — that’s over 60% of the hospitals [… read more]

May 132012
 
Chantix: no excess cardiovascular risk in new meta-analysis

(image: People’s Pharmacy) Sure to re-light controversy around Pfizer’s varenicline (Chantix): a new study concludes the smoking cessation drug likely carries no increased risk for cardiovascular events.  Judith Prochaska and Joan Hilton (University of California – San Francisco) report the results in the May 4 BMJ. Sonal Singh (Johns Hopkins) et al’s previous meta-analysis, reported in CMAJ [… read more]

Apr 242012
 
How to make $25,000 on each EBUS

(image: flickrCC) Endobronchial ultrasound with transbronchial needle aspiration (EBUS-TBNA), when performed by skilled physicians, reduces the need for mediastinoscopy and unnecessary thoracotomies with their associated morbidity, and is poised to permanently alter the landscape of lung cancer diagnosis and staging. Prior to 2008, Medicare seemed to recognize the potential value of EBUS by paying hospitals [… read more]

Apr 172012
 
Most oncologists dump end-of-life talks on other MDs (Ann Intern Med)

(image: Plioz.com) Ever cared for that patient with metastatic cancer in your ICU, intubated for acute respiratory failure and surrounded by a bewildered and stressed family who cope by emotionally blaming you, the intensivist, because “He just saw his oncologist last week, and he said everything was OK!”? Forcing you to begin painful end-of-life discussions [… read more]

Apr 062012
 

The 5-year results of the Danish Lung Cancer Screening Trial (DLCST) were reported in the April 2012 Thorax, and they show no mortality benefit from annual screening for lung cancer with chest CT. Rather, it appeared that more harmless early stage cancers were identified through screening — “overdiagnosis” of cancers that would never have advanced [… read more]

Apr 052012
 

A large proportion of primary care doctors were easily fooled by numbers that seemed to support cancer screening, but were actually irrelevant. Just as bad, they ignored data supporting screening that would genuinely save lives, in a questionnaire simulation published in the March 6 Annals of Internal Medicine. 412 primary care docs were given surveys testing [… read more]

Mar 142012
 

The National Lung Screening Trial (NSLT) showed a 20% reduction in death from lung cancer, but with a number needed to screen of 320 to prevent one death, a false-positive rate of 96% and each abnormal scan generating costs of ~$45,000, the risk / benefit / cost accounts are far from settled. Few insurers (e.g. [… read more]

Feb 282012
 

For unclear reasons, people receiving chemotherapy for solid tumors are at particularly increased risk for deep venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolism (DVT/PE). Semuloparin is an ultra-low-molecular weight heparin with a long half life of 16-20 hours that (like enoxaparin) is renally excreted. Sanofi, makers of Lovenox, report in the February 16 New England Journal of [… read more]

Feb 192012
 

Traditional bronchoscopy with transbronchial biopsy (TBBx) has only a 34% sensitivity at diagnosing peripheral pulmonary nodules < 2 cm in size. Transthoracic needle aspiration (TTNA)’s superior sensitivity of 90% for diagnosing peripheral lesions makes it the standard of care for peripheral lesions, but TTNA carries a considerable risk for pneumothorax. A huge proportion of patients experience [… read more]

Feb 172012
 
Tobacco warnings, free speech, and "in-activist" judges (NEJM)

Legal eagle Kevin Outterson explains the latest twists in the saga of the FDA’s quest to get large, scary pictures on every cigarette package under its new regulatory muscle of the 2009 Obama-authorized Tobacco Control Act. R.J. Reynolds sued, and federal judge Richard Leon took their side in November 2011, deciding to apply the more [… read more]

Feb 082012
 

One-third of smokers try to quit each year, but few stay quit. Even with varenicline (Chantix), the most effective smoking cessation aid to date, only 10% are abstinent at one year. Anne Joseph, Steven Fu, Dorothy Hatsukami et al wonder if that’s partly because our (fee-for-service-driven) intermittent-visit model of patient care and counseling leaves craving [… read more]

Jan 282012
 

Hayder Saeed and Suleiman Massarweh of the University of Kentucky share with us the story and images of a woman presenting with weight loss and cough, and discovered to have hypertrophic pulmonary osteoarthropathy, velvety palmar skin, clubbing … and an 11 cm adenocarcinoma in the right lung. Saeed H, Massarweh S. Hypertrophic Pulmonary Osteoarthropathy and [… read more]

Jan 012012
 

Medical tradition and lore advised follow-up chest films for asymptomatic people 6 weeks after pneumonia to see if a lung cancer might be lurking there. IDSA guidelines from 2007 don’t address the question, and UK guidelines suggest a follow-up chest X-ray only in those with a smoking history or over age 50. Using databases, Tang [… read more]

Jan 012012
 

The smoking cessation drug varenicline (Chantix) got a black-box warning in 2009 after the FDA received >500 reports of suicidal thoughts and behaviors, and 32 completed suicides in the U.S. (This was out of several million prescriptions filled, though.) After that postmarketing surprise, the FDA sponsored 2 observational studies in Chantix users: one at the [… read more]

Jan 012012
 

The National Lung Screening Trial demonstrated annual screening with chest CT saves one life per 320 screened compared to yearly screening with chest radiography. However, there was no “usual care” group (no screening at all) to compare against. Oken et al report additional results from the PLCO Trial (Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer Screening [… read more]

Dec 262011
 

Results of the National Lung Screening Trial (NLST) are in! Enrollment was 8/2002 to 4/2004. Follow-up was through end of 2009. Patients were age 55-74, with >30 pack-year smoking history, still smoking or quit <15 years. Intervention / Control: Low-dose chest CT vs. chest plain films thrice-yearly. By screening these 53,454 high-risk people, 62 deaths [… read more]

Dec 262011
 

Insurance companies, Medicare, and public health authorities haven’t yet sorted out the complexities of the survival benefit found in the Lung Cancer Screening Trial. The number needed to screen to prevent a death was ~300; ~40% of patients had at least one false positive scan, 95% were false positives overall, and overdiagnosis was very likely [… read more]

Nov 092011
 

Duke’s Momen Wahidi and other luminaries bring you a consensus statement on use of peri-procedure medications during bronchoscopy. I’m assuming you’ve done a few already, so here are some highlights (with slight liberties in paraphrasing): Use topical anesthesia as well as moderate sedation in all patients, unless there are contraindications or you practice at a secret CIA prison. [… read more]