Screening cuts lung cancer deaths
CURRENT or former heavy smokers screened with low-dose computed tomography scans experienced a 20% reduction in lung cancer deaths compared with those screened using chest x-rays, the Herald Sun reports. The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, compared mortality rates among almost 54 000 smokers aged between 55 and 74 years. Half received three annual screenings using low-dose CT scans and half received chest x-rays over a 10-year study period. Constantine Gatsonis, a leading statistician in the trial, said: “For the first time, we have a study that says, ‘Yes, you can actually reduce lung cancer mortality in heavy smokers via screening.’ This is tremendous.”

Breast screen benefits confirmed
THE world’s longest-running breast screening trial shows that the benefits of breast screening are even greater than previously thought, the ABC AM program reports. The Swedish study began in 1977 and included 130 000 women. Half received regular mammograms over a 7-year period and half received usual care. A recent follow-up study, published in Radiology, found women who had mammograms had a 30% lower rate of dying from breast cancer over a 29-year follow-up period.

Waiting times online
UP-TO-DATE waiting times at all Adelaide hospital emergency departments have been made available online, The Advertiser reports. The online information includes a traffic light system to show the capacity of each hospital’s emergency department. SA Health Minister John Hill said the publicly available performance data was a first for Australia and possibly the world.

SMS to quit
SUPPORTIVE text messages can double the chance of someone successfully quitting smoking, BBC News reports. The study, published in The Lancet, found that 10.7% of smokers who received encouraging texts had quit after 6 months, which was double the proportion among smokers trying to quit on their own. The encouraging texts, such as “you can do it”, were sent five times a day for the first 5 weeks and then three times a week for the next 26 weeks.

New Hendra outbreak
QUEENSLAND Health authorities are monitoring eight people who had contact with a horse which died from Hendra virus, the Courier Mail reports. The virus has a high mortality rate and can be transmitted from horses to humans. A Queensland mayor has said it was time the state government reassessed its policy restricting killing of bats, which have been blamed as the source of the disease.

Posted 4 July 2011

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