This first week of Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, we report on the effect of seeking health information on patients knowing about and using targeted therapies and the use of warm water to allow comfortable colonoscopies without sedation.
A new website for cancer patients is available at the University of Iowa, alfalfa sprouts are behind an outbreak of salmonella saint paul in Nebraska, and Avastin has been approved for coverage for colorectal cancer in Alberta.
Brief Research Reports
- Patients who spend time looking for health information were more likely to know about targeted colorectal cancer treatments Avastin® (bevacizumab) and Erbitux® (cetuximab) and were also treated with them three times more often. This was true for both advanced disease for which the targeted treatments were FDA approved and for earlier stages for which they were not approved. Use of the Internet tripled likelihood that a patient would hear about the targeted treatments, reading books or magazines more than tripled the chances. Seeking information from a doctor who was not treating them doubled chances they would hear about Avastin or Erbitux and increased odds of being treated with them two and a half times. Stacy W. Gray MD in Cancer, online February 23, 2009.
- Using warm water,instead of air, to expand the colon during a colonoscopy reduces the need for sedation during the test and lets doctors finish a complete exam. Gastroenterologists at a Veterans Affairs ambulatory center in California compared unsedated colonoscopy with air to similar exams using warm water. They were able to reach the cecum, a sign of a complete exam, in 90 percent of the warm water studies compared to only 76 percent of the colonoscopies that used air. Nine out of ten men who had a water test said that they would be willing to have another colonoscopy without sedation, compared to only seven of ten who would repeat the exam when air was used. Felix W. Leung MD, in GIE Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, March 2009.
- The University of Iowa Simon Cancer Center has opened a new website with cancer information for patients. The site is dedicated to Dr. Harold Burdette, whose research resulted from the belief that a patient’s environment, behaviors, and family play a major role in health outcomes. Among other topics, the website provides information on managing the side effects of cancer treatment.
- An outbreak of Salmonella saint paul in Nebraska has been traced to alfalfa sprouts produced by Omaha grower CW Sprouts. Nebraska health officials are working with CW sprouts to isolate the source of the infection and are interviewing patients who have been identified with the disease or are suspected of having it. Samples are being sent to the Minnesota Health Department to see if the bacteria’s has similar DNA to other outbreaks. The Centers for Disease Control has more information on salmonellosis.
- Alberta agrees to pay for Avastin (bevacizumab) for colorectal cancer treatment. Avastin will be on the province’s approved coverage list as of April 1, 2009. Avastin has been approved for use in Canada since 2005, but each province makes its own decision about coverage. About half of Canadian provinces do cover the medicine for colorectal cancer. Up until now, some Albertans have been paying for the drug out of pocket at a cost of about $4,000 a month. Read Alberta reverses 2005 decision and approves cancer drug Avastin for coverage in the Canadian Press.